This is a year of significant anniversaries for a number of Nashville’s musical institutions, and a party marking one of them on Monday, March 27, was a doozy.
The day before, the Ryman Auditorium had staged “community day” in honor of its 125th birthday, and on April 1, the Country Music Hall of Fame plans to celebrate its 50th with a day full of events. But on Monday, Tin Pan South was in the spotlight. The Music Row branch of Regions Bank threw open its doors to host the kick-off party for the songwriter festival’s 25th anniversary.
Region’s Lisa Harless proudly showed off a baby grand piano in the bank’s vestibule. It was being played – beautifully — by Rob Arthur. He’s Peter Frampton’s keyboardist who has moved here along with the rock superstar.
Meanwhile, out in the lobby, songwriters were cheek-by-jowl packed in – Rory Bourke, Dennis Morgan, Steve Bogard, Steve O’Brien, Roger Murrah, Jimbeau Hinson, Wood Newton, Jeff Silbar, James Dean Hicks, Lee Thomas Miller, Scott Reeves and more.
Attendee Billy Burnette says he’s set to release an autobiography and accompanying CD this spring. That should be lively reading, since he’s been on the scene since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, thanks to his pioneering dad and uncle.
Writer-artists working the room included Jim Lauderdale, Rick Monroe, Marc-Alan Barnette, Jeremiah Richey and the like. Monroe posed for a photo with Mayor Megan Barry, whom everyone wanted to meet and greet. She worked the attending media like a pro, as did Erika Wollam Nichols. Erika’s Bluebird Café, by the way, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.
The catering at the Regions Bank bash was by Maggiano’s Little Italy. And, brother, was it deluxe – spicy meatballs, cucumber slices with herb cheese, BBQ pork sliders, tomato caprese skewers and Italian cheeses covered one grazing station. Those with sweeter palates hovered near the table offering mini crème brulee cups, lemon cookies, mini New York cheesecake morsels and assorted baked delights.
A who’s-who of Music Row fabulons worked the room. Sherrill Blackmon, Barry Coburn, Christy Walker-Watkns, Preshus Tomes Harris, Tracy Gershon, David Preston, Chris Keaton, Randy Perkins, Bob Doyle, Cary Owen, Bev Moser, Jessi Maness, Becky Harris, Nathan Pyle, Andrew Kintz, Craig Shelburne, Craig Campbell, Martha Moore and Butch Baker all schmoozed mightily.
“Is it time for Tin Pan South again, already?” asked John Ozier, marveling that a year had flown by since the last gathering that has become America’s largest songwriter fest.
Yes, and now it’s a grown-up 25 years old.
This year’s Tin Pan South round of showcases will take place Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, March 29-April 1. The venues are The Blue Bar, The Commodore Grille, Douglas Corner Café, The Country, The Station Inn, The Bluebird Café, Whiskey Rhythm Saloon, The Listening Room, The Hard Rock Café, and 3rd & Lindsley. Arrive early. The shows are often sold out.
The bookings are awesome. Among the 400+ tunesmiths slated to appear are Buddy Cannon, Sonny Curtis, Randy Montana, Billy Montana, Billy Falcon, Mac Davis, Lari White, Lori McKenna, Rhett Akins, Dickey Lee, Pat Alger, Leslie Satcher, Shane McAnally, Brothers Osborne, Natalie Hemby, Brent Cobb, Lance Miller, Kellie Pickler & Kyle Jacobs, Beth Nielsen-Chapman, Keb Mo, Desmond Child, Gary Burr, Paul Overstreet, Kim Richey, Angaleena Presley, Matraca Berg, Gretchen Peters, Larry Gatlin, Allen Shamblin, Al Anderson, Rivers Rutherford, Bobby Braddock and Bekka Bramlett.
