Tin Pan South 2016 took Nashville by storm last week. Sports & Entertainment Nashville was all over Music City, covering as many of the amazing shows as possible. From legendary songwriters to promising up and comers, here are just a few of the many highlights to come out of Tin Pan South.
Bill Anderson, Bobby Bare, Buddy Cannon and Barry Dean – Bluebird Café: CMA Songwriters Series Honors the 50th Anniversary of the CMA Awards
What better way to kickoff Tin Pan South than with a round at the historic Bluebird Café with revered songwriters such as these? Just some of the songs we heard from these hitmakers include George Strait’s “Give it Away” (Bill Anderson, Buddy Cannon), Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” (Barry Dean), “500 Miles Away From Home” (Bobby Bare) and so many more. One of the best highlights of the night came when Anderson told the hilarious story about a car ride with Cannon, who asked him what he thought the worst country song was. When Anderson couldn’t think of one, Cannon began to rant about a silly song called “Peel me a Nanner” and how anyone could write such a song. The funny part? Anderson was the mastermind behind the hit, much to Cannon’s shock. Anderson then launched into a spirited rendition of the humorous song, with not only Cannon joining in on the chorus, but the entire crowd at the Bluebird singing and laughing along too.
A particularly poignant moment in the evening came in the form of Dean’s performance of the moving “Moving Oleta,” a song he wrote about his grandfather’s undying admiration for his grandmother and how he felt as much love for her the day they met as when they sadly had to move her to a nursing home, which was the “hardest thing he’d done.” I’m not sure if there was a dry eye in the house at the end of this Reba McEntire cut, making it another memorable part of the showcase. And let’s not forget about Bare, who brought the soul to each tune he sang, especially on the powerful “How I Got to Memphis” that he used to close out the phenomenal show.
Tom Johnston, Lara Johnston, Paul Overstreet, John Cowan and Pat Flynn – The Country
Highlights were when Tom Johnston broke out a little song titled “Listen to the Music,” that is best known as being performed by The Doobie Brothers, which makes perfect sense considering he is best known as one of the founders of the group. But that wasn’t the end of the Johnston highlights of the evening. The final was an incredible dive-in version of “Long Train Runnin’” wherein the entire audience sang along with Johnston and the rest of the voices on the stage…ending with the second standing ovation of the evening, the first having been following “Listen to the Music.”
Johnston’s daughter, Lara Johnston, was an equally uber surprise when she opened her mouth to sing. Her sassy song titled ”Pity Party” went over extremely well with the listeners as did her amazing, sultry vocals. And may we add here, this girl can sing on pitch without any aid of auto-tune 😉 And her range is equally impressive as she demonstrated in a ballad performance. This girl is NOT just another pretty face. The girl has CHOPS!
Another incredible highlight was the phenomenal guitar-stylings of Pat Flynn, a former member of New Grass Revival, as was fellow writer and performer John Cowan – also a part of the night’s incredible sound. Cowan needed no introduction, as the minute he opens his mouth you recognize that voice. The “newgrass” sound was a whole new brand of music that had been created by Cowan and the group. But alas, Cowan’s story doesn’t end there. As a matter of fact, it seems to have no end at all. He is highly sought after as one of Nashville’s finest bass players and has played on albums for everyone from Glen Campbell and Garth Brooks to Darius Rucker and The Doobie Brothers (of course) and the list goes on.
But, be still my heart – Paul Overstreet still has it. He is one of the most prolific songwriters to hit country music and still has the humor and gift-at-heart you would expect of such a soul. And his own versions of songs like “When You Say Nothing At All” and “Some Beach,” left the songwriter-loving audience wanting more. And of course, they got it! As his last song, Overstreet started into “Forever and Ever Amen” then quickly shifted the style of it into bluegrass – asking his fellow stage stars to participate in the on-the-fly-up tempo version. And once again, it was Flynn on the scene with his outstanding guitar playing filling up the air and wowing the audience. Overstreet however, was not overshadowed. It was just an incredibly joyous evening that left every audience member with lots to talk about for weeks, months – or perhaps even years to come.
Matraca Berg, Brent Cobb, Andrew Combs, Waylon Payne – The Country
This was a particularly unique show. A strong blend of country, Americana, and even a dash of soul, each of these talented writers brought something special to the table. Though each of Andrew Combs’ songs brought an eclectic vibe, his best performance of the night came in the form of the brand new “Hazel,” an enchanting tune that showcases his raw, soulful voice – especially when he hits a beautiful high note when singing her name, almost putting the listener in a trance.
While Berg shined on every song, a highlight performance was the Deana Carter classic “Strawberry Wine” (a song that Berg surprisingly didn’t want her to release as a single, but is certainly glad she did). Berg’s shining voice brought a touch of soul to the song, along with its warm melody. In addition, Berg and Payne’s piercing rendition of the late Merle Haggard’s “What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana” was particularly moving, rendering enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Cobb energetically closed out the show with the fiery “Stay All Night,” a song he co-wrote and is Little Big Town’s current hit single that they performed recently at the ACM Awards. Cobb’s upbeat performance had the audience grooving along and wishing the title could apply to real life. Overall, it was a truly special evening and one of our favorite shows of the week.
Below is a photo gallery featuring images from additional Tin Pan South shows. Be on the lookout for part two, coming tomorrow!