ASCAP songwriters Ashley Gorley, Jon Nite, Matt Jenkins, and Cassadee Pope brought the ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO In The Round event to the Bluebird Cafe last night (Feb. 13) to promote the PRO’s upcoming EXPO in Los Angeles this May.
The songwriters were happy to talk about their experiences with ASCAP and at the EXPO, and honored to play their hits at the intimate venue. ASCAP’s Mike Sistad was on hand to introduce the writers and give some information about the conference.
“Fourteen years ago we launched our first ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ EXPO in Los Angeles,” Sistad said. “We felt there was a need for a music conference dedicated to the art-craft and business of songwriting, and boy were we right. That first year we had Tom Petty as our keynote, and we were off and running.
“From the start we presented panel discussions on everything from music publishing, music marketing, music placements,” he continued. “Everything a songwriter would need to know to move his or her career forward. We also have song feedback panels and one on one sessions.”
Six-time ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year, Ashley Gorley, played some of his numerous hits, including Blake Shelton’s “I Lived It,” Thomas Rhett’s “Marry Me,” Jon Pardi’s “Dirt On My Boots” and Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This.”
“ASCAP does lots of things,” Gorley said. “It’s tricky to explain what they do. They have EXPO, they have panels, they have writers’ nights, they listen to new writers’ songs. One of the things they do is figure out ways to pay us for songs that are on the radio, which is a great job. We love it. But there’s a lot that goes into that and they’re trying to fight battles for us and figure out how we can get what our songs are truly worth.
“I wrote this next song with a guy named Dallas Davidson,” he continued. “We sat down and said we want to write someone’s favorite song today. We want to pinpoint somebody finding their favorite song on the radio and that’s it.” He then started into Luke Bryan’s No. 1, “Play It Again.”
“I don’t know what to play after your super smashes,” Nite joked after Gorley played one of his 38 No. 1 hits.
“Well, you can play some of yours!” Gorley jested with a smile.
“What do I do? I’ll just play a medley of mine,” Jenkins teased Nite.
Nite, who will be a panelist at the EXPO this year, had just gotten back in town after attending the Grammys, where he had been nominated for Best Country Song. He played that Cole Swindell hit, “Break Up In The End,” as well as Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert’s “We Were Us,” Urban’s “Break On Me,” David Nail’s “Whatever She’s Got” and Lee Brice’s “Boy.”
“I’m excited to go out and talk to young songwriters,” Nite said. “I remember sitting in these seats right here and watching Jeffrey Steele just shred and sing higher than I could ever dream of singing; and Bob DiPiero and all these guys who were the class before us. Just trying to figure out how terrible my songs were in comparison to how good theirs were. They’d play songs like ‘What Hurts The Most’ and I’d go back home and be like ‘Woah, there’s another level you’ve got to get to, big man!'”
Matt Jenkins played a sampling of his No. 1’s, like his clever Old Dominion hit “Song For Another Time,” Sam Hunt and Keith Urban’s “Cop Car,” Dustin Lynch’s “Where It’s At” and a pretty, mild version of Florida Georgia Line’s “Confession.” Jenkins also performed a song called “Fade Into You” that felt appropriate to play at the Bluebird because it had been featured on the TV show Nashville. Pope provided the female harmonies reminiscent from the duet on the show.
“This was a song I wrote with Shane McAnally and Trevor Rosen that I really loved,” he said. “We write tons of songs, aiming for radio a lot of the time, but sometimes you write songs that you love hoping that they maybe could find a home. This had been around for a minute and the show Nashville was getting rolling and they found this song. I think they sang this at the Bluebird [on the show.] I never play this song out but it feels decently appropriate in the house.”
With the reverence of the Bluebird in mind, Pope played both songs she’d written and songs she wished she’d written, a couple of which show up on her recently released album, Stages.
“I love to write songs and it’s very therapeutic, but I also love to take advantage of living here and being exposed to these amazing, amazing songs,” she said before she went into her wistful “Take You Home” penned by Paul DiGiovanni, Ben Hayslip and Emily Weisband.
Pope also played “One More Red Light,” “Alien” and the tender “If My Heart Had A Heart”—written by CMT’s Next Women of Country tourmate Hannah Ellis with Josh Kerr and Matt McGinn—as well as her hit “Wasting All These Tears.”
The ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO will take place May 2-4. Tickets are available now. Purchasers can receive a discount with the code: BLUEBIRD.
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