I was the only one who attended church this morning, so my surprise for Buds was unknown by the family until I returned home, but our church family loved it.
Just a typical afternoon in our casa.
Buster settled in by Buds.
Then this happened:
Buster sat up and said, “I can’t hear any neurons firing.”
He stood up, walked over to look at the clock on the stove and said to me, “Time of death 1:28 p.m.”
And then he and I dissolved into laughter while Buds looked up from his writing, confused.
Our singer-songwriters last night were.
Jeff got into it before we started to take notes, so I can’t recall what he started with.
(Jamie) Mississippi Flood
This song was featured on the TV show Nashville. Here’s Hayden Panettiere singing it. In the show’s world this song charted at #1 so Jamie was pretty happy with her “fake news” #1 hit. Jamie has a bluesy intensity that I prefer to the show’s pop-country version.
Rolling, rollicky, sexy wordplay.
(Victoria) The Wheel
One of Ginnie’s favorites. A meditation on motherhood.
Jamie had been progressively pulled in to a not yet released movie project staring Burt Reynolds and Chevy Chase. She wound up writing 18 songs and basically creating the entire movie soundtrack.
(Brian) Beach song
This was a fun audience participation song. Brian channels more than a bit of Jimmy Buffet and starts started by asking the audience “Do you ever wish your life was like a Corona commercial?” Well, yeah!! was the response. I can’t find this one but it was a fun, friendly time.
(Victoria) Saints and angels
One of many songs this night that was overtly religious.
(Jeff) Take me away, take me now
One of Jeff’s many songs that’s popular in the UK.
(Jamie) People you know became people you knew
A real soul-crusher by Jamie. She told a story of co-writing (with Loreena Mckennitt?) and unveiling this song to some wet cheeks.
(Brian) Watching You
This was a hit that got a lot of plays. Rodney Atkins recorded it and just try to get over the fact that he looks like Ernest Goes to Camp. We preferred Brian’s fun version.
(Victoria) Drinking too much, not praying enough
This one hasn’t been picked up and that had all the songwriters puzzled as to why. It’s about the age-old intersection between Jack Daniels and Jesus. I can’t find it so will stub in this one.
This caught my eye.
Songwriters aren’t often contacted at all by the artists who record their songs, let alone included in the process, but Stephanie very kindly invited both Rachel and me to be in the music video. Unfortunately I was out on tour at the time, but click to watch it below and you’ll see some great footage of Rachel and her daughter Olivia right at the beginning!
(Jeff) In her eyes
This one was popularized by Josh Groban. I prefer Jeff’s soulful treatment much, much, much more than this glitterbomb.
Lost the thread on this one, my only notes are “get new off your mind” which surely can’t be right.
(Brian) Magic in the air
A beach-y love song from Brian about a love that just misses.
(Victoria) Being a woman ain’t for the faint of heart
This was a co-writing project with Sister C. Victoria shared how it’s hard as a female songwriter when the vast majority of the current country music sound is male voices.
Another song that’s seen popularity in the UK
(Jamie) The Blade
A lyrically strong song that’s seen some popularity. Here’s
(Brian) Throwing up a Hail Mary
A song Brian wrote for a young cancer patient. This song reflects Brian’s Christian faith, right at that intersection of football and faith in this case.
(Victoria) Ordinary angels
A perfect close by Victoria given Alive Hospice’s mission. This video flips the script.
This is what it’s like to be a songwriter hearing your song performed for the first time. Phil Barton and Victoria Banks watch Tate Stevens sing “Ordinary Angels” at the Key West Songwriters Festival.
We were celebrating the 24th anniversary of the day we met. When the opportunity for tickets to The Bluebird dropped into my lap, I knew it was the perfect surprise for Buds, and it promised to be a heck of a night for both of us.
From the website: “The Bluebird Cafe is one of the world’s preeminent listening rooms and the venue has gained worldwide recognition as a songwriter’s performance space where the “heroes behind the hits” perform their own songs; songs that have been recorded by chart-topping artists in all genres of music.”
