Why the Bluebird Café and the Ryman are still going strong

‘Special people’ keep venues special

The Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Café.  Two iconic names that immediately create mental images of what Music City is all about.  Both are at the top of the list for tourists to visit, particularly since the worldwide popularity of the TV drama series, ‘Nashville.’

In fact, many visitors, listening intently to their tour guides, might actually know more about those two venues than those of us who live and work here.  It never hurts to remind ourselves just how important they are to the success of Nashville’s music industry.

In many ways, the story of both venues is really the story of a small number of remarkable people (mainly women, as it happens) whose tenacity, dedication and unwavering belief ensured that both the Ryman and the Bluebird are still thriving today.

The Bluebird put songwriters ‘In the Round’

Inside the Bluebird. Photo: Bluebird Cafe

Originally started as a restaurant in 1982 by founder Amy Kurland, the Bluebird Café had evolved into a 90-seat listening room by 1984, holding regular ‘Writers’ Nights.’  In March 1985, three songwriters, J. Fred Knobloch, Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet, performed the Bluebird’s first ‘In The Round’ show, in which the three writers sat in the center of the room and took turns playing songs and telling the stories behind the songs, while audiences listened quietly and attentively.

The ‘In The Round’ concept was an immediate success and was soon adopted by other venues, but The Bluebird is recognized as the place where it really all started and continues to this day. So many hit writers and recording artists cite the Bluebird as the place where their careers really took off. Among them: Taylor Swift, at the age of fourteen, discovered by Scott Borchetta, and Garth Brooks who, in 1987, filled in for another artist and was spotted by a Capitol Records’ A&R exec and signed to a record deal the very next day.

‘Alive at the Bluebird’ concert series

Photo: The Bluebird Cafe

After 36 years, the Bluebird Café is as popular as ever. It is still the place where songwriters really want to be seen and heard. Baseball great Yogi Berra is credited with saying about a popular restaurant, “Nobody ever goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” And among some Nashvillians, there’s a feeling that the Bluebird has become mainly a tourist destination. But that really is not the case.  Just take a look at the list of upcoming shows at their website, and check out the astonishing list of hit writers scheduled to appear.

The 25th Annual Alive at the Bluebird concert series is currently underway with at least 27 shows running through February 1, 2018 that benefit Alive Hospice. There’s never been a better time to catch a great show and support a really worthwhile cause.

While you’re at their site, it’s a good idea to click on ‘Reservations’ too. That’s where you’ll see the Bluebird’s policy about booking seats. Remember, it’s a small room (the intimate setting and the close proximity to the performers is part of the charm) so have a second or third choice in mind if your first choice is sold out.

The Ryman: 125 years and counting

The Ryman Auditorium dates back to 1892 when it was originally known as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. Now, with around 2,360 seats, it is considerably bigger than the Bluebird, but still one of Nashville’s best venues to see live shows, even in these days of stadium and arena spectaculars.

But, like the Bluebird, the Ryman owes its current existence to a few people who were convinced that it was an essential part of Music City’s heritage. In 1920, Lula C. Naff was hired to manage the space, after working there for several years, booking acts for the Ryman in her spare time. Her tireless dedication kept the venue alive and thriving until her retirement in the 1950s. Since then, the Ryman has had two more female GMs.

“To work here [at the Ryman] you have to be like a crazy, crazy music fan.” – Lisaann Dupont, Director of Communications for Opry Entertainment Group, quoted in an interview at Uproxx.com. You can read the entire story, ‘How Women Shaped the Legacy of Nashville’s Oldest and Most Celebrated Venue, the Ryman Auditorium,’ here.

Saved from demolition

The Ryman. Photo: L.A. Times/Don Bartletti

It’s hard to believe now that, when the Grand Ole Opry moved to its new location at Opryland, the decision was made to demolish the Ryman. Pressure from local preservationists led to the Ryman being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, preventing demolition. But for nearly two decades, it slowly deteriorated as its owners had little interest in it.  Gaylord Entertainment finally carried out repairs to the exterior including the roof.

But the turning point was a recording made in the dilapidated building by Emmylou Harris & the Nash Ramblers. Titled ‘At The Ryman,’ the album won a Grammy for Best Performance by a Duo or Group in 1993. The success prompted Gaylord to invest in extensive renovations. Since then, additional updates have revitalized the Ryman into the great venue it is today.

