Better Weather In Key West

Pictured backstage are (l-r): BMI’s Mark Mason and Jody Williams, Tom Douglas, Raul Malo, Robert Earl Keen, Jamey Johnson, Kim Carnes, Bob DiPiero, and BMI’s Clay Bradley. Photo by Brian Tipton

Many members of Nashville’s music community were in Key West, FL last week and through the weekend for the 15th annual Better Angels Music Key West Songwriters Festival.

Among the intimate shows was the Thurs., April 29 performance at the historic San Carlos Institute Theater. Hosted by BMI’s Jody Williams, the sold-out event featured three back-to-back sets from stacked lineups swapping stories and songs: Rebecca Lynn Howard and Kim Carnes; Tom Douglas and Bob DiPiero; and Jamey Johnson, Robert Earl Keen, and Raul Malo.

Local Songwriters Headed To Key West Festival

Tons of Nashville tunesmiths will be headed south for The Key West Songwriters Festival, running Wed., April 28 through May 2. The 15th annual festival will offer acoustic songwriter sets at venues all over the island, featuring over 150 top songwriters. In fact, half of the songs on the current Top 10 country singles chart are represented in this year’s roster.

Better Angels Music Group is sponsoring the event which will benefit the Muzak Heart and Soul Foundation.

Among the many top-tier writers attending this year are BMI’s 2009 Songwriter of the Year Bobby Pinson, Nashville Songwriter Association Hall of Fame members Bob DiPiero, Paul Overstreet, Hugh Prestwood, tell-it-like-it-is icons Robert Earl Keen and Jamey Johnson, hitmaking heavyweight Tom Douglas (Lady Antebellum’s “I Run To You,” Tim McGraw’s “Grown Men Don’t Cry”), Taylor Swift’s go-to co-writer Liz Rose, Dallas Davidson (Billy Currington’s “That’s How Country Boys Roll,” Brooks & Dunn’s “Put a Girl in It”), Luke Laird (Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home,” “So Small,” “Last Name”), Chuck Cannon (Martina McBride’s “I Love the Way You Love Me,” Toby Keith’s “How Do You Like Me Now”), James Slater (McBride’s “In My Daughter’s Eyes,” Rascal Flatts’ “Unstoppable”) George Ducas (Eli Young Band’s “Always the Love Songs,” Sara Evans’ “A Real Fine Place to Start”), and too many more to list.

Respected artists like Raul Malo will appear, as will rising stars such as Randy Houser and Joey + Rory. Also on the line-up are artists Jerrod Niemann, Brett Eldredge, Adam Hood, Dave Pahanish, Bridgette Tatum, Kip Moore, Blake Wise and Thompson Square, as well as pop stars Kim Carnes, Chris Barron (Spin Doctors), and Kevin Griffin (Better Than Ezra).

Visit for details.

ole Acquires Blacktop Music Catalog

ole, one of the world’s largest independent music publishers, has acquired the approximately 4000-song strong music publishing catalog of Blacktop Music Group, Inc. along with its names, brands and trademarks.

Founded in 2001 by multi-platinum recording artist Clint Black, noted business manager Charles Sussman and veteran music publisher Mike Sebastian, Blacktop has been home to some of Nashville’s finest and most prolific hit songwriters.

The Blacktop Music Group roster has included writers Marty Dodson, Jimmy Yeary, Gary Lloyd, Rhean Boyer, Chuck Allen Floyd, Matt Nolen, Liz Hengber and Thom McHugh. The company also represents the catalogs of Michael Lunn, Lonnie Wilson, Rory Lee Feek, Larry Boone, Roger Brown, Roxie Dean and Rick Bowles.

Among the chart-toppers represented are Billy Currington’s “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” (Dodson/Matthews); Kenny Chesney’s “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven” (Dodson/Collins); Blake Shelton’s “Some Beach” (Feek/Overstreet); Luke Bryan’s Top 5 hit “All My Friends Say” (Wilson/Bryan/Stevens); the Top 10 Lonestar single “Mountains” (Boone/Nelson/McDonald) as well as “A Man On A Tractor With A Dog In A Field” (Lunn/Agee) from Rodney Atkins’ platinum album, If You’re Going Through Hell.