The presenter of Tin Pan South is the Nashville Songwriters Association International, which is yet another anniversary celebrant in 2017. This is the NSAI’s 50th birthday. In case you’re keeping score, this year is also the Nashville Symphony’s 70th season, the 10th anniversary of the Music City Walk of Fame, the 60th birthday of RCA Studio B and the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
One of the things I enjoy the most about working with the music community is meeting new people, all the different people it takes to make the music!
I had the opportunity to sit down with the lovely, bubbly, energetic and amazing artist Paulina Jayne along with her manager Tess Davies.
Paulina recently received the DISCovery award from Bob Oermann for her single, "Love's Gonna Always Win" and the video has reached over 30K views on Facebook.
Watch the video interview below and you can also see the FB Live version on my personal page - we would love to see your comments!
A Little More About Paulina Jayne:
A junior at Belmont University, Jayne’s enthusiasm for her craft began at a young age, and her songwriting prowess enabled her to work alongside famed songwriters since age 14. With hundreds of original songs in her catalog, Paulina’s writing credits include collaborations with Shane McAnally, JTX, Bonnie Baker, Steph Jones, Danny Orton and of course her producer/mentor Trey Bruce. “Paulina is writing the kinds of songs the newest youth movement of country listeners really love, but with a slight variation in the images and the language. From growing up in Detroit, she's picked up an irresistible rhyming pattern with her lyrics that set her apart from the pack. Paulina is an artist to watch and listen for closely!” says Bruce.
With powerhouse vocals and a natural ability to engage the crowd, Jayne is a hair-whipping, high-energy and seasoned performer that has shared the marquee with renowned country music artists Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Hunter Hayes and Miranda Lambert, and opened for the talented Sheryl Crow, Sam Hunt and Chase Rice.
This came across my desk today, as a reminder our words matter. In 2007 I was working for a publication and as part of my contract I did reviews of new music ... today, in 2016, nine years later, the artist is quoting me.....
Rick Stephenson Release New Single
Rick Stephenson returns with his new single “Make It Real”. Watch here
Simply put, Rick Stephenson is a Singer/Songwriter from Johnson Creek, WI who offers traveling worship ministries. However there’s much more to Rick than can be simply put. He has a passion for leading others in worship and has a creative way of expressing it through his music. He has won awards from the Song Door International Competition, Great Lakes Songwriting Contest and Write About Jesus. Rick has also had radio airplay of several of his songs including: “Sanctuary of My Heart”, “You Gave”, “Christmas Is Here”, “God Himself”, “Christmas Is Jesus”, “Rebuild My Heart” and “Center of My Heart” on US and International stations as well as numerous Internet radio sites.
Rick Stephenson was born in Libertyville, Illinois and raised in Rockford, Illinois. His journey into music began at the age of eight during a ride in his family’s Chevy. He explains, “I vividly remember sitting on the seat of that big old El Camino. As I was tapping my fingers along to the car stereo, my mom suddenly turned and suggested that my fingers needed piano lessons.” Soon after, his parents enrolled him in piano lessons and Rick began his travels down “El Camino.”
Rick’s mother and father were very religious. Rick would tag along as they attended daily church services and when they practiced in the choir. It was the exposure to church music that had a massive influence on young Rick. “I remember my dad telling me that I sang too quiet, like a church mouse,” Stephenson continues, “so I would keep singing louder until everyone could hear me.” This theme of singing loud enough to be heard by everyone in the church would later be important for him. Rick would eventually realize that he could deliver a message to a large group of people through his music. However, he still had miles to travel on his path.
Throughout his teenage years, Rick continued piano lessons and began songwriting. “I disliked lessons and playing classical music, but I loved learning chords and scales, as well as trying out new sounds,” explains Rick. Deeply inspired by the pop sounds of the 1980s, Stephenson would lay awake at night with his Sony Walkman drifting off to the sounds of Top 40 radio. By his late teens Rick was a budding songwriter who had developed the ability to compose rich, melodic compositions.