Both the Bluebird Café and the Ryman Auditorium prove that when even a small number of people believe strongly that a venture is worthwhile and never give up on their objectives, great things can happen. Today, it’s difficult to imagine what Nashville would be like without the Bluebird Café or the Ryman.  They are living proof that people with strong beliefs and perseverance can make things happen.

The Bluebird, the Ryman. Two stops on any visitor’s tour of Nashville. But both great entertainment resources for all of us living in Middle Tennessee who owe a debt of gratitude to those who made them what they are today.

“Inside Track on Music Row” ready to read

Here’s a teaser of the January 2018 edition

The January 2018 version of my monthly column, ‘Inside Track on Music Row,’ is now posted at Nashville Music Guide, complete with some great graphics and photos.

Here are a few few teasers, but click the link above to read the full column of news about songwriters, artists and the country music industry.

Artist News

Brett Young has landed on multiple Billboard Year End charts, as 2017 came to a close, including Top New Artists, the only Country artist to do so. He also landed at No. Two on the Year End Hot Country Songs, Country Digital Songs and Country Streaming Songs charts. ASCAP recognized his “quintessential breakout year,” honoring Young for one of the Most Played Songs of the Year with “Sleep Without You.” Young was named a TicketMaster New Favorite Artist of 2017 and was Shazam’s only Country act included on their Emerging Artists of 2017 list. He also drew prestigious CMA, ACM, Teen Choice Award, CMT Music Awards and AIMP Award nominations. 2018 is already shaping up to be another big year for Young, who is working on new music. He will perform at the College Football Playoff concert in Atlanta January 8 before joining ACM Male Vocalist of the Year Thomas Rhett on his LIFE CHANGES Tour.  More info at brettyoungmusic.com.

Concert News

As the curtain closed on a sold-out show at New York City’s Town Hall in December, multi-PLATINUM singer/songwriter Kip Moore took a bow to 2017, for what can only be described as a benchmark career year. Moore is wrapping up an overwhelming year on multiple “Best Of 2017” lists by Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, UpRoxx, Bobby Bones Show, Taste Of Country, Sounds Like Nashville, The Boot, PopMatters and Whiskey Riff for his revered third studio album SLOWHEART, while reflecting on his 4th career No. One for his single “More Girls Like You,” sold-out headlining shows, national TV appearances and more. 2018 tour dates etc at kipmoore.net.

Label News

Luke & Caroline Bryan. Photo: Getty/Frederick Breedon IV

(Capitol Records) On Christmas, via Instagram, Capitol’s ‘Golden Boy’ Luke Bryan surprised his wife Caroline with two baby kangaroos! Yeah, you read that right, two baby kangaroos. The baby roos are the latest additions to Brett’s Barn, a farm of rescue animals honoring their late niece. Country superstar Bryan took to Instagram to share a video of himself surprising his wife Caroline with the most unexpected Christmas gift ever. In the video clip, Bryan approaches Caroline, who is blindfolded, with the two kangaroos in bags. The family named the babies Todd and Margo after two characters from the iconic Christmas film, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Todd and Margo will join the family of animals living on the Bryan Family property at Brett’s Barn. The barn is Caroline’s passion project and is dedicated to her late niece who passed away at just 7 months old in early 2017. Brett’s Barn is also home to a pig, goats, and miniature horses. Caroline plans to keep adding to Brett’s Farm and I am sure we will be hearing more about it in the Spring.

And there’s a whole lot more!  Check out the entire column online at Nashville Music Guide.

 

Sign the Petition and Ask Congress to Pass the Music Modernization Act

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION

For too long, songwriters have had to work within an outdated system that over-regulates and undervalues their music. The Music Modernization Act of 2017 will help change that.

[Note: the text of this post is reproduced from an email sent out to ASCAP members. You do not have to be an ASCAP member to respond to this request that is supported by all Performing Rights Organizations and other entities involving songwriters and music publishers. You can find the original message here.]

Improved compensation for music creators

ASCAP has long advocated for a more flexible framework that can adapt to the realities of the modern music marketplace. The Music Modernization Act is a bipartisan music reform bill that represents months of compromise and collaboration between stakeholders from the music and tech sectors.

It includes provisions that we hope will ultimately result in compensation for our members that better reflects the true value of your music:

  • Rate court reform: replacing a single rate court judge for each PRO with different judges randomly assigned to each rate-setting proceeding (the “wheel” system)
  • Removal of Section 114(i) of the Copyright Act: allowing a rate court to consider all relevant evidence when determining songwriter compensation – including the rates that recording artists earn – an ability that is currently prohibited by law.

