On A High Note

Gary Allan Headlines Country Throwdown Tour at Fontanel

Gary Allan

If you look around Nashville for things to do, you never have to look too far – even if you’re looking for something BIG to do. Take for instance the “Country Throwdown” tour that aired itself out at Fontanel yesterday in Whites Creek, TN – just minutes out of downtown Nashville. Well, perhaps “aired-out” is an over statement – it was more like “sweated out!” Still, neither the fans nor the artists seemed to complain!

The fans stayed in the 100-degree heat, anxiously awaiting each artist’s performance.

Gary Allan

Gary Allan

There were fabulous artists who began the show – from Maggie Rose, who hails from my home state of Maryland, to and the Florida/Georgia Line boys. The great performances continued with songwriter Eric Paslay, who wrote the hit song “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” by the Eli Young band. The fan’s dedication continued all the way through to the time when Gary Allan hit the main stage. Of course, there was the small matter of the 5 o’clock intrusion of lightning, which stopped the show for a bit, but, like always, “the show must go on.” …And it did.

Nashville’s “in the round” format goes on tour

This particular tour was presented in a unique fashion and quite different from the typical country music concert. It was instead presented in the classic Nashville style of performing “in the round.” This style of performing has long been popular here in Nashville venues and made famous at places like the Bluebird Café. If you’ve ever attended shows at such places as the Bluebird Café, you would have felt quite familiar with the more intimate, “coffee-house” style of performance that was the hallmark of the “Country Throwdown” shows this weekend.

The “Bluebird Café” Stage hosted writers for the day yesterday, featuring Channing Wilson, Rose Falcon and Carly Pearce, and a new group called “Mama’s Blue Dress” – four charming women who have only been performing together for six months now.

Mam's Blue Dress

Mam’s Blue Dress

Three of the four gals – Nicole Witt, Elizabeth Elkins, and Vanessa Olivarez – met during a songwriter’s event. They were later joined by Bethany Dick-Olds during a songwriting session when the group magically formed. The foursome say that for now they are just enjoying their time together and “seeing what happens,” but you might want to keep an eye out for them in the near future!

Sports & Entertainment Nashville also had the chance to speak with Eric Paslay, who says he ended up on the “Country Throwdown” tour this year, after having to miss it last year – when Willie Nelson was on the tour.

Eric Paslay

Eric Paslay

“I hated I had to miss that one because I love Willie Nelson, but I’m really happy to be here this year and to play for everybody; it’s been a great experience.” Paslay, a native of Texas, has a great sense of “heart” when it comes to music, and it was a refreshing change. His intelligence, warmth and strength of character also add greatness to his music. The song he penned for the Eli Young Band, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” has been described as “an anthem for Nashville’s music community.” And if you’re a songwriter or an artist looking to make your way in, you are probably in agreement.

Jonathan Singleton’s performance was scheduled to begin earlier in the day, but it was postponed until late in the evening due to the weather. Nevertheless, the audience still got to hear Singleton on the main stage, just prior to Gary Allan’s appearance. The audience cheered when Singleton belted out his popular hit, “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” that he co-wrote with Jim Beavers and Darrell Brown. This smash hit for Josh Turner topped the Billboard charts in 2010.

Channing Wilson was also a surprise, getting great response both during the day at the Bluebird Café stage and on the main stage later in the evening. Carly Pearce and Rose Falcon also performed in the round with Wilson , with Falcon playing the role of emcee for the group. Both Falcon and Pearce are viable artists in their own right, and there isn’t a soul alive – especially a soul of the male persuasion! – who doesn’t like to see a gal play her own guitar. I’m sure the fact that they are both as beautiful as they are talented has nothing to do with their appeal!

Also performing on the tour was Drake White, a captivating singer/songwriter with a unique vibe all his own. You certainly wouldn’t mistake him for anyone else. Maybe it’s due to his many influences of country, rock, freestyle and bluegrass all meshed together that gives him such a unique flavor.

Sunny Sweeney, famed for her hit “From A Table Away” was first up on the main stage, appearing just after the 7:00 o’clock hour. Sweeney says she really enjoyed making new friends and doing some writing while on the tour, and hopes to finish a song she started with Eric Paslay, as soon as they have the opportunity.

Corey Smith

Corey Smith

Corey Smith was also on the main stage at Fontanel around the 8:00 o’clock hour. He had such a great energy that the audience caught on in no time! If you have the chance to read Smith’s bio – and I urge you to do so – then you’ll find out where he is coming from, where he is and is not willing to go, and what he’s NOT after. In the past five years, Smith has played over 650 shows – and sold over 600,000 tickets – WITHOUT a record deal! He has released six independent albums and sold over 150,000 copies and over 800,000 singles. Again… all without the aid of the “all sought after deal.” Kudos, man!

Gary Allan

Crowd at Country Throwdown at Fontanel

Crowd at Country Throwdown at Fontanel

Then the grand finale…Gary Allan started his set with his hit song “Watching Airplanes,” and the crowd went wild! It is yet another great song penned by Singleton and Beavers. From there, Allan had the audience in his hand…and the rocking was on!

The moral of this story is -if you’ve been looking for something great to do in Nashville, you don’t have to look too far! And if you keep looking at FONTANEL in Whites Creek, TN and you take that short 10-minute drive from downtown Nashville, you may just find yourself enjoying another live concert at this glorious venue.

Soon to come at Fontanel’s Wood’s Amphitheater:
July 28th – Old Crowe Medicine Show
Aug 8th – Train (with special guests Mat Kearney & Andy Grammer)
Aug 18th – Steve Miller Band
For more information on upcoming concerts at Fontanel, visit: http://woodsamphitheater.com/upcoming-events.php