After high school, Rick remained very much involved with music while attending a community college. He was active in choir, theatre, and performed with music review troops. After leaving for a four year college, his parents recommended a traditional field of study. His choice was to be an accountant, like his father. From the age of nineteen to twenty-eight, Rick was completely out of music. He landed a job that would take him around the world. However, these twists and turns in the path still had importance. It gave him the opportunity to see the world, and learn about people from all walks of life, and this would be important later for his ministry.
In 1994, Rick had a rekindling of his spiritual faith and an awakening of his muses. While attending worship services by gospel artist Vicki Yohe, he had an epiphany. He began to comprehend what God wanted him to do with his life – be an instrument to spread God’s message. Rick became sure of his calling at a Morton Bustard Ministries event in 1995. It would be at this event that God made a promise to use Rick to minister to others. Rick recalled his ability as a “church mouse” and knew he could be heard – he was back on the path.
The years that followed allowed Rick to develop into a strong minister and worship leader as he soaked up the Bible and began to dive back into music. By 2002, Stephenson was taking his songwriting seriously and began to compose new material. In 2005 he started his own ministry and in 2007, his own publishing company called N-Siteful Music to facilitate the release of his debut CD entitled Sanctuary of My Heart. The album examines one’s relationship with God. With pop sounds and eclectic styles, Stephenson’s debut is a unique blend of Christian music with a mainstream and pop style. The album has received many positive reviews for its uplifting and lively songs. Bev Moser of Music News Nashville wrote, “Each song on this project has a high-energy feel and an excitement of living life with the appreciation of Christ’s guidance.” Sanctuary of My Heart reveals Rick’s purpose in his music. He has now become both musician and minister.
Rick’s goal is that people are blessed by God through his ministry and songwriting. He sees himself as an instrument of the Holy Spirit – a musical messenger to lead others to intimacy with God. Stephenson explains “I love to see how a particular song will touch or encourage someone in my audience. I then know that God has used me to reach them. That is an awesome experience and an incredible responsibility for me.” According to Rick, “we are all on a spiritual journey to discover God and His promises.” If so, it’s certainly a unique journey that Rick Stephenson has taken on “El Camino” – “the path” from piano to promise in a truly evangelical evolution.
Eric T. Parker • November 1, 2016 •
Maggie Rose, Lucie Silvas and Margo Price were among those selected to offer songs on behalf of their freshman class, including Caitlyn Smith, Jamie Lynn Spears, Jillian Jacqueline, Kree Harrison, Logan Brill, Post Monroe and Runaway June.
Surprise co-host Brandy Clark performed “Two Kids No Husband” before CMT Sr. VP of Music Strategy and Talent, Leslie Fram, surprised her with the first annual CMT Next Women of Country Impact Award.
“We started the [Next Women] franchise because of Brandy Clark,” said Fram after Clark detailed how a promise of support from the executive led her to spend her savings on a video for “Stripes.”
Two in-the-round performances were delivered. Before the second round, Martina McBride made a surprise appearance to announce her Love Unleashed Tour will be amplified by CMT’s Next Women series and feature special guest Lauren Alaina.
“CMT’s Next Women of Country is a movement that I truly believe in—throughout my career I’ve championed women,” said McBride. “Mentoring and passing along any lessons or knowledge we’ve learned to the new generation is really important and I’m learning from them. For women, when one of us wins, we all win and we’re stronger when we support each other. I’m thrilled to be a part of this!”
Kicking off the first round of performances were Aubrie Sellers (“New City Blues” and a cover of The Kinks’ “All Day And All Of The Night”), Maddie & Tae (“Somebody Will,” written for their upcoming album), Maggie Rose (“More Dreams Than Dollars,” a new title and was announced as a recent signee with Narvel Blackstock), Mickey Guyton (“What I’ve Yet To Find,” a Lady Antebellum-written song she found before getting signed), and Tara Thompson (“A World Without Willie,” co-written with Alex Kline, Erin Enderlin, Leslie Satcher).
