Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nashville Music Group Writers Nights - Nashville Palace

I thought I've been pretty busy these days, what with a number of writing projects going on and going out almost every night in the week checking out writers nights and other shows in support of many of my singer/songwriter friends. But I got to thinking, maybe I'm not half as busy as James Breedwell.

James hosts Nashville Music Group Writers Nights six nights a week: Mondays and Thursdays at the Nashville Palace from 6-9 p.m., Sunday at Pizza Pelon from 6-9 p.m., Tuesdays at Hooters in Hermitage from 7-10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at Chic-Fil-A in Hermitage from 6-9 p.m.

I went to two recent Nashville Palace writers nights and heard many friends and familiar names on these evenings. And of course, I also met and heard many new artists. Writers play about three or four songs each, with James opening the evening with a short set. When you walk in the door, you're not a stranger...James takes the time to warmly greet everyone who comes in. That's a nice touch. He also puts a lot of time and attention to the details of the evening and makes sure everything runs smoothly. James's focus is on giving writers and musicians networking opportunities and helping to perhaps make some dreams come true.

Some thought this was a joke, but it's absolutely true. Even though I would have liked to have gone to the Legends and Lyrics taping last Monday evening which featured Dwight Yoakam, I chose to come out and support my friends Brandon Maddox, Brian James and Sam Cooper. Hey, I have my priorities.

For more info on these writers nights, contact Pat at nashvillemusicgroup@yahoo.com .

Monday, February 23, 2009

Legends and Lyrics TV taping, 2/20-22/2009

A few people around here sure have me pegged. I received at least two e-mails from people letting me know about the tapings for the Songwriters In the Round public television series "Legends and Lyrics", happening for the past few days in downtown Nashville and open for the public to be part of the audience. "This is so you...you would enjoy this," my e-mailers said. Absolutely. I promptly signed up for three weekend afternoon tapings.

This series brings together three renowned and established writers and one "rising star" act to play some songs they wrote and tell stories on how they were written. The "rising star" act did three songs to open the show, then the other artists came out and performed "in the round", with four or five rounds. It's taped at the Grand Masonic Lodge in downtown Nashville. The auditorium didn't have a bad seat in the house.

The first show I went to was Friday afternoon, which featured Felix Cavaliere (Rascals), Melissa Manchester, Josh Kelley and Damien Horne. I was most pumped to hear Felix, and I tell you, the guy still has his voice. He did "Groovin' ", "Lonely Too Long", "How Can I Be Sure", and "People Got To Be Free". Melissa Manchester wowed the audience with her singing and her powerful piano playing. She did "Midnight Blue" (originally intended for Dionne Warwick, but producers dug Melissa's voice on the demo and the rest was history), "Come In From The Rain" and two newer songs (didn't have my usually present pen and paper out—didn't want to get caught taking notes on camera!). Quite honestly, I wasn't all that familiar with Josh Kelley, but he was very impressive and engaging with the audience. I knew that "rising star" Damien Horne was part of the present "Musik Mafia" but hadn't heard much of his music. Once again, I was impressed and in particular my friend who was sitting next to me was quite blown away. I think we'll both be looking up more of his music.

On to Saturday afternoon...the lineup was newcomer Jessica Rae, who was excellent; in the round were Glen Phillips (known from Toad the Wet Sprocket), Guy Clark and Roger McGuinn. Glen Phillips was accompanied on guitar and vocals by Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) and among other songs he did was the one I was hoping for, "All I Want". Storytelling songwriter Guy Clark engaged the audience and got some of the largest applause I've heard the artists receive. Roger McGuinn did an awesome version of "Eight Miles High" on acoustic guitar.

