Night three of Tin Pan South energized us to finish out the week strong.
The early 6 pm reservation-only show at the Bluebird Café featured Lori McKenna, Sean McConnell, Troy Jones, and Adam Hood.
Hood’s soulful voice combined his rhythm and lead guitar skills kept our toes tapping through his, “Tennessee Will,” and “Deep Ellum Blues.”
McConnell, who has kept a low profile the past few months, showcased a magnificent new bluesy song titled “Second Coming” that called for a musical revival. Additionally, his voice sounded flawless as he played his, “Reckless Love.” For his finale, McConnell honored an audience request for, “A Prayer You Can Borrow.”
Jones drove up from Alabama for the performance, which featured a reflective song about a childhood of wanting, “We Got By.” The bar section of the room sang along to his “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer” and “People Are Crazy,” which he prefaced by noting he hadn’t taken a drink in years.
McKenna noted 6pm might be the earliest she has ever played the Bluebird as she sipped her drink. “There’s still light outside, and everyone is sober,” she said. Regardless, she shined on her Keith Urban album cut, “Luxury of Knowing.” Additionally, she played “How Romantic is That,” and the lyrical curveball “Sometimes He Does.”
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Over at Douglas Corner Cafe, Billy Montana gathered friends and family for an intimate round. Joining him were his son (Mercury Nashville artist) Randy Montana, Karen Staley, and Don Poythress.
Billy noted his companions were “not only some of my favorite writers, but some of my favorite people.”
Billy kicked off the proceedings with “You Follow The River,” and Randy followed up with his recent single “1000 Faces.” Staley tore into her Faith Hill cut “Take Me As I Am,” and Poythress’ started strong with his Easton Corbin No. 1 “A Little More Country Than That.”
Randy commented, “That song is so incredibly catchy. I’ve done so many parodies of it. You have no idea.”
Poythress, by the way, has a one week old baby boy. “He isn’t on a songwriter sleep schedule yet,” he joked.
The great songs kept coming: Billy played his Garth Brooks smash “More Than A Memory,” Sara Evans’ “Suds In The Bucket,” and Jo Dee Messina’s “Bring On The Rain.” Staley played “On A Night Like This,” a Trick Pony cut, and her Patty Loveless hit “Wicked Ways.” Poythress offered up his devastating “You Remain,” which Willie Nelson recorded in 2002, and “James White” in a fitting tribute to the artist who recorded it, Earl Scruggs.
Randy didn’t have the deep hits catalog of the other writers, but his original material like “Ain’t Much Left of Lovin’ You,” “Little Rock and the Rain,” and “It’s Gone” held its own throughout the night.
Staley proved herself to be the queen of quips during the round. A few of her best:
“My friend Sting told me not to name drop.”
“I tell people all I retain at this age is water. Speaking of, can I have some more volume?”
“Billy is always trying to improve. Hence the retainer in his teeth.”
Poythress closed out the evening with a romp through the hilarious “Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind,” which he wrote with Wynn Varble and Tim Johnson and went on to become a Kellie Pickler hit.
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“Glad To Be Here, Sir” took place during the 9 pm sessions at the Rutledge with hitmakers, Tom Douglas, Tony Lane, Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson, and James Slater, who played pretty much every song on the radio. It was the musical equivalent of a fireworks display, complete with an impressive grand finale.
Douglas played his first No. 1 song “Little Rock,” which he achieved at age 41 with Collin Raye. He continued with a medley of Lady Antebellum cuts, “Run To You,” and “Hello World.” His Miranda Lambert signature, “House That Built Me” made Lindsey pass her next turn because she teared up. Douglas called friend, Jaren Johnston to the stage for a tune about passing music through the generations called “Sing ‘Em Good My Friend” that appears on Kenny Chesney’s upcoming album.
Slater shared the piano with Douglas for the evening for a medley of titles from Kellie Pickler, Jessica Andrews and Martina McBride, “100 Proof”/”More To Me Than You”/”In My Daughter’s Eyes.” And a song he promoted in the hopes Tony Bennett would hear, “Ain’t My Baby Grand.”
Lane made an impact with his Tim and Faith duet “I Need You,” then flashed his Easton Corbin single, “Roll With It.” After Lane played “Somewhere South” about whiskey being a liar and time being a thief, Lindsey compared hearing a new Tony Lane song to waking up on Christmas morning to presents under the tree. Lane closed with his romantic, “A Woman Can Do That To A Man.”
Sampson contributed songs including his Keith Urban hit “You (Or Somebody Like You)” and paired with Lindsey for a handful of their co-writes.
Lindsey sang Lauren Alaina cut, “Tupelo,” which she co-wrote with Sampson. Lindsey was hopeful for it to become Alaina’s next single. Lindsey’s powerhouse vocals won the crowd over on the new Edens Edge single “Too Good To Be True.” She thanked Wild Turkey bourbon for her Lady Antebellum cut, “American Honey.” For the grand finale, she and Sampson shared “Jesus Take The Wheel.”
Reporting by Jon Freeman and Eric Parker