Notes from the Road - Nashville, Tn. Sunday, July 15th I got into Nashville at about 1 pm local time (picked up an hour headed west). I’m staying right at the start of music row on Demonbreun (good luck pronouncing that). I’m going to be here for three days, so I settled in. I went to the Bluebird from 6:30 to 9:00. It’s a really a special place. Sunday was what they call "songwriters' night" which seems redundant since that's what the place is all about. Folks from all over the country (literally - one guy was from Salt Lake City) come to auditions once every couple of months and, if selected, they come back to play on a Sunday songwriters' night (just three songs) sometime in the next 6 to 18 months. If they are well received they can then get booked, maybe, to come back for an afternoon show during the week (4 pm), be in a "songwriters' in the round" night, etc. I walked in at a little after 6 pm - standing room only!! I got lucky and got a single seat back by the sound guy which is always the best spot sound-wise in the room. On a Sunday night for unknown songwriters (not even a list published) the crowd was unbelievable. At precisely 6:30 the lights dimmed slightly and the place went tomb quiet for the "feature" act - a Nashville country writer with his band. They were good, but loud and you couldn't hear the words very well. They were really mostly about the lead guitar, the bass and the drums, the energy which were very good. They played for 45 mins. then there was a break while they cleared out and they got ready for the songwriters. The songwriters play three songs each and I stayed for the first 6. They go until 1 am and I was just too tired. Heard some good material and some interesting styles. I talked to the bartender (who's also a songwriter - imagine that) about the open mic on Monday. He said my chances of getting to play tomorrow night are very slim. They go on a "draw out of the hat" system, so I don't have to be there early. But, because they always have too many show up, if you've been there before and didn't get to play you get priority the next time you show up. So, first timers rarely get to play. We'll see - at least I'll get my "priority" ticket for my next trip through (perhaps on my way to Memphis next February for Folk Alliance). I also dropped by a place close to the hotel here that has a Sunday open mic (The Hall of Fame Lounge), but it was a bit dismal - no one there, smokey bar, some teenager punk rocker types on stage fumbling around like they were lost -- I'd rather get some sleep. So I crashed. I have to admit that being here is energizing (songwriting / music wise). I can imagine make periodic trips here for a couple of days at a time. We’ll see. Monday, July 16th The new CD’s arrived!! Break Some Stones is in hand! The Digipaks look great. ORDER YOURS NOW on my website and I cover the postage. Arrived at the Bluebird Café at about 5:25. I wasn’t worried about getting there early since it’s a lottery drawing anyway. Mistake! The line was incredible, well over a hundred folks. It was hot and by the time I got inside, no seats, no standing room, nada. Sixty-three, that’s 6 freakin’ 3, songwriters showed up to play in a max of 32 to 35 slots on one song each. In the words of the younger generation - Ohmygawd. The only place I could stand out of the way of the waitresses was in front of the door to the restrooms. Apparently that’s not unusual since they have a ceiling mirror angled specifically to allow that area to see the stage! I met, personally, everyone who had to “make water” for about 45 minutes there. I hope they all washed their hands because there was no getting by without touching. So, I didn’t get to play, got my stamp for a guaranteed spot the next time I come and hauled butt. I went over to Lyrix Music Bar & Café’ for another open mic. Lyrix has been around about 14 months and is building a week long live music presence. Tanya the owner, Tammy the bartender and Jack Scott the host of the open mic could not have been nicer - great folks, great location, etc. But, a major difference from the Bluebird is the audience. Lots of folks, but NOT a courteous listening crowd. On Mondays Lyrix have songwriters’ night from 7 to 10 and then an open mic following. This was definitely the type of songwriters night where each songwriter gets as many of his / her friends to attend as possible. These friends drink, talk and laugh throughout everyone’s performance, including the one they came to support, and then leave the minute their friend is off stage (unless, of course, they stand in front of the stage and rudely schmooz with their friend while the next act is trying to present their material. I really like Lyrix in terms of the room, location, staff, etc. But, if they don’t control the crowd and make it a listening room they will never be an alternative to the Bluebird for serious performing songwriters. It may be different on other nights, but Monday was not good. I played my two songs at Lyrix and then headed back to my hotel. While I was in line at the Bluebird someone came up and handed me a flyer for an open mic at The Hall of Fame Lounge (where I stopped by briefly last night, but did not stay) and, since it is literally next door to my hotel I stopped to check it out. As it turned out it was being run by Bob Lever, originally from the St. Pete area and a MySpace friend of mine, and I got on the list as the last player. Very small, but exceptionally attentive and appreciative crowd composed mostly of other writers and industry folks. After it closed down we all sat around the bar and continued to swap tunes for a bit (as well as swapping business cards, etc.) for another hour or so, then back to the hotel. Disappointed, but not surprised, not to get to play at the Bluebird, but all in all a good night. Yawwwwnnnnn . . . . ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Tuesday, July 17th Took a walk this morning from my hotel down Broadway to the river, along the waterfront and back. Great architecture and history here - very interesting just looking around. Got me thinking about a song - “There’s something about this town . . .” I’ve called in and gotten on the list to play the songwriters’ night at Douglas Corner Café tonight. The PR stuff in the city guides say “Douglas Corner Cafe is one of Nashville's most respected venues for live music, 6 nights a week! Established acts, top writers and a wide array of musical styles makes Douglas Corner Café’ a favorite among locals and visitors alike.” We’ll see. [Hours Later] Well, they were right. What a great place! This is a songwriters’ hang out of the best kind. Respectful, attentive and very appreciative audience, great stage, lights and sound and wonderful staff. Met some great folks and made some great contacts. For the pickers / writers among you who might wander through Nashville and want to play this songwriters’ night, a little tip. The website tells you to call a number starting at 2 pm and a message machine takes your name. You play in the order that messages are received. I had already been told that if I didn’t call by 2:10 the line up would be full. I got through at 2:02 and I was 23rd on the list!!! The fella that runs it, Donnie Winters, confided in me that the line actually opens up earlier at around 1:30. So, start dialing early and often. Otherwise, you’ll be towards the end of the evening like me. Nevertheless, many folks stick around for the whole show here. Unlike most open mic type events where each player gets up individually, this one is done “in the round” style. Four writers get up at a time and set up at four separate mics. You then play your songs “round robin.” It was a great format and made things move along a little quicker. Really loved this place and, judging from the response from the folks in charge, there’s a good chance I’ll be coming back for a songwriters’ round, showcase or something similar. Excellent night. Gotta get some sleep and head out to Johnson City tomorrow for my show at the Acoustic Coffeehouse there. It’s about a 4 ½ hour drive so I don’t want to start too late. G’nite!