Alaina led the second round of performances (“Road Less Traveled”) with additional artists Lindsay Ell (“All Alright”), Lucie Silvas (“I Really Loved You”), Margo Price (“Hands Of Time”), and RaeLynn (“Love Triangle”).
“Four years ago we identified a gaping hole in the industry,” said Fram. “[We tried to find a way] for women to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, support each other, and grow female voices in our industry. So much has happened in the last few years, we’ve had a tour going into its third year, a digital franchise, 20 artists in the CMT studio, and our next class.”
Robert K. Oermann • October 27, 2016 •
The stars were there to celebrate the evening’s honorees – Garth Brooks & The G-Men, the Sigma Sound Studio Band (creators of TSOP, The Sound of Philadelphia), the late Jerry Reed, Don Felder of The Eagles, Ricky Skaggs, producer Allen Reynolds and engineers Lou Bradley, Ron “Snake” Reynolds, Joe Tarsia and Mark Miller.
“I’m proud to say you are staring at the weakest link in this group,” said Brooks, standing with the musicians who have played on his hit records.
“It’s very humbling to be here in this hallowed hall,” said Skaggs.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine success or recognition of this magnitude,” commented Felder.
The evening began with the hit 1974 instrumental “TSOP” as people took their seats. Skaggs, Wariner, Felder and Gordon Kennedy then lined up to harmonize on “Seven Bridges Road.” The song was written by Steve Young, who passed away earlier this year.
“What an amazing group of singers,” said Felder. “What a spectacular night. Thank you for coming.” He then performed his Eagles composition “Victim of Love.”
From out in the crowd came solo soprano-sax notes. A spotlight pointed out Kenny G, who slowly made his way down through the audience to take the stage while playing.
“I’m Kenny G, your host for the night, and I am honored to host the fifth annual Musicians Hall of Fame ceremony,” he said. “This museum celebrates players, and that’s why we’re here tonight.”
Skaggs took the stage to sing “Heartbroke.” This song was authored by Guy Clark, who also died this year. On the gospel tune “Somebody’s Prayin,’” Skaggs was accompanied on piano by the song’s writer, John Elliott. Hornsby joined Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder on “The Way It Is.” This drew the night’s first standing ovation.
Brooks presented Skaggs with his induction medallion. “This is amazing,” said the honoree. “Thank you so much for this….Thank you, Emmylou [Harris], for having faith in me and hiring a hillbilly.” Skaggs also expressed gratitude to attendee Brian Ahern, who taught him how to produce records. He thanked Sharon White, his wife of 35 years, as well as her 85-year-old, still-performing father Buck White and her sister Cheryl, among others. “Most of all, I want to thank the Lord Jesus for giving me the talent,” concluded Skaggs.
AFM president David Pomeroy explained that the union partners with the Musicians Hall of Fame to vote on who gets into the Hall. “It’s a Lifetime Achievement award, regardless of genre or era,” Pomeroy said. “Thank you for supporting these great musicians.”
He next saluted the four honored engineers. “Masters of their craft, welcome to the Musicians Hall of Fame!” stated Pomeroy. Tarsia, Miller, Reynolds and Bradley offered acceptance speeches.
Wariner inducted his friend and mentor Jerry Reed (1937-2008). He and Kennedy performed the honoree’s “Thing Called Love,” “Amos Moses” and “East Bound and Down.”
“Jerry Reed Hubbard lived the American Dream,” said daughter Seidina Hubbard, who accepted with her sister Lottie. She said that Reed was born in a hobo jungle and rode the rails with his parents before achieving success. “Daddy was unique. He was one of a kind. He was an innovator. Thank you for recognizing his genius tonight.”
Melinda Doolittle honored the Sigma Sound team. “It took a lot of sensitivity to create The Sound of Philadelphia,” she said.
The living members present to accept were Charles Collins (drums), Bobby Eli (guitar), Dennis Harris (guitar), Jimmy Williams (bass) and Earl Young (drums). Others on that team included the absent Tommy Bell (keyboards) and the late Ronnie Baker (guitar), Norman Harris (guitar), Vince Montana (vibes), TJ Tindall (guitar) and Larry Washington (congas).
