Archive for the ‘On the Road with Robyn’ Category
April 2-6, 2013
21st Annual Tin Pan South Songwriting Festival
Presented by NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International), Tin Pan South is the world’s largest all-songwriter festival, featuring over 350 songwriters, 85 shows, 10 venues, and 9000 fans. Here are a few of my highlights.
I had the honor of seeing GRAMMY-Winning songwriter Vince Gill (Go Rest High on That Mountain, When I Call Your Name) as the special guest in a round at The Station Inn Thursday night, along with Leslie Satcher (Troubador, When God Fearin’ Women Get the Blues, Tough), Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers and Bobby Tomberlin (One More Day, Good Day to Run). I was the last person to get in, and grabbed the last seat. Vince Gill was the first person to walk on stage. I thought he might just sing one song, but he stayed for the entire 2-hour round. This intimate show was my favorite night at The Station Inn to date.
Amy Grant (Baby Baby, I Will Remember You) graced The Listening Room Saturday night early show along with Ben Glover, the 2012 NSAI Songwriter of the Year. We were fortunate enough to stay for the late show which featured Tom Douglas (Run To You – Lady Antebellum, House that Built Me – Miranda Lambert), Tony Lane (Run - George Strait, Little Past Little Rock – Lee Ann Womack), James Slater (In My Daughter’s Eyes – Martina McBride, The High Cost of Living – Jamey Johnson, Unstoppable - Rascal Flatts, Vancouver Winter Olympics), and special guests Kara DioGuardi (Sober - Pink, Walk Away – Kelly Clarkson, and American Idol judge, Seasons 8 & 9) and up and coming Texas trio Mockingbird Sun.
I was fortunate to end up at some of the most high-profile shows of the week, and am re-inspired as a writer to start playing out more often in Nashville! In the meantime I will probably reserve my Tin Pan South Fast Access Pass well in advance for 2014! Just one more reason I love Nashville!
Thursday, February 21st, 2013
I had the privilege of entering the Bootleggers Bluegrass Band contest last week down on Broadway in Nashville. Some of you know that I performed regularly with my bluegrass/country band “Monroe Station” in Naples, Florida. Since I’ve moved up to Nashville two years ago I haven’t done a lot of performing, so this was a big step for me! I was grateful that some of the local players (Matt Raum, Kyle Tuttle and Whitney Campell) agreed to play with me at Bootleggers, and we put together a short set for the contest. Our set list included Eight More Miles (Laurie Lewis), If Wishes Were Horses (Claire Lynch), Red Clay Halo (Gillian Welch), and When I Lay My Burdens Down (traditional).
The contest was judged only by a meter that registered applause and crowd feedback. There were over 10 bands that competed that night and we received the highest applause rating in 8 weeks! We ended up winning the contest that night and will compete this Thursday in the finals for a chance to win $1000!
And I (of course) was playing my Martin GPCPA4 from My Favorite Guitars!
I was grateful to have a very receptive and supportive crowd, and can’t wait to do it again this Thursday!
Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
The Station Inn Nashville, Tennessee
I had the privilege of attending the Doc Watson Tribute at The Station Inn February 12th.
Check out these amazing players! Featuring Byron House on bass, Luke Bulla on fiddle, Bryan Sutton on guitar and vocals, David Grier on guitar, Bryan McDowell on mandolin, and Buddy Greene on harmonica and vocals.
On the Set of The Joey+Rory Show: Jerry Salley and Carl Jackson
Thursday, October 18th, 2012
Acoustic country duo Joey and Rory, discovered on CMT’s Can You Duet in 2008, have their own TV show! And I had the honor of visiting the set, filmed entirely on the grounds of their 1870s Pottsville, Tennessee farmhouse, last Thursday. GRAMMY-Award winning songwriters Jerry Salley and Carl Jackson are scheduled to be featured on RFD-TV’s next Joey + Rory season, and I was privileged to be a part of the filming process. Salley and Jackson each performed original tunes, and will “tell their story” for the TV show’s interview segment.