We had certainly heard of The Bluebird, but tickets are incredibly difficult to get, so we have never gone. Not knowing what to expect, we asked a couple friends about the food, what to wear, how the line at the door worked, but our most critical insight came from our favorite contractor Weston.
Weston came over on Saturday morning to discuss the basement project, so we plumbed his musical knowledge. Weston had been a touring musician and song-writer, so we knew he had probably been to The Bluebird. He told us about the food, what the seating would be like, the expectations (People go to the Bluebird to listen!).
Then I asked him, “Have you played at The Bluebird?”
“Oh, sure, several times.” He replied.
“What did that feel like?” I asked.
He thought for a minute.
“I have absolutely played in venues where no one was listening, and as a musician it tears a little bit of your heart out. So to play at The Bluebird, where people are truly listening, it gives a songwriter pieces of their soul back.”
That sentiment was echoed by Jeff Cohen, the song-writer spokesperson on Saturday night.
“What the Ryman is to musicians, The Bluebird is to songwriters.”
Last night felt a little like being on hallowed ground.
It was just getting dark when we arrived and there were two lines waiting at the door. One to the left and one to the right.
As you can see, the exterior is not imposing. It’s tiny (90 seats) and this doesn’t look like a location where magic would happen.
The line to the left is for folks with reservations, and we spent a pleasant hour in line visiting with Cathy and Mike who were right in front of us in line.
Yes, even if you have reservations you get there an hour early because you don’t want to risk your seat going to someone standing in the line to the right. Those poor saps are hoping to get any seat for either the early or the late show.
After we were allowed in (They let you in the door by pairings.) we gave our name, and they showed us to our seat. I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t choose to sit with Cathy and Mike since we had been having such a great visit with them, but when I realized where we were sitting, my disappointment disappeared.
We were actually a little shocked. Weston had told us that the venue was small, but it was still surprising, plus the musicians were obviously going to be sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME!
The video above shows the space and also shows me over talking with Mike and Cathy, exchanging contact info. They had great seats, too.
We enjoyed visiting and reminiscing while we waited for the show to begin. We ordered food, but as friends had told us, people don’t go to The Bluebird for the food.
The evening began with a message from Anna-Gene, the Alive CEO. She’s a wonderful speaker and leader, and the way she shared Alive’s mission and the power of the work we do was heartwarming.
The evening was part of the month-long series to benefit Alive Hospice, and Jeff Cohen shared a powerful story of his first experience with Hospice care when his grandfather was dying.
Jeff had been asked to put together last night’s early show (6:30 p.m.) and he reached out to an assortment of his songwriter friends.
Being so close allowed us to both hear the music perfectly, as well as hear the interactions between the songwriters, and gave me the chance to be entranced by the hands of the musicians as they played. I’ve been learning to play the guitar, and to watch the easy flow of sound coming from these talented folks and the speed of the fingerings. I was in awe.
These were song-writers. They thought of themselves as technicians rather than (capital-A!) Artists or (capital P!) Performers–a kind of person that they worked closely with. They were trying to find a way to sell this or that song to an audience of one (the Performer) who would then introduce their work to an audience of millions. The songs they played were a mix of songs that had already taken wing and the unhatched eggs. They were collegial and supportive of each other. Laughing, joking, beating their guitars in rhythm when another was singing and joining in light harmony on choruses. And shaking their heads in mournful appreciation; “I just don’t get why an Artist hasn’t picked that one up.”
Andrea Young made a surprise appearance and that was a thrill for the other performers as well as the audience. With no preparation she would listen to the songwriter begin to play, assess the key and tone of the song then jump in with her fiddle to add extra ambience. It added so much warmth to some heartbreaking songs.
We left with a sense of quiet awe and inspiration from rubbing shoulders with these hard-working, hopeful, talented, soulful folks.