Stylistics vocalist Thompkins drew standing ovations for “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” “Stone in Love with You” and “Betcha By Golly Wow.” Doolittle joined him on the 1979 Philadelphia Sound hit “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.”
“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have had a job for the last 45 years,” said Thompkins of the honorees. “This is their night.”
Kenny G brought out the Musicians Hall of Fame’s founder. Joe Chambers got a standing ovation and introduced attendees Gary Tallent, James Burton and Steve Cropper seated in the audience. He then invited Frampton to the stage, who drew another s.o.
“It’s nice to be back,” said Frampton. He explained that Felder was being presented with Musicians Hall of Fame’s Iconic Riff award for the guitar part he created for “Hotel California,” which Felder co-wrote.
Frampton and Felder then recreated that twin-guitar rave-up on The Eagles’ biggest hit. Garth Brooks stood, transfixed in admiration from the front row, as the two dueled instrumentally.
“This is such an honor,” said Felder. “Thank you all for helping me to do what I love to do.”
Dickey Lee welcomed Reynolds to the Hall. In addition to Brooks, Reynolds is notable for producing hit discs for such stars as Crystal Gayle, Chris LeDoux, Bobby Bare, Hal Ketchum, Don Williams, Trisha Yearwood, Emmylou Harris, The O’Kanes and Kathy Mattea.
“My heroes have mostly been songwriters and musicians,” said Reynolds. “As a producer, I have always known I am standing on their shoulders. I am forever in awe of their skills, especially The G-Men, Garth’s studio band. I am so honored to be associated with their name in the Musicians Hall of Fame, as well as with Mark Miller. I would also like to thank the one and only Garth Brooks.”
This evolved into the induction of The G-Men — Bruce Bouton (steel), Mark Casstevens (rhythm guitar), Rob Hajacos (fiddle), Chris Leuzinger (lead guitar), Milton Sledge (drums), Bobby Wood (keyboards) and the late Mike Chapman (bass). An earlier induction ceremony had been staged by Chambers with The G-Men to honor Chapman, a few days before his death in June.
Brooks and The G-Men performed “The Thunder Rolls,” the audience sing-along “Friends in Low Places” and “The Dance.” The last-named got a standing ovation and was dedicated to Chapman.
“Mike loved Garth and The G-Men with all his heart,” said Chapman’s widow Connie. “He passed with knowing he was so appreciated and loved. He had the chance to have The Dance.”
“I know I speak for all of these guys when I say it’s been a labor of love,” said Casstevens. “Garth, thank you for being the most loyal artist in music history, and for generously shining the spotlight on us so many times,” added Leuzinger. “Twenty-seven years [together in the studio],” marveled Wood. “I can’t believe it. Thank you for celebrating with us tonight.”
Reynolds inducted Brooks, who got yet another s.o. “He never acted like a star,” said Reynolds. “He was always a team member. That’s why the music turned out so well.” Brooks, in turn, praised each member of his longtime studio band. He pointed out that Wood has now been inducted twice, thanks to previous recognition as a member of The Memphis Boys.
“What a night,” exclaimed Kenny G. “Super impressive: I’ve seen things I’ve never seen before. It’s been an honor [being the host]. This music is the fabric of our lives.”
The all-star house band was joined by all of the honorees and celebrity guests in a finale jam session on the 1973 O’Jays TSOP classic “Love Train.”
The Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum is located in the lower level of Municipal Auditorium. It was the site of the after-party, as well as the pre-show press conference.
Jessica Nicholson • October 25, 2016 •
Brooks’ storied career began after he moved from his native Oklahoma to Nashville. By 1988, he was selling boots in downtown Nashville, and writing the lyrics and melodies that would become anthems for a generation of music fans.