“ole is pleased to have been chosen to take the great legacy created by Blacktop forward and we look forward to working hard for both the catalog songwriters and our new current roster additions who will join us at ole,” says ole Chief Creative Officer Gilles Godard.

Adds ole Chairman & CEO Robert Ott, “ole is proud to be part of the music community in Nashville and to support the art of songwriting.”

Photos: Tin Pan South Wrap Up [Updated 4/6]

A few highlights from Tin Pan South’s Thursday (4/1), Friday (4/2) and Saturday night shows.


BMI offered a stout lineup of storytelling guitar-slingers as part of the annual Tin Pan South songwriters’ festival. A deep crowd filled the Rutledge as Big Al Anderson, Shawn Camp and Pat McLaughlin delivered an acoustic set of originals followed by a full-band finale stacked with audience favorites.

Pictured are (l-r): (front row) BMI’s Clay Bradley, Al Anderson, and Shawn Camp; (back row) Pat McLaughlin and BMI’s Bradley Collins. Photo by Drew Maynard

Casey Beathard during his round at Douglas Corner Café.

Over at Douglas Corner, Kendall Marvel began the late round with “I’d Have Done A Lot Of Things Different,” and segued into “Right Where I Need To Be” and “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You.” Marla Cannon-Goodman showcased her hits “The Fool,” “Don’t Make Me” and “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo,” which she co-wrote with Casey Beathard. He performed crowd favorites “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems”, “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” and “Don’t Blink.” Phil O’Donnell offered his hits “She Won’t Be Lonely Long,” “Sounds Like Life To Me” and “Back When I Knew It All.”

Also on Thursday, SESAC hosted a night of music at Nashville’s Listening Room club, showcasing the talents of affiliates Ken Johnson, Lance Miller, Plumb, and Brice Long. A special appearance by recording artist Craig Campbell capped the evening, as he debuted music from his upcoming album due out via Bigger Picture.

Pictured (left to right): SESAC’s John Mullins & Shannan Tipton-Neese, Plumb, SESAC’s Amy Beth Hale, Lance Miller, NSAI’s Susan Myers, Brice Long, Ken Johnson & SESAC’s Tim Fink. Photo: Ed Rode

Friday Night:

The Hard Rock Café was hoppin’ during both shows. The early Multiple Sclerosis Society Benefit began with NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison introducing NSAI member Ron Russell, who opened the show with a song dedicated to his late brother who passed away from MS. Heidi Newfield took things up a notch with her Trick Pony smash “Pour Me.” She then performed “Johnny & June,” her first big solo hit, while the crowd sang along. Bobby Pinson entertained with “Don’t Ask Me How I Know,” as well as a medley of his Sugarland smashes – “All I Want To Do” and “Already Gone.” Kim Tribble’s tunes ranged from the witty “One In Every Crowd” to a more somber “I Can Still Feel You” before being joined onstage by Journey’s Jonathan Cain.

(L-R): Kim Tribble, Heidi Newfield and Bobby Pinson at The Hard Rock Café. Photo: Bev Moser

Jeffrey Steele at the Hard Rock Café.


Jeffrey Steele & Band kept things rockin’ until the wee hours of the morning at the Hard Rock Café. Going through Steele’s catalogue of hits and more, the band performed “I’m Tryin’,” “My Town,” “These Days,” “Speed,” “Hell Yeah,” “Gone,” “What Hurts The Most,” “Every Time I Hear Your Name,” “Me And My Gang,” “My Wish” and “Brand New Girlfriend.” Also appearing were surprise guests LoCash Cowboys.
Music City Unsigned, & WLRT sponsored both shows at 3rd & Lindsley on the final evening of Tin Pan South. Taking the stage during the early show were pop/rock songwriters Butterfly Boucher, Thad Cockrell, Katie Herzig, Daniel Ellsworth and Matthew Perryman Jones.

