The Tin Pan South early show at The Listening Room Cafe, Thursday night (April 5th), spotlighted a couple of songwriters with mega hits under their writing belts. It’s always fascinating to hear their versions of the familiar songs done in an acoustic setting, which is generally what the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival is all about in the first place.

The show belonged to performing rights organization SESAC writers Rob Hatch, Steve Bogard and the trio Restless Road. Hatch served as emcee and led off with the hit he co-wrote for Randy Houser, “Goodnight Kiss.” While he didn’t display the vocal range of Houser (and few singers can match him, anyway), Hatch turned in a passionate performance. Later in his set, Hatch sang “Songs in the Kitchen,” a tune slated to appear on Lee Brice’s forthcoming new album.

Any aspiring writers in the audience would certainly have taken encouragement from Hatch’s story behind one of his best-loved hits. “This song sat around for seven years,” Hatch recalled, before Justin Moore showed up.” Hatch then lit into the poignant, “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,” a No. 1 single for Moore.

When you’re talking “hit songwriter,” the term easily applies to Steve Bogard. The veteran songsmith has written hits in every decade since the 1980’s, an incredible feat given the fickle nature of the country charts and changing generational tastes. Bogard kicked off his round with the popular George Strait No. 1 single, “Carried Away.” During the round robin format, employed by most (if not all) of the Tin Pan South shows, Bogard showed his composing versatility with the romantic “A Woman Loves,” a Top 10 for Steve Wariner, and the ultra sexy “Seein’ Red,” which Dustin Lynch took to the top in 2017.

The trio Restless Road proved a new act to contend with as the members not only write, but sing with clear-cut harmonies. Their performances included “Sip Away,” apparently inspired by a slogan at a Sonic restaurant, and a cleverly-written “One Step Ahead.”

The show also brought out several heavy hitters for guest slots. Rebecca Lynn Howard belted out “Lipstick,” her hit for the all-female band Runaway June, Rising star Jimmie Allen took the stage to perform his current radio single “Best Shot,” singing the final line a cappella, while songwriter Justin Wilson gave a fiery rendition of Houser’s “We Went,” which he co-wrote.

Overall, a hit-packed and entertaining evening.