The last taping I went to was Sunday afternoon's, which had the largest crowd of the three afternoon tapings I attended. Opening as "rising stars" was a very strong duo, Sam and Ruby. In the round were Mac Davis, Peter Yarrow and David Pack (Ambrosia). In my opinion, the absolute best voice of all the artists I heard in the three days belonged hands down to David Pack. He got all of his Ambrosia hits in: "Biggest Part of Me", "You're The Only Woman", "Holding On to Yesterday" and "How Much I Feel". The beauty and range of his voice was stunning. Peter Yarrow, I think, wanted to talk as much as he did sing, but he did (accompanied by his daughter Brittany) get the audience singing with him to "Puff the Magic Dragon" and "Day Is Done". I would like to know Mac Davis' secret for hardly having aged since his TV days. The audience wanted to hear his own personal songs like "Watching Scotty Grow" and "I Believe In Music".

I figured I was going to see at least a few people I knew in the audience at these tapings and indeed I did. It was a great experience for all of us. If you missed out on this group of tapings, there will be more scheduled for spring and the "Legends and Lyrics" series should start airing on PBS in April.

Need I say it? I love this town!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wanda Jackson, Steve Haggard, Those Darlins, 5 Spot, East Nashville, 2/17/09

To be honest, I've never been the most comfortable in bars. I don't drink or smoke and the stereotype situations a gal on her own in one might find don't appeal to me. But my musical friends were successfully persuasive in getting me down to the 5 Spot in East Nashville to check out the queen of rockabilly, Wanda Jackson. It turned out to be one of the most fun evenings I've ever had.

As bars go, I found the 5 Spot to have a pleasant atmosphere. The music they play in between sets sounds a lot like my radio show, so I was digging that. A wide age range of people were well-behaved and just having a fun time loving the music and dancing. I also enjoyed seeing some of the retro fashions that folks were coming in with to get in the spirit of the evening.

Wanda Jackson, as you may have heard, will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. She looked terrific and her vocals still packed a punch. Elvis Presley was a great encouragement to her as she was beginning her career in the 1950's, so she paid tribute to him with a medley of a few of his songs. Some of the biggest crowd favorites were her own hits such as "Riot In Cell Block #9", the country "Right Or Wrong", and the one I know a lot of us were waiting to hear, "Let's Have A Party".

There were two opening acts for Wanda. A young female group, Those Darlins, combined the power pop high-energy and spirit of the Go-Gos with a country twang. My Radio Free Nashville colleagues, Steve Haggard, Kimberly King and their band (which included Walter Egan) played a short but excellent set. Most of the group also served double duty as Wanda's backup band and did a great job.

I'm glad I decided to come after all when my schedule opened up. I had a nice time with some nice people. I love this town.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Red Tree Coffee, Kingston Springs, TN 2/13/09

I walked into Red Tree Coffee this evening and immediately felt nostalgic.

You see, I spent about 15 years supporting local singer/songwriters on the coffeehouse circuit in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. I credit that time in my life for opening the door for the support I'm blessed with doing here today for the Nashville singer/songwriter community. In the Twin Cities I bonded with many artists and coffeehouses and saw them come and go and change with the times. We rejoiced when we watched singers and writers progress from debuting their first CDs in such coffeehouses to making a living with their music and becoming touring artists.

Red Tree is one such sweet coffeehouse in Kingston Springs that holds that intimate, friendly atmosphere I've loved so much. Two sisters from Arkansas, Amy and Katie, serve up tasty coffee and other goodies and are two "cheerleaders" with great enthusiasm for the music they present every Friday night. This evening, the musical feature was one favorite singer of mine and one new to me.

Now, if you are a true fan of someone and you go to their show, the one thing you want to have happen most is to see that artist or group succeed with a great crowd that is totally attentive and enthusiastic. Those of you who have been reading this blog for some time know I've been on record about George Adams and how I think he's one of this town's greatest talents with a heartbreakingly beautiful, hit the tuning fork of the heart, flip your soul upside down and backwards voice. This night pulled together the best elements of the last couple of times I've seen him. His 45 minute set combined his own strong material with some covers. As I told you last October, George adds first class artistry to well-known songs, and in particular he brought it with "What's Going On", showing off that awesome vocal range of his, and Larry Gatlin's "I've Done Enough Dying Today." He had a good sized, mega-receptive crowd. I couldn't have been more thrilled for him.