L-R: Butterfly Boucher and Thad Cockrell Photo: Bev Moser / Moments By Moser

Bobby Karl Works The Tin Pan Kick-Off Party

The Consortium’s Mike Martinovich, NSAI’s Susan Myers, Regions Bank’s Lisa Harless and hit songwriter Brian White (“Watching You”). All photos by Bev Moser

Chapter 335

A pre-party works much better.

Until a couple of years ago, Tin Pan South celebrated its successes with post-event bashes. Now it has a kick-off party that catches people while they’re still fresh for the fray. What’s more, it is a top-notch bash.

Staged by presenting sponsor Region’s Bank on Monday (3/29), the event featured yummy catering and an A-list crowd.

NSAI’s Susan Myers, ole’s Robert Ott, wife Robin, ole songwriter Chris Wallin (“Don’t Blink”) and ole’s Shane Barrett gather to celebrate the start of Tin Pan South.

I met Guy Gilchrist, which was a thrill. “Guy, who?” you ask. He is the cartoonist behind Nancy, the one who puts country stars names on the fronts of Aunt Fritzi Ritz’s tight, well-endowed shirts in the comic strip. It turns out that (1) he’s a Nashville resident and (2) is a country songwriter. Who knew? Anyway, he looks kinda like a kindly country outlaw with his long hair and big cowboy hat.

When I looked at the newspaper this morning next to the comic strip, sure enough, his web address is And when you go there, you can hear him singing and have the opportunity to buy his debut EP. Go for it, buddy.

Also in the crowd were such out-of-town tunesmiths as Steve Dorff (“I Cross My Heart,” “Heartland”) and Eric Kaz (“Cry Like a Rainstorm,” “Love Has No Pride”).

Another visiting from out of town was Ken Paulson, the CEO of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and Diversity Institute in D.C. Ken is preparing a gala to honor Mary Chapin Carpenter there, and he had a very good question for Erika Wollam Nichols: “How do you tell who to let in from the online/blogosphere community?” “That’s a very good question, and I don’t know the answer,” sez I. “You’ll have to ask a publicist.” Where was attendee Kay Clary when we needed her? Does anyone else know the answer to this?

We noted such stellar Nashville songwriting names as Fred Knobloch, Buzz Cason, Liz Hengber (she has the new Bucky Covington single), Wood Newton, James Dean Hicks, Tim DuBois, Todd Cerney and Liz Rose. Songwriter Jimbeau Hinson and his wife Brenda (the Midsouth Exteriors TV lady) Fielder were also working the room.

I was happy to congratulate Will Kimbrough on his super new CD Wings. Check out his highly personable EPK on his website.

Trent Summar (Jack Ingram’s “Free” and “Love You”) reports that he has signed with Universal as a tunesmith. His wife, Casey Gill Summar, is the executive director of Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, which gives legal aid to underprivileged songwriters, musicians, filmmakers, visual artists and such. Isn’t that a worthy thing?

“I never see you at Music Row parties,” said Alan Rhody wryly. “That’s because you never go to any,” I replied, to which he heartily agreed, laughing.

Songwriters Trent Jeffcoat (The Writer’s Den Music Group) and Billy Worley (Memphis Music Association).

If you thought the BMI and ASCAP lobbies were echo chambers, let me introduce you to the marble-and-glass lobby of Regions Bank. As the event progressed, the place became deafeningly loud.

But there were definitely compensations. Lisa Harless informed us that the party was (brilliantly) catered by Maggiano’s. We dined on shish-ka-bobs, meatballs, prosciutto-wrapped melon, asparagus and other roasted veggies, plus lox, capers and hard boiled eggs, among more delights. One table groaned under a bounty of cookies, tortes, puddings, fruits, brownies, cakes, bon-bons and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Bart Herbison, Mark Brown, Mark Ford, Mike Sistad, Mike Martinovich, Alan Mayor, Al Schiltz, Leslie Tomasino DiPiero, Bobby Tomberlin (“One More Day,” plus singing on TV’s The Singing Bee), Sherrill Blackman, Joyce Simans, Charlie Monk, Preshias Tomes, Jim Schmidt, Jon Freeman and Trent Jeffcoat schmoozed. So now it is official: The 18th annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival is off and running. Have fun!

