Bobby Karl Works The Tin Pan Kick-Off Party

The Consortium’s Mike Martinovich, NSAI’s Susan Myers, Regions Bank’s Lisa Harless and hit songwriter Brian White (“Watching You”). All photos by Bev Moser

Chapter 335

A pre-party works much better.

Until a couple of years ago, Tin Pan South celebrated its successes with post-event bashes. Now it has a kick-off party that catches people while they’re still fresh for the fray. What’s more, it is a top-notch bash.

Staged by presenting sponsor Region’s Bank on Monday (3/29), the event featured yummy catering and an A-list crowd.

NSAI’s Susan Myers, ole’s Robert Ott, wife Robin, ole songwriter Chris Wallin (“Don’t Blink”) and ole’s Shane Barrett gather to celebrate the start of Tin Pan South.

I met Guy Gilchrist, which was a thrill. “Guy, who?” you ask. He is the cartoonist behind Nancy, the one who puts country stars names on the fronts of Aunt Fritzi Ritz’s tight, well-endowed shirts in the comic strip. It turns out that (1) he’s a Nashville resident and (2) is a country songwriter. Who knew? Anyway, he looks kinda like a kindly country outlaw with his long hair and big cowboy hat.

When I looked at the newspaper this morning next to the comic strip, sure enough, his web address is guygilchristmusic.com. And when you go there, you can hear him singing and have the opportunity to buy his debut EP. Go for it, buddy.

Also in the crowd were such out-of-town tunesmiths as Steve Dorff (“I Cross My Heart,” “Heartland”) and Eric Kaz (“Cry Like a Rainstorm,” “Love Has No Pride”).

Another visiting from out of town was Ken Paulson, the CEO of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and Diversity Institute in D.C. Ken is preparing a gala to honor Mary Chapin Carpenter there, and he had a very good question for Erika Wollam Nichols: “How do you tell who to let in from the online/blogosphere community?” “That’s a very good question, and I don’t know the answer,” sez I. “You’ll have to ask a publicist.” Where was attendee Kay Clary when we needed her? Does anyone else know the answer to this?

We noted such stellar Nashville songwriting names as Fred Knobloch, Buzz Cason, Liz Hengber (she has the new Bucky Covington single), Wood Newton, James Dean Hicks, Tim DuBois, Todd Cerney and Liz Rose. Songwriter Jimbeau Hinson and his wife Brenda (the Midsouth Exteriors TV lady) Fielder were also working the room.

I was happy to congratulate Will Kimbrough on his super new CD Wings. Check out his highly personable EPK on his website.

Trent Summar (Jack Ingram’s “Free” and “Love You”) reports that he has signed with Universal as a tunesmith. His wife, Casey Gill Summar, is the executive director of Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, which gives legal aid to underprivileged songwriters, musicians, filmmakers, visual artists and such. Isn’t that a worthy thing?

“I never see you at Music Row parties,” said Alan Rhody wryly. “That’s because you never go to any,” I replied, to which he heartily agreed, laughing.

Songwriters Trent Jeffcoat (The Writer’s Den Music Group) and Billy Worley (Memphis Music Association).

If you thought the BMI and ASCAP lobbies were echo chambers, let me introduce you to the marble-and-glass lobby of Regions Bank. As the event progressed, the place became deafeningly loud.

But there were definitely compensations. Lisa Harless informed us that the party was (brilliantly) catered by Maggiano’s. We dined on shish-ka-bobs, meatballs, prosciutto-wrapped melon, asparagus and other roasted veggies, plus lox, capers and hard boiled eggs, among more delights. One table groaned under a bounty of cookies, tortes, puddings, fruits, brownies, cakes, bon-bons and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Bart Herbison, Mark Brown, Mark Ford, Mike Sistad, Mike Martinovich, Alan Mayor, Al Schiltz, Leslie Tomasino DiPiero, Bobby Tomberlin (“One More Day,” plus singing on TV’s The Singing Bee), Sherrill Blackman, Joyce Simans, Charlie Monk, Preshias Tomes, Jim Schmidt, Jon Freeman and Trent Jeffcoat schmoozed. So now it is official: The 18th annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival is off and running. Have fun!

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