I originally met Jerry Salley when he performed at The Norris Center in Naples a few years back, and will never forget the moment I heard his song “Paper and Pen” for the first time. Coming full circle, Salley performed “Paper and Pen” on the set. Carl Jackson and I met at IBMA a few years ago, and after his performance Thursday I was inspired to write a few new songs on the way back to Nashville. Jackson’s 1957 Martin brought his “In His Hands” song to life on the set, emanating a warmth that only a seasoned musician with a beautiful vintage instrument can provide.
Joey + Rory are excited to share great songwriters with their TV audience, along with reminders of a simpler life, and good ol’ fashioned country living.
Visit The Joey + Rory Show online at http://www.thejoeyandroryshow.com, or watch Friday nights on RFD-TV.
Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott
Station Inn, Nashville, Tennessee
October 9th, 2012
CD Release Party for We’re Usually A Lot Better Than This
I had the great pleasure of seeing two living legends of Americana music perform together earlier this month. Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott are extraordinary musicians on their own, but when together on stage they create music so captivating and harmonies so compelling, you begin to wonder how they have ever been apart. “We are trying a new strategy,” joked O’Brien, regarding the release of their new live album. “We’re not touring together at all.” The duo’s appearance at The Station Inn was one of just a handful this year, making it even more unique.
O’Brien, GRAMMY-winning mandolin player, described as “one of the spearheads of contemporary bluegrass,” is known on the festival circuit for his earlier groundbreaking work with Hot Rize and later work as a solo artist. Scott, a GRAMMY-nominated performer, is best known for his aggressive guitar playing, rough and honest vocal style and success as one of the best country songwriters of his time. Between the two of them, they have written major hits for Garth Brooks, The Dixie Chicks, Keb Mo, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Guy Clark, and Sam Bush. Both are multi-instrumentalists, masters of mandolin, guitar, banjo, and bouzouki.
We’re Usually A Lot Better Than This, released the day of the Nashville show, is a live album recorded at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, North Carolina. The songs were recorded during two benefit concerts in 2005 and 2006 for their children’s school. O’Brien and Scott brought most of the songs on the album to life at The Station Inn, including a chilling a capella version of Hank Williams’ “House of Gold,” the traditional song “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning,” originally recorded by blues artist Blind Willie Johnson (1928), and Scott’s rendition of Keith Whitley’s “You Don’t Have to Move That Mountain.”
The two highlights of the night for me were O’Brien’s originals “More Love” (the opening song of the set) and “Walk Beside Me,” actually both recorded on the previous O’Brien/Scott album, Real Time. Scott’s “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” medley finale had all of us on our feet for the first of two standing ovations.
By that point, I was happy to stand up, as I realized I hadn’t moved from my chair once during the 3-hour performance that seemed like 15 minutes. I quickly posted on Facebook: “This is one of the best live shows I have ever seen. I don’t want it to end.” And I secretly hoped that somehow I could stay at The Station Inn all night, maybe all week, being transported by Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott’s timeless musical magic.
The thing is that it’s not like they are performing. They are opening a window into a whole different world, where time does not exist, tradition and innovation unite, and our history, our ancestors live forever. What I heard (and felt) was their insatiable passion for music that has defied tobacco farming, the rural hardships of West Virginia, the challenges of raising a family, the responsibilities of being a husband, the loss of parents and the despondence of a life on the road, away from the home that they love. Their music is a passion and a calling that spans generations, reaching through our walls and barriers to remind us that at anytime, we too, can return home.
I can’t imagine that they are ever “Usually A Lot Better Than This.” I do highly recommend picking up BOTH of their recent albums: Real Time and We’re Usually A Lot Better Than This.
May 14, 2012
Well, it’s been two weeks since I returned home from my first MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. I think I’m still trying to sort through the memories of the weekend, and catch up on my sleep! I thought I would share a few highlights…
So…MerleFest is huge. Attendance the last few years has been around 80,000 people! And I think I counted most of them Saturday morning when I was working the perimeter security volunteer shift. I felt a little bit like I was at “Bluegrass Disney,” with the shuttles to Lot C, long lines, checking backpacks at the gate, buying MerleFest hats in the MerleFest mall, bounce houses for the kids, $220 reserved lawn chairs, and Alison Krauss on the big screen. The music was truly magical, however.
