Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cirque du Chanson, 12th and Porter, 6/1/09

No aerial feats happening at Cirque du Chanson at 12th and Porter Monday night...just musical ones.

Here's the recipe: take seven dynamite singer/songwriters all on one stage, complete with backing band, throw their names into a jar and create a spontaneous order. Mix all this together and you've got the writers night taken to a new level.

The singer/songwriter lineup was Kim McLean, Mark Elliott (see Folklahoma write-ups), Robin English (she of recent Hippie Chick Twang and Mommapalooza Bluebird round), Leilah (daughter of 70s musical icon Melanie), Mary Sue Englund (of the Pam Tillis band and fellow former Minnesotan), and two wonderful artists new to me: Beth Fox and Mark Sloan. Devon O'Day served as MC and "ringmaster".

We were treated to a superb mix of musical genres from folk, gospel, pop to bluegrass. Each artist had five songs, and it was very well-paced...about 37 songs in a three hour set. It was mostly uptempo, higher energy fare but there were some touching ballads in the night as well. It was one of those nights where you just left amazed by the level of talent on stage and you wonder what it would be like to have even just a fraction of that for yourself.

More, more. This event must be repeated...it's a hit by me.

What a concept. What a town.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weekend Roundup

I do a radio show called "Never Too Old" on Radio Free Nashville which celebrates the music we baby boomers grew up with and loved, as well as spotlights musicians of that age demographic presently doing great musical stuff. However, I also believe in supporting and lifting up the young artists who are just getting started with carving out a musical direction. Some young ladies from Georgia who I saw at the Commodore this past weekend proved that it's a worthwhile effort. 14 year olds Anna Harwood and Hayley Golden, 13 year old Katelyn Pope and 12 year old Krysta Nick impressed my socks off with their songwriting, vocals, poise and confidence. Krysta in particular is definitely one to watch..she's already an old pro in performing in front of crowds. Her song, "Why", which she wrote herself at age 11, nailed woes of unrequited love as well as some songs written by adults two or three times her age. These gals will be in town playing at various places during the month of June, so keep your eyes and ears out for them.

On Saturday the FolklahomaAppalachi-Groove Train pulled into the station in Pegram at the Fiddle and Pick (coincidentally, just across the train tracks). Kim McLean, Devon O'Day, birthday boy Mark Elliott and percussion prodigy Will McJ rocked the house down as always. It was a busy day for Kim, Devon and Will who made an earlier stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for the "Songwriter Session" playing for a full house. I also want to say this about these folks. Not only are they incredible musicians...they're great people. As I've been preaching for years, the artist/fan relationship, when done properly and with the right intentions, works both ways. When both sides get and accept what the other's there for, without suspicion or agenda, it's a beautiful thing.

On Sunday many singer-songwriter friends gathered at CJ's 5th Sunday for food, friendship and a golf croquet tournament, with a cool opening set by the Harry James Band. Afterward, a few of us headed for the Commodore to support one of our own who was at the picnic--Mary Hartman, who was part of a round also featuring Ric Sandler and Jon Eben with Kristi Warner. Many times when I go there, I'm pleasantly surprised by who else is on the bill that I may not have known about. I was also delighted to hear Karen Angela Moore and Donna Ulisse (kudos to Donna who's been having a ton of success with her latest bluegrass release "Walk This Mountain Down").

I love my musical friends, old and new. I love this town.

SAVE THE DATE! Wednesday, September 9 at 7 p.m. ... Wendy V's birthday round at the Commodore Grill! No, I'm not playing, but some great people will be...stay tuned for details to follow. The Wild Oats Records round with my friends Steve Haggard and Kimberly King starts just before that at 6:30 p.m.