Indie Success Story Colt Ford Plans New Album

Colt Ford, the self-made artist with a flair for mixing hip-hop with honky tonk, is planning his sophomore release on Average Joes Entertainment. Chicken And Biscuits will be available Tuesday, April 20 and features guests Randy Houser, Joe Nichols, Josh Gracin, Darryl Worley, Ty Stone, James Otto, DMC, and Kevin Fowler. The album, produced by Jayson Chance and Shannon “Fatshan” Houchins, is the follow-up to Ford’s debut, Ride Through The Country, which sold over 150,000 units and 450,000 purchased downloads.

Ford says, “I pushed myself so hard in writing and finding the songs for the record, and I was blessed to write with some of the greatest songwriters in the world. To be able to make a second album that I feel is better than the first and still maintain who I am as an artist…wow!” He performed over 200 shows last year, including dates with Larry The Cable Guy and Jason Aldean.

Ford began developing his musical style when he noticed that country venues played urban and hip-hop music between sets of the live country band, and that fans responded by getting on the dance floor. So at his wife’s urging, he set out to make music with a similar sound that he says, “speaks to country folk about our way of life.”

Also new from Average Joes is country artist Brantley Gilbert’s sophomore album, Halfway To Heaven. Released March 16, the project reached No. 3 on iTunes Country Albums Chart. The first part of Halfway To Heaven is about Gilbert’s life prior to a nearly fatal car accident, and the latter half depicts his life since then. Gilbert co-wrote all twelve tracks with writers including Ford, Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip, and Mike Dekle. As a songwriter, Gilbert has a cut by Jason Aldean.

Stars Go Blue, Springtime Stroll Concerts This Week

Rodney Crowell and Gretchen Peters are among the hit songwriters/artists set to perform at tomorrow night’s (3/23) 2nd annual The Stars Go Blue For Colon Cancer benefit. Joining them on the 7 PM line-up at the Loveless Barn are fellow tunesmiths Mike Reid, Barry Walsh and Peter Cooper, along with special guests Mike Snider, Wade Hayes and Bill Miller. Great American Country’s Nan Kelley will host the evening.

Up for bid will be 5 bar stools hand-painted by the appearing songwriters using the classic ribbon color for colon cancer – true blue. In addition, there will be one stool that was doodled and autographed by country music stars as they passed through the GAC studios.

Event tickets are on sale now and available at the Colon Cancer Alliance website,, and the Loveless Barn box office the day of the show. General admission is $35. Exclusive blue ribbon tables are also available for $500 and include front row tables (four seats per table).


In more benefit news, the 6th annual Music Row Springtime Stroll is taking place on Fri., March 26. The strenuous walk will start at Dan McGuinness Pub and run the lengthy 100 yards down Demonbreun to the Tin Roof where Tom Douglas, Jonathan Singleton, Mallary Hope, Ashton Shepherd and Rhett Atkins will perform. Proceeds benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

CMT Awards Date; NSAI/CMT Song Contest Winners

The ninth annual CMT Music Awards are set for Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The show is open to the public and will air on CMT and

The first round of nominations will be announced on Monday, April 5, with host and performance details to be revealed at a later date. CMT’s awards show usually draws an all-star list of performers who are in town for the CMA Music Festival, running June 10-13.

Fans can get more information via Twitter (@FollowCMT) or by becoming a fan of the CMT Music Awards on Facebook.

Tickets to the show go on sale Saturday, April 10 at all Ticketmaster outlets and the Bridgestone Arena Box Office.


CMT also partnered with the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) for the 10th Annual NSAI Song Contest Presented by CMT. Industry judges selected “I Am Wordless,” written by Tonya Poe of Pittsburg, KS; David Garcia of Tampa, FL; and Wayne Smotherman of Nashville; as the Grand Prize Winner.

