Welcome back readers! I’m picking up where I left off earlier today, after lunch, a nap, and a hot chocolate at Mike’s Ice Cream on Broadway. You can read about my morning here. Once I was rested up and all caught up on my blogging, I decided to wander around Broadway for awhile and check out some of the shops. I didn’t buy anything, just soaked up the ambiance of the area.
Next, I went back to the hostel (lucky it’s so close to everything!) and got changed for my evening activities. Earlier today I had booked a ticket to see a show at the Listening Room Cafe. I’d never been there before, but it was close to the hostel, the show was free (minus the $7 I was committed to spend on food or liquor), I had nothing else to do, and I had read so many good reviews of the place online that I just had to do it. I have plans to go to two shows at the famous Bluebird Cafe tomorrow, but I figured I may as well experience even more amazing live music.
Before I headed over to my 8 PM show, I took a quick detour to the grocery store to pick up some ziploc bags so that I can pack some snacks for tomorrow’s adventures. During the three-block walk to the grocery store, I made friends with an old black man who had ended up in Nashville after living in New York. He invited me to go for coffee. I declined as I did have a show to get to, but also because I was a little suspicious. Which brings me to my next point.
Everyone in Nashville is just so darn friendly. I always feel a little awkward because they are over-friendly and I question their sincerity. I can never decide if they are actually just that nice or if there is an ulterior motive. Did this old black man actually just want someone to hang out with and have coffee? Is it weird that when a homeless person comes towards me in Nashville, instead of asking me for money, they cheerily say hello and I say hello back? Is it normal for all sorts of random people to start conversations with you in Nashville? Because that happens to me all the time. All I have to do is walk down the street.
Anyways, I declined coffee with the old black man and turned over towards the Listening Room Cafe. It turned out that it was much closer than I had anticipated and I was there within minutes on foot. It also turned out that the earlier show was absolutely packed, so there was no way I could get inside. I headed back to Joe’s Crab Shack, and sat at the bar with a drink and a snack to wait for my entry time.
Not surprisingly, the bartender was insanely friendly (like the rest of this town) and we were old buddies by the time I left.
While I was waiting, I did some research and realized that Lauren Alaina was playing the earlier show at the Listening Room! I had tried for tickets to that show earlier today but it was sold out – I guess now I know why. I’ll add her to the list of celebrities I have nearly seen this trip.
On that note, I should actually make a list so I can keep track.
Celebrities that I know I just missed this trip:
- Steven Tyler at the airport
- Lauren Alaina at the Listening Room Cafe
- Not really a near miss, but I did see/sit next to that one guy at Tootsie’s that I’m sure is famous, but I don’t know who he is
I’m glad I did that. It’s just good to keep track, you know.
Anyways, on to the rest of my adventures. When it was time to head back to the Listening Room, I made my way over there again. This time I was able to get inside the door and check in, but I think I stood there crowded in the entry for around half an hour before I was seated. I didn’t mind too much (I did get to hear the end of Lauren Alaina belting out a great version of “Bang Bang”). But as an event planner, I judge event experiences harshly. You’d think that this venue that runs two shows a day pretty much every day would have figured out how to clear guests from one show to make room for those with later reservations. Or made reservations night-long instead of broken into two separate shows. Or had half of the room night-long, and half of the room per show. All I’m saying is that my check-in and seating experience was frustrating, and I’m pretty sure if I were in charge I could come up with a solution for this. The staff were courteous, and I did get seated eventually so it wasn’t a big deal. I was put about 4 tables back from the stage, but I spied an open table up front after the first couple songs and asked if I could move there, so I enjoyed most of the show from right under the artists’ noses.
Now, this show is the first I have ever been to like this. It was formatted as a songwriters in the round show. I’ll be seeing a couple more of these at the Bluebird tomorrow, but this was my very first one. Basically, it has 4 different artists on stage and they take turns doing one song each. It’s very cool because the style changes every song, and they each get the chance to play their very best. I had heard before that it was common for songwriters that have had tracks cut by very famous artists to play these types of shows, but I had no idea what I was in for when I arrived.
Because it’s difficult to break down a play-by-play due to the fact that the artists took turns performing songs, I’m just going to describe this by artist. Each of them performed original songs and each of them were incredibly enjoyable.
Ben Rue was the first to perform. I fell in love with his music instantly, even though I missed pretty much the entire first song due to not having been seated yet and the kerfuffle that goes along with seating. Regardless, not to already bring in the highest praise, but he was my favourite. He is young and attractive. He can sing, and his songs really spoke to me. They were lyrically complex and beautiful, yet by the second chorus I was usually singing along. One of the later songs he played moved me to tears right then and there. It was a fight to hold it together. I don’t think that song has been released yet, but I can’t get the lyrics out of my head. It was all about how there were “days that hurt and days that burned” but the only ones that actually mattered were the good ones. It was beautiful and I wish I could find a copy online to show you, but it doesn’t seem to be out there. To tide you over, here’s another of Ben’s songs:
I spoke to Ben briefly after the show, and I told him how amazing I think he is. He told me that he has an EP available on iTunes, with a new one coming out this summer! So exciting – I downloaded it immediately upon my return to the hostel.
Anyways, on to songwriter #2. This guy was certainly no slouch! His name was Joel Shewmake. He was able to perform for us a song he wrote on called “Toothbrush”, which was cut by none other than Brad Paisley! He also played a slew of other amazing tracks, most of which I was unsure about whether they had been cut by someone else or not. He had a very different sound from Ben, but you could tell he was a pro. You can see more of his stuff here!
Songwriter #3 was basically a child. Well, he looked like one. And I haven’t looked him up yet so I’m going to assume he is. Ok, so his name is Payton Smith and I just googled him and I can’t actually figure out his age, so let’s all assume he’s a child for two reasons: 1) It was his first songwriter in the round show; and 2) he looks like a child. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the songs that Payton played. It doesn’t seem like he has an album out yet, but I have to say, he sounded great, and his songs were really cute and a little more complex than I would have expected. I can’t find any of his original stuff online, but you can see a couple covers he’s done here:
I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for this kid in the future. Stylistically, he was a lot of fun, and I can only imagine that will develop with time. Also, he’s adorable, so that always helps.
I’m a little starstruck about songwriter #4. He was a big man sitting on the end, so casual in his t-shirt and ball cap. His name was Patrick Jason Matthews. I had no idea who he was before he started to perform, but boy did I recognize some of his tracks. He’s good friends with Luke Bryan and had written on some of his tracks, including “Country Man” and “Drinkin’ Beer and Wastin’ Bullets”. He also wrote “Must Be Doin’ Something Right”, which was recorded by Billy Currington, and “Break Down Here” recorded by both Julie Roberts and Trace Adkins. He performed all of these songs for us, and boy was it cool. It was certainly an honour to see him at this show.
I really appreciated the camaraderie that we saw throughout the show. I’m not sure if that’s how things in this format always go? I guess I will see tomorrow. There were lots of compliments passed around between the artists, and they were all very encouraging of Payton. I really liked the sense of support there, and I hope it’s something that is always apparent.
I was so overwhelmed after the show that I just had to come right back to the hostel to blog about it. That being said, I have a big day tomorrow so it’s probably good to not be out until 2:30 AM anyways.
Anyways, more on live music tomorrow!