It was also a pleasure to hear Louise Mosrie, a fine singer/songwriter with a lovely voice, solid material and engaging presence. One favorite of mine was "Don't Come Looking For Me" and the aforementioned Amy and Katie obviously loved "God Lives In Arkansas". Louise will be playing a few shows around town and is working on a new CD, so I'll be keeping an ear out for her, I'm sure.

As for Red Tree, I'll be back...they've got a couple of good friends of mine playing there in the coming weeks.

I'm very thankful for the presence of some friends who I invited to come down to join me for the show and help show support. I also thought about the friends I've been bumping into at all these events on this jam-packed schedule of mine (see the previous blog entry). How fitting it was that, as I was heading home, I turned on the radio and heard Michael W. Smith singing "Friends" on the Grand Ole Opry. I know it had to be God winking. I felt very lucky on this Friday the 13th.

I love my friends in this town and I love this town.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Plugged In Entertainment Writers Night, Blue Bar, 2/11/09

My bemoaning saga of too many great things going on in one night in this town continues...

As I promised readers I would do, I checked out a writer's night that I hadn't yet been to. But first, I stopped in on the Wild Oats Records showcase at the Commodore to hear Steve Haggard and Kimberly King and Joel Alan Lehman. Then conveniently, it was on to the nearby Blue Bar to catch the Wednesday evening Plugged In Entertainment writer's night run by Joy Collins and my friend (and everybody's) Joe Hrasna, hosted this evening by Lacie Madison. I got there a little early so I got to hear the last of a set by a duo whose regular Blue Bar gig ads I'd seen on TV, O'Shea. They have a strong following and are powerful performers.

I picked this evening to come in support of Kim McLean and Devon O'Day. Kim has a fabulous new release called "Rapunzel's Escape" and she, Devin and bass player Chris (assisted by Matthew Burgess, who was awesome in backing everyone on percussion) did five songs from the CD. (Kim and Devon, by the way, will be guests on my radio show Never Too Old on the 22nd.)

There were many other great writers that evening...those I did get to hear were some favorites of mine, Scott Southworth and Stephanie Layne, Rachel Williams (whose autographed picture I got from her at the 2007 CMA Fest hangs on my office wall), and some new to me writers: Terrie Long and Sarah Gayle Taylor (sorry to be ignorant of names, but Sarah had an excellent fellow with her who did one song..I think his name was Mick. If I find out more, I'll edit the info). I could only stay a short time and couldn't make the rest of the evening, so my apologies to all the other writers I missed and hope to catch you elsewhere soon!

What is always so amusing and so wonderful is running into a lot of the same people at these events, even if I've seen them only a night or two before. That was the case at the Blue Bar, too. We laugh about it and we hug, and we enjoy that we're all there for the same reason: supporting these artists.

Next stop: a place I have heard a lot of buzz about, Red Tree Coffeehouse in Kingston Springs. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Got Gigs? Plug 'em!

No doubt about it, I've been a busy gal about town these days. If I wanted to, I could be out every night in the week with all that goes on around Nashville. I get a lot of invites to gigs by various musicians, and I can't possibly go to them all. Last week in particular was wild. I had two big events in one night which were great and I took the weekend "off" in order to recuperate from the rest of the week. It's a happy problem to have, most of the time. But a gal has to pick and choose in order to get a good sleep every now and then.

That being said, there are occasions that I hear of a show after the fact from musicians I like or am friends with, and I end up being bummed out because I might have gone to the show had I known about it. So, do make sure you are plugging your gigs well. If you are someone who doesn't play out as much, be sure your show isn't just buried on your calendar. If you are on MySpace, send out a bulletin a couple of days in advance! It's good to have all those bases covered, even though folks who have a large number of MySpace friends get tons of bulletins competing for attention. I hit that 1,000 friend milestone this past week, but I do try to page through those as much as possible. (On the other hand, don't go too extreme and post several bulletins all at once! That can be overkill and it's a turnoff to some people. Moderation is the key.)

And if you really want to make sure someone knows about a show—send an e-mail, too!

Just a little friendly advice from a promo gal...