Friday (3/30) for the 6:30 early shows of Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival, MusicRow was at the Rutledge for a round hosted by Barry Dean with Trent Dabbs, Natalie Hemby and Big Machine Label Group’s Ella Mae Bowen.
Dabbs looked dapper in a grey jacket as he sung a few titles including a tribute to his songwriting hero titled, “Somebody’s Neil Young.” The singer brought his Sugar & The Hi Lows band mate, Amy Stroup to the stage for “I’ve Got You Covered,” and his ‘only fast song,’ “Two Day High.”
The raspy-voiced Hemby played a song she co-wrote with Dabbs called, “Home.” She also played a new song called “Pontoon,” which she wrote after her publisher comically misunderstood her song “Fine Tune.” Hemby announced “Pontoon” is expected to be Little Big Town’s new single. Her final song was an audience request for Lee Ann Womack’s cut, “The Bees.”
Barry Dean explained his glasses were making it difficult to read lyrics on the stand for, “Halfway Home,” and “Still Smoked Cigarettes.” Additionally, Dean honored Hemby’s request for “Moving Oleta,” a Reba cut about his grandparents growing old.
Ella Mae Bowen displayed incredible vocal dynamics on her, “Momma Knows Just What To Do” and “Stupid Over You.” Her emotionally revealing co-write with Rachel Thibodeau, “His Name was Sam,” told the story of her grandfather’s guitar he passed down to her. She wrapped up the round with her “Always Kiss Me Goodnight.”
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The late 9:30 round reservation-only Bluebird Café show with Brandy Clark, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves showcased all the current songs on the radio that hadn’t been played during Thursday evening’s round at the Rutledge.
Power hitter McAnally hosted the remarkably lively round, playing Chris Young’s latest single, “Neon,” which he wrote with Josh Osborne. He also performed Lee Ann Womack’s “Last Call,” and Kenny Chesney’s “Somewhere With You.” The young writer finalized the round with Jake Owen’s current No. 1, “Alone With You.”
Laird showcased the aforementioned “Pontoon,” (his co-write with Hemby). Additionally, he invited Barry Dean to the stage to sing their, “Cassette Generation.” Laird played another previously mentioned title, “Still Smoked Cigarettes,” written with Dean and Lori McKenna and expected to appear on Tim McGraw‘s upcoming album. Finally, Laird expressed his gratitude for Sara Evans‘ cut, “Stronger,” which he co-wrote with Hillary Scott and Hillary Lindsey.
Musgraves’ cool and simply-styled voice showcased her latest, “Merry Go Round.” The singer performed a new title called, ”Step Off,” and a ‘Glen Campbell-ish’ song she wrote with Clark and MacAnally called “Dandelion.” Before she played “Mama’s Broken Heart,” she proudly announced it was track number five on Miranda Lambert’s Four The Record CD.
Musgraves’ harmony with bright new talent, Brandy Clark, was reminiscent of The Judds. Clark’s title “Crazy Women,” explains that crazy men are the contributing factor to making women crazy. She also showcased a melancholy, “Get High,” and made a dedication to the night’s Mega-Millions lottery drawing with “Pray and Play.” Clark wrapped up with “I Hate Stripes,” a song about killing a cheating lover that McAnally contributed on the premise that ‘no crime of passion’s worth the crime of fashion.’
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Saturday’s early Rutledge round was hosted by Jen Foster and featured Stephanie Chapman, Emily West, and Kate York.
Foster showcased “The Least I Can Do,” which was written from her mother’s bedside. Foster also treated the audience to her, “Second Hand Love,” about longing for a genuine relationship.
York sang her version of the Sarah Buxton co-write, “Stronger Than Me.” The Big Yellow Dog songwriter also played her first ever country cut, “Some Things You Can’t Go Back To,” featured on Little Big Town’s new album.
Stephanie Chapman, accompanied by her producer husband, Nathan Chapman, sang a pensive song co-written with Leslie Satcher called “Reasons To Hang On.” West offered her voice for a song she co-wrote with the Chapmans, “Loser,” a play on words about a loser guy about to ‘lose her.’
West’s powerhouse vocals reverberated around the room on her, “Boys in the Morning.” She sang a perfect a cappella for her, “Why Do Lovers Leave.” To end the round, West dramatically requested the lights to dim as she sung the title track of her EP, I Hate You, I Love You.
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