Poe also co-wrote “Too Close To Sunday Mornings,” submitted by Gerry Grothues of Belleville, WI, which earned the CMT Listeners’ Choice Award after receiving a majority of the 450,000 online votes cast this year. This is the first time a writer has garnered top honors in both the industry and fan-voted categories in the same year.

As part of the prize package, Poe and her co-writers will perform their winning song during Tin Pan South. They will open for Rhett Akins, Scooter Carusoe, Brandon Heath and Lee Thomas Miller at Douglas Corner Cafe on Tuesday, March 30, at 9:00 p.m. The Grand Prize package also includes a mentoring session with Jewel, a single-song publishing contract with a major publisher, a three-day trip to Nashville, tickets to the 2011 CMT Music Awards, a Gibson guitar and much more.

“Scene” Digs Into McGraw Movie

Nashville Scene writer D. Patrick Rodgers on the local songwriters and musicians featured in the upcoming Gwyenth Paltrow, Tim McGraw flick, Love Don’t Let Me Down.

A Hollywood feature employs locals to tell a Music City story the right way — for once

It’s a Thursday night at Skyline recording studio, just off Eighth Avenue, a recording and rehearsal space much like any other in Music City. A few 12-packs of Coors Lite sit nearby, casually offered to visitors. A crop of young studio players has gathered to practice some songs. They’re cruising through a pop-country number called “Words I Couldn’t Say,” no sweat. It sounds like it could be a Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood tune — the sort of sugar-sweet, radio-ready gem these guys could track in a pass or two on any given day.

But they aren’t playing it live. They’re playing along to a track. All the pristinely pre-recorded parts are issuing forth from the P.A. speakers: drums, steel, bass, guitars, keys, a crystalline female lead vocal. The boys are just miming along.

Skylar Wilson barks out chord changes in the Nashville number system. This is his family’s studio, and, though he’s playing drums on these numbers, he seems to know every chord. He’s typically more of a keyboard guy, but like most everyone else in the room, he can get by pretty well on just about anything he picks up.

So why are they playing along to tracks? They’ve been cast as the backing band for two of Love Don’t Let Me Down’s lead characters, and they’re making sure they have all the changes just right for when they film a performance scene in the morning. This song, penned by Greg Becker, Tammi Kidd and Steve Robson, is to be performed by Chiles Stanton, a somewhat Taylor Swiftian up-and-coming singer played by Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester.

Keep reading.

Gill, Flatts, Steele, and Walker Headline Big Benefit Shows

Vince Gill will headline the 12th annual Jammin’ to Beat the Blues concert to benefit the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee (MHAMT) on Monday, April 19 at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Gill will be joined by yet-to-be-announced guest performers, and the show will be hosted by SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell. Tickets start at $29.50 and go on sale Friday, February 12 at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster outlets and the Ryman box office.


Rascal Flatts, Kellie Pickler, Jason Michael Carroll, Keith Anderson, Little Big Town and special guests will perform at the 3rd annual Gift of Music concert Monday, February 22, 7:00 p.m., at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon. All proceeds will benefit the W.O. Smith Music School which has been providing 50 cent music lessons to Nashville’s underserved children for 25 years. Reserved seats and general admission tickets sold out in 20 minutes but VIP tickets are still available. The $500 VIP admission includes prime seating, dinner, valet and a chance to win autographed memorabilia. They can be purchased by calling 615-371-8878.


The 3rd Annual Jeffrey Steele & Friends benefit concert and dinner is set for Thursday, March 11 at Rocketown in Nashville. The event benefits the Alex LeVasseur Fund (of the Community Foundation of Middle Tenessee) and its programs that help underprivileged and at-risk youth by motivating them in school and life. Artists slated to perform at this year’s event will be announced on as well as at


Clay Walker is headlining his Chords of Hope MS Benefit Concert on Tuesday, February 23 at the Wildhorse Saloon. Also on the schedule are SHeDAISY, Lee Brice and Chuck Wicks. Tickets are available through the Wildhorse Saloon, starting at $10. All proceeds from the concert will go toward multiple sclerosis research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. For ticket information, please visit or call (615) 902-8211.