Brooks signed with Capitol Nashville and released his debut album Garth Brooks in 1989. The album would go on to be certified Diamond in the United States. Diamond certification would follow for albums including 1991’s Ropin’ The Wind, 1994’s The Hits, 1997’s Sevens, 1998’s Double Live (2x Diamond), and 2007’s The Ultimate Hits.
Governor Bill Haslam noted that all of those albums were recorded in Tennessee. Haslam also presented Brooks with a custom belt buckle embedded with seven diamonds.
“This state has treated me like a native son,” said Brooks, before welcoming fellow Oklahoma native and country legend Reba for a rendition of “Not Counting You,” a track from Brooks’ 1989 debut album.
Reba recalled, “I’ll never forget the first time we got to work together. It was in Illinois, and I was down in my dressing room getting ready and my tour manager came up to me and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this guy opening the show for you tonight.’ I said, ‘Why?’ and he said, ‘He’s all over the place.’ So I had to go up and watch him. So I watched you in the year of 1990, 1991 when you and I got to tour together. We all saw something very special, very different, something sweet and we love you very much. I am very humbled and honored to be part of this night for you.”
Chris Young joined for a moving, pitch-perfect offering of “The River,” after telling Brooks, “It’s an honor to be onstage with you.”
Jason Aldean surprised the audience with “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).”
Kelly Clarkson sang a soulful arrangement of “We Shall Be Free.”
Steve Wariner offered a duet of “Long Neck Bottle,” and was later coaxed back to the stage by Brooks and Clarkson, who boldly asked for Wariner to perform his song “The Weekend.” Warner obliged, at times serenading Clarkson as she danced around the stage.
It was Brooks’ duet with wife and country star Trisha Yearwood that had the audience perhaps the most spellbound. The crowd was hushed as the two sang “In Another’s Eyes,” followed by Yearwood’s “Walkaway Joe.”
“The guy I knew in 1987 is the same kind, compassionate, good guy,” Yearwood told the audience. “As an artist, I’m glad to be a part of your life.”
After the string of artist guest appearances, Brooks shone the spotlight on perhaps his most special guests—his fans.
Numerous times, Brooks let the fans take the lead on songs including “Two Pina Coladas” and “The Thunder Rolls.”
“You guys came here to sing,” Brooks said, reading the crowd’s reaction. “Let’s put you back to work,” he said, before playing the opening chords of “Unanswered Prayers.”
Numerous times throughout the concert, he gave a nod to recent Country Music hall of Fame inductee Randy Travis, who was in the audience.
The show neared to a close as RIAA’s Liz Kennedy took the stage to present Brooks with his seventh Diamond award, making him the only artist in music history to have seven albums sell more than 10 million units each, surpassing the Beatles’ record of six Diamond albums.
The RIAA has spearheaded its Gold and Platinum program for nearly 60 years.
“It’s an honor to be the in the great state of Tennessee tonight…to celebrate this wonderful place and this distinguished musician,” she said. Kennedy noted that Brooks has sold more than 138 million albums in the United States alone, making him the No. 1 solo artist in history. He has earned 21 Platinum albums, 15 Multi-platinum albums, and seven separate diamond albums.
“The list of thank you’s is unbelievable, starting with God and my parents, and even the list of people that came before you,” said Brooks. “This doesn’t happen without Haggard, Jones, Buck Owens and Keith Whitley. All of country music doesn’t happen without Randy Travis, I can tell you that. All I ever wanted to be in my life was George Strait, so I think my greatest blessing and thank you is that Garth Brooks’ name is on here.”
For an artist who has placed his listeners front and center throughout his time in the spotlight, the celebration ended appropriately, with just Brooks and his fans bonding and exchanging a musical energy. The evening closed with a full-blown fireworks display lighting up the amphitheater.
Earlier in the night, Brooks performed “The Dance,” the final track from his 1989 debut album and a song that would become a signature hit and fan favorite throughout the years.
As he basked in the adulation of his fans, it was apparent he wouldn’t have missed this dance for anything.