The annual kick-off party for the massive Tin Pan South festival gathered dozens of tunesmiths and their pals at the Music Row Roundabout branch of Regions Bank.
Sherrill Blackmon, Steve Bogard, Martha Moore, Michael Jay, Dale Dodson, Brandon Will, Erika Wollam Nichols, Rory Bourke, Chase Chapman, Porter Howell, Bart Herbison, Sam Hollander, Randi Perkins, Michelle Goble, Preshus Harris, Bev Moser, Victoria Mainhardt and Ashley Evans were among the early arrivals at the soiree. Hostess-with-mostest Lisa Harless greeted one and all in the balloon-festooned bank lobby.
The festival’s opening party is usually packed shoulder to shoulder. This year, it was not. Several attendees mentioned that their bodies were there but their hearts and minds were shrouded in grief because of the mass school shooting that morning in Nashville. We were there despite the somber shadow, trying to maintain and support this worthy event.
Now in its 31st year, Tin Pan South is the world’s largest songwriting festival. It gathers more than 300 tunesmiths from all points on the compass. They perform for five days’ worth of gigs at 10 Music City venues — 3rd & Lindsley, The Bluebird Cafe, Commodore Grille, The Lounge (City Winery), Analog (Hutton Hotel), Cross Eyed Critters Watering Hole (Graduate Hotel), The Hard Rock Cafe, The Listening Room, Live Oak and The Vinyl Lounge.
Marlon Hargis and Sonny LeMaire of Exile were being interviewed about the bank’s handsome, extensive exhibit saluting the band’s 60th anniversary. If you’ve not been there, go see that Regions office — it also has an impressive Beatles display, cool posters, guitars and other music artifacts under glass.
Bryan Ruby was celebrating the release of “Baseball Country,” his single timed to the launch of this year’s baseball season. The former pro ball player performed at 10 major-league ballparks last season and plans to do more this year. He’ll sing the National Anthem for the Pittsburgh Pirates in June. At other stops, he plays pre- or post-game concerts or sings at adjacent sports bars.
Nashville-based Susan Stewart is the head of the songwriter & composer wing of the Recording Academy. Her gig is made much easier because she’s based in America’s songwriting capital. Songwriters who don’t live here, almost always come to town to co-write, no matter what genre they represent. When she worked for the Nashville Songwriters Association years ago, Stewart helped to stage Tin Pan South.
The attendees were treated to two free, full bars. Maggiano’s did the catering — a buffet featuring stuffed mushroom caps, rigatoni in parmesan meat marinara, chicken pesto croquettes with lemon aioli sauce, veggies, a variety of cheeses, caprese salad and mini Italian bread slices, plus cheesecake cups, topped by strawberries.
Let the festival begin.