Perhaps the most underrated party of the year is the one that annually kicks off the Tin Pan South festival.
Those of you who do not attend are missing one of Music Row’s great “hangs.” This soiree has it all. The bar isn’t crowded. The drinks are free. The food is super. The guest list is full of songwriters. What’s not to love?
It also gets points for being a world-class schmoozefest. Because it isn’t overly crowded, Bobby Karl can really work this room.
This year’s Tin Pan South launch party took place in the Regions Bank lobby at the Roundabout on Monday evening (March 23).
Jimbeau Hinson, James Dean Hicks, new pop showcaser Lara Johnston, Rich Fagan, Harry Stinson, Matt Warren, Steve Bogard and country newcomers Brit Willson and Mignon Grabois were among the music makers partaking of all the gratis goodies.
Larry Weiss reports that he is working on a “Rhinestone Cowboy” musical. Nashville Opera CEO John Hoomes was thrilled to be mingling with hit writers. Veteran hunk Bernie Nelson is en route to Ireland, where his Blue CD is getting mucho airplay. “Wait until they find out I don’t have a 32-inch waist,” he quipped.
Marc-Alan Barnette is performing with Jimbeau Hinson, Paul Jefferson and Lisa Brokop billed as “a trip down memory lane.” “It’s rough when you’re now the veteran,” he moaned.
“I hate it when they start calling you ‘Mister,’” I commiserated.
Ole honchos John Ozier and Randall Foster were celebrating their publishing company’s ongoing expansion. Dave Pacula was eager for the conventioneers to see and hear his Black River artist Kelsea Ballerini.
John Briggs, Wayne Halper, Tammy Ragusa, Scott Johnson, Kira Florita Hilley, Craig Campbell, Doak Turner, Sherrill Blackmon, Writer’s Den Music’s Bobby Rymer, Chuck Whiting, Jerry Crutchfield, Preshus Tomes, Hank Adam Locklin, Randy Perkins, Kate Richardson, Blake Chancey, D. Brett Holladay, Brad Peterson, Roger Nichols, Vernell Hackett and Butch Baker were working the room like the pros they are.
“I just want to be known as a ‘fabulon,’” said Chris Keaton. “That’s my life’s ambition.” Consider it done.
The cocktail supper was catered by Maggiano’s Little Italy, and you can’t quibble with that. Chicken pesto sliders, cucumber slices with herb cheese, tomato caprese skewers, pulled pork sliders, miniature meatballs (“miniature” being relative, since this was plus-portioned Maggiano’s), veggie slices and artesan cheeses were on hand, as was a dessert station of cookies, gelato and other delights.
Host Lisa Harless glided through, catching admiring glances with her mix of silver-and-turquoise jewelry and snug designer jeans. The NSAI’s Bart Herbison, Erika Wollam-Nichols and Jennifer Turnbow greeted one and all.
They are justfiably proud of their week of stunning songwriter events. Not only is this party a bona fide bonanza, the whole Tin Pan South fest is. The clubs participating are B.B. King’s, the Blue Bar, the Bluebird Café, the Commodore Grill, Douglas Corner, the Hard Rock, the Listening Room, the Station Inn, the Sutler and 3rd & Lindsley. Among the more than 350 (!) folks you can catch in these 10 Music City clubs on Tuesday through Saturday are Gordon Kennedy, Chuck Wicks, Jeff Stevens, Karen Staley, Michael Martin Murphey, Alan Rhody, Kim Williams, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Kye Fleming, John Oates, Victoria Shaw, Lori McKenna, Hugh Prestwood, Even Stevens, Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman, Don Henry, Gabe Dixon, Benita Hill, Colin Linden, Mark D. Sanders, Rob Crosby and Allen Shamblin.
Plus Gary Morris, Linda Davis, Lang Scott, Rebeca Lynn Howard, Will Hoge, Angaleena Presley, Lance Miller, RaeLynn, Josh Leo, Stephanie Bentley, James Otto, Tony Lane, Jessi Alexander, Barry Dean, Paul Overstreet, Ray Scott, Jeannie Seely, Leslie Satcher, John Scott Sherrill, Ella Mae Bowen, Lee Roy Parnell, Mac Davis, Larry Gatlin, Billy Montana, Kevin Kadish, Roger Cook, Brandy Clark, Charlie Worsham, Bill Anderson and Shane McAnally.
Be there or be square.