2012 was the 25th Anniversary of MerleFest. Our good friend Jack Lawrence helped commemorate this event by performing in several tributes to the Festival’s hero, Merle Watson, whose life was taken by a tragic accident in 1985. Jack was joined by several others on stage, including Merle’s legendary father – Doc Watson.
The MerleFest website explains: “As a testament to Merle’s popularity and musical accomplishments, one of the world’s most renowned gatherings of acoustic musicians began two and a half years after Merle’s death and continues today, 24 years later, to honor the memory of a great talent silenced too early.” – www.merlefest.org
The Claire Lynch Band stole the show on Friday at the Creekside Stage, and again Saturday on the main stage, with their debut of new fiddle player Bryan McDowell, who just recently at the age of 20 earned an unprecedented triple win on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar at Winfield, Kansas. Chris Thile wowed the traditional bluegrassers with his Zappa-esque sound, lively stage antics, and solid backing by The Punch Brothers. I truly believe that it won’t be long before Thile is considered one of the great musical legends of our time. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi fought the 45-degree temperatures Saturday night to entertain an unsuspecting Americana audience. The bluegrassers seemed to groove with the blues, however, and Truck’s horn and rhythm section captivated the midnight jam ticket holders later that night.
I was happy to see Shannon Slaughter, of Shannon and Heather Slaughter & County Clare (and formerly Lonesome River Band fame), win the 2012 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest for his country tune “I’ve Hit Everything In My Life (But My Knees).” Sierra Hull and her new guitar player Jake Stargel rocked the Cabin Stage Saturday with Highway 111 – showcasing one of the best high-energy line-ups of her career to date.
With Vince Gill opening on Thursday, and Alison Krauss closing the show on Sunday, MerleFest 2012 was truly a place where all of your musical dreams could come true. I’m looking forward to next year. I think I will save up for a hotel reservation and backstage pass…and, maybe, if I’m not as star struck…will make a point to get my own guitar out of the case and jam!
Sunday Crowds at MerleFest
MerleFest Stage – Claire Lynch Band Sound Check
Claire Lynch Band on the Watson Stage, Saturday
Sierra Hull debuts her new guitar player, Jake Stargel
Guitar Legend Tony Rice with Josh Williams and CLB’s
Mark Schatz (bass) and Bryan McDowell (fiddle)
I loved spending the weekend with my good friends
from Naples – Micki and Roli Scholl! I hope 2012 is the
first of many MerleFest memories.
December 11, 2011
I had the honor of singing on stage with Claire Lynch and Matt Wingate last Sunday – December 11th, as part of Eddie and Martha Adcock’s annual Homeless Christmas Benefit Concert.
Originally when Claire mentioned the idea, I thought for sure she must have been drinking too much egg nog, but in fact, her offer was sincere. She asked me what I wanted to sing, and I decided I better choose something that I can do in my sleep, frontwards and backwards, because more than likely my nerves would be going a little crazy at The Station Inn! So…I decided on Red Clay Hal0 (which everyone in Naples has heard me sing 8 million times). She said that was fine, but needed to check with Valerie Smith, because Red Clay Halo is one of her signature songs and Valerie would be singing that night. Well, of course Valerie was going to sing it. Valerie said it would be ok for me to sing it too, but I thought that might be a little strange. Sooo…I needed to pick another one I knew well. “How about Green Pastures?” Claire liked the idea, and we settled on that.
Rehearsal was scheduled for Saturday – the night before the show. We started singing it in “A,” which is always where I sing Green Pastures, and Claire said “You’re singing the harmony! That’s not the melody!” I was completely in shock and disbelief. “But I learned this song by watching Emmylou Harris sing it. That’s how she does it.” “Well – Emmylou sings the harmony part, and we need the melody.” Wow. In retrospect, I was really glad Claire set things straight, because I now sing the “correct” version of the song. However, I did have to basically re-learn the song that night and the next day before the performance!
Everything went really well on stage. And everyone assured me I did NOT in fact look like a deer in the headlights, which is encouraging. We did arrange the song so that I sang the harmony part on the chorus, which turned out to create a really nice blend. I loved singing with Claire and Matt. What an honor.
It was the best Christmas present of the year – to have this amazing opportunity, and to be a part of a benefit show for the Homeless in Nashville.
