Monday, July 27, 2009
Weekend Roundup 7/24-25/09
Chely Tackett/Annie Mosher, Alex Harvey and band, Douglas Corner Café, 7/24/09
This was my first trip to Douglas Corner Café, which has legendary status as a top songwriters venue. I planned primarily to see Alex Harvey and the band. But it being that the parking situation could be a challenge, I decided to make a night of it and take in the early show featuring Chely Tackett and Annie Mosher. That turned out to be a great call. I’d heard Chely Tackett a time or two and remembered Annie Mosher from a CLC writers night (particularly her green rain boots!). They traded off songs throughout their set--both were musically excellent and personally engaging. Also, it was very nice to be so warmly welcomed and appreciated by both those ladies.
Speaking of appreciation, I’ve said this before: anytime you’re seeing Alex Harvey, whether solo or with his awesome band, he gives you everything he’s got in passion and just plain stellar songwriting. The folks who came out were royally entertained--for my money, Alex Harvey is one of the best live performers in this town. It’s all about honesty and emotion.
Ronnie Fruge, Mark Stephen Jones, Gary Payne, Nick Sturms, Bluebird Café, 7/25/09
Most of the rounds I’ve heard at the Bluebird contained a lot of humor. This round had some of that as well from time to time, but the key element to this one was heart.
I heard Ronnie Fruge play some killer guitar licks all night in Alex Harvey’s band the night before at Douglas Corner. On this evening it was nice to hear him in a setting where he got to play some of his own songs. He explained he was “half Fruge, half Benoit” in his introduction to a tribute song for his grandpa Pierre who helped raise him. His warm personality , sweet spirit and Cajun heritage shined through in all of his songs, again with some fine (acoustic) guitar playing and vocals.
One of the names I keep hearing regularly in the songwriter circles among those most admired is Mark Stephen Jones. He’s written with several writers in town. The songs he played demonstrated why he’s highly regarded, most especially one I’ve been impressed with, “Addicted”. I also enjoyed one hilarious song about being drunker than you ought to be (starting with a mouse declaring “bring on the cat”) and he got a strong reception to his song “Red White and Pink Slip Blues”.
Mark Steven Jones has been working with Nick Sturms, a talented young writer who was part of the round. His songs had a strong spiritual element to them and he brought emotion and passionate vocals to the evening.
A fine storytelling songwriter, Gary Payne provided one of the most moving moments of the evening, introducing and dedicating his song “Hope and Freedom” to a war hero who was in the audience. You can hear that song on Gary’s MySpace page at www.myspace.com/garypayne.
By the way, that was the first time I sat at the table next to the soundboard. I think it's my new favorite place to sit.
I had to slip out early on this one because I was due at…
Lorna Flowers 5th Anniversary in Nashville Party, Commodore Grill 7/25/09
I arrived to a packed house at the Commodore Grill in celebration of Lorna Flowers' 5th anniversary in Nashville (and hers and Rick and Tammy Stewart’s 1st anniversary of hosting the weekend writers nights). I wasn’t a bit surprised at the turnout…Lorna’s made quite an impact in this town not only as a singer/songwriter but also because of the genuine friendship and support she extends to everyone (including yours truly). I knew about half the people in the room, which always makes it fun for me!
There was cake, champagne, appetizers (which I missed along with the raffle...oh well!) and of course lots of great music! The one or two rounds I had a chance to hear included Graham Rodgers, Craig Winquist, Jerry Foster, Julie Forester, Brigitte Tatum (“She’s Country”), Kirsti Manna (“Austin”), and Lorna herself. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I of course had a radio show to do the next morning. Love ya Lorna, Rick and Tammy!
Let me close with one thought: if you support any artists, get out to the shows as much as you can, when you can. Don’t assume someone else will fill the seats. If everyone figures someone else will go and it won't matter, the artists may end up with a sparse house. That disappoints the artists...plus, you’ll miss out on seeing a great show. You being there can make all the difference in the world.
Lorna says it best: “Isn't Nashville the coolest place to live, with the coolest people?” I say amen to that.