I hope your Holidays are bright, and filled with music!
P.S. Note to self: practice singing daily so that when your heroes ask you to sing on stage with them you do not opt to leave the country.
September 30, 2011
Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers won Entertainer of the Year at the IBMA Awards Show last night. In between jokes about this being “all about him,” Mr. Martin made it very clear that he was honored by the award, and was there to promote the music – helping people who wouldn’t normally have an interest in bluegrass to appreciate and understand this American tradition.
The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards are the most prestigious in the industry. Held at the Ryman Auditorium, Sam Bush hosted the star-studded evening, filled with triple fiddles, heartfelt acceptance speeches, and thousands of fans (thanks to Sirius XM and others). The Boxcars made quite an impression, taking home “Emerging Artist of the Year,” Banjo Player of the Year (Ron Stewart – tied with Kristin Scott Benson), Mandolin Player of the Year (Adam Steffey), and more.
The Grascals featured two young girls from local children’s hospitals in their moving hit “I Am Strong” (with Dolly Parton), but Balsam Range surprised the audience with their win for Song of the Year – “Trains I Missed.”
Del McCoury, surrounded by Del Jr. and his entire family on stage, and the innovative George Shuffler were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Katy Daley of WAMU won Broadcaster of the Year, and my friends Greg Cahill and Roland White were among the Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients.
I was happy to see that although they are fairly new to the IBMA world, The Gibson Brothers won Album of the Year for “Help My Brother,” engineered by Ben Surratt, AND Vocal Group of the Year. Very deserving in my opinion!
Overall, it was an evening rich in tradition, and full of salutes to the mandolin player who put bluegrass on the map – Bill Monroe. All of the artists seemed to point back to Monroe in one way or another, which was fitting as this month he would have celebrated his 100th birthday.
Even the most successful stand-up comedian and one of the most affluent Hollywood stars of all time, Steve Martin, “gets” the fact that bluegrass is music of the people – passed along in festivals and BBQs and backyards across the country – and somehow makes us all equal. “We never denigrate the music,” Martin said during his acceptance speech. “People who come to see me – well, you know what I mean – leave with a real love for bluegrass music.”
For a full list of IBMA Award Winners, and a schedule for Fan Fest this weekend, including Alison Krauss, The Isaacs, and more, visit www.ibma.org.
IBMA is held in Nashville, Tennessee.
July 21-23, 2011
I had a blast at my first NAMM show! I really enjoyed meeting Chris Martin of Martin Guitars, and loved being surrounded by instruments of every kind. Check out our Facebook page for all the photos and details (My Favorite Guitars). Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook if you haven’t yet!
Here I am with Chris Martin, and the 2011 Summer NAMM Show Special – Tasmanian Blackwood – beautiful!
Friday, July 8th, 2011
I was captivated by Shawn Camp at the Station Inn. I have heard his name several times, but didn’t realize why. Shawn Camp should be a household name. He was like a machine – hammering out hit after hit – with unstoppable, contagious energy. Backed by the talented and upbeat “18 South” band, Shawn delivered moving renditions of his own songs that have been recorded by huge stars in country music – including “Will You Go With Me” (Josh Turner), “Don’t Go Lovin On Nobody But Me (Blake Shelton), and “Two Pina Coladas” (Garth Brooks).
My personal favorite was “Grandpa,” which we used to perform in our band, Monroe Station, with Dave Estes. And his version of “Magnolia Wind” was the best I’ve seen. I believe he co-wrote the tune with Guy Clark.
I love to see the Station Inn come alive, and it certainly did that night – especially with Jimmy Wallace on keys, Chris Henry on the mandolin, Larry Atamanuik on drums and Guthrie Trapp on electric guitar. The only other times I have loved the Station Inn more were my very first times there – as a “NashCamper.”
At the end of the night, Shawn grabbed his fiddle and demonstrated why the Osborne Brothers hired him as their fiddle player at the age of 20. If you perceive any walls between singer-songwriters, bluegrass, and country music, Shawn Camp will tear them down for you. I am so inspired.
Check out Shawn Camp at www.shawncamp.com.
Be sure to order his new album, “1994″ online, and well…everything else he has recorded.
Follow 18 South on Facebook.