The Music Modernization Act of 2017 also includes provisions to reform Section 115 of the Copyright Act to create a single licensing entity that will administer the mechanical reproduction rights for all digital uses of musical compositions like those used in interactive streaming models. This replaces the “bulk NOI” process that often failed to result in payments to songwriters and music publishers with a system that will enable digital music services to find the owners of the music they use.

While no legislation will solve all of our industry challenges, on balance we believe this is a significant step forward for all music creators.

You can help now. Ask Congress to pass the Music Modernization Act today. Click here to sign ASCAP petition.

If you are a member of BMI or SESAC and have received notification from them about a petition regarding the Music Modernization Act of 2017, you are of course welcome to respond to their communication.

The British are coming!

Why more Brits than ever are on their way to Nashville

Pop quiz: What’s the biggest industry in Music City?  No, it’s not music, it’s healthcare. But ‘Healthcare City’ doesn’t sound half as much fun as Music City, and Nashville’s musical heritage accounts for millions of dollars in tourist revenue.  Much of that revenue comes from foreign visitors and that revenue is set to increase still further. The reason: direct flights to Nashville from London’s Heathrow Airport.

Two recent news stories – one from each side of the Atlantic – look at Nashville from different perspectives. ‘Boom (Chicka-Boom) Town’ by Chris Parton in the January issue of Nashville Lifestyles magazine interviews nine ‘movers and shakers’ in Nashville’s music industry.

Meanwhile, a story in London’s Sunday Times, dated December 31, 2017, tells British readers why they “should join the hoedown in 2018” by flying to Nashville. The article’s author, Rich Hall, should know what he’s talking about. He is an American performer whose comedy and country music show, Rich Hall’s Hoedown, tours the UK from February to June, often adopting the character of Tennessee country musician Otis Lee Crenshaw.

‘More than one style’ of country music

Rich Hall. Photo: David Donaldson

Hall makes a point of mentioning several venues familiar to Nashville residents but probably less so to overseas visitors. He writes that there’s more than one style of country music. “Station Inn is spectacular for bluegrass,” says Hall. “And at 3rd and Lindsley, every Monday night, a 10-piece band called the Time Jumpers takes the stage, featuring Andy Reiss and Vince Gill (guitars), Paul Franklin (steel) and leader Ranger Doug (playing killer rhythm on an old Stromberg). If you’ve never heard western swing music, prepare for a religious conversion.”

Brits are notorious for being bad tippers, as tipping is less expected in Britain. Mentioning several of Lower Broad’s honky tonks, Rich says, “There’s a bucket at the foot of the stage. That’s for tips. Be generous, you tight-fisted British miserlings.”

Thank you, Rich! Let’s hope your readers make a note of that!

‘Behind the Scenes’ in Music City

Back at Nashville Lifestyles’ Music Issue (subtitled ‘Behind the Scenes of Our Signature industry’), the story notes that: “According to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Regional Economic Development Guide, the area’s population has now ballooned to more than 1.8 million people and, in 2016, was joined by 13.9 million visitors.”  Those visitors made an impact of $5.7 billion on the city.

If you are part of the music industry, yours is one of 56,000 jobs that are maintained as a result of music in Nashville, according to Chamber estimates. The magazine article quotes the Music City Music Council’s report that 8,000 jobs are directly involved in music making, with 190+ recording studios in the city. “Nashville is currently home to 10 times more music activity than either Los Angeles or New York,” reports writer Chris Parton in Nashville Lifestyles.

‘Challenges’ for Nashville’s music creators

Bart Herbison. Photo: NSAI

But some of Nashville’s music creators are facing challenges. “Songwriters and publishers have seen a huge payment disparity in the streaming area versus the artists and record labels,” Bart Herbison, Executive director of Nashville Songwriters Association (NSAI) explained to Parton. “On the performance side, [artists and labels] get 88 cents for every 12 cents we get, and, on the sales-royalty side, it’s seven-to-one or greater. So, we’re trying to fix that.” (A note from Preshias: for more information on the Songwriter Equity Act, see an earlier post at NashvilleMusicLine.com.)

Among the other Nashville music execs interviewed for the Nashville Lifestyles story are Kos Weaver, Executive VP of BMG Nashville, Mike Dungan, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, Nashville, and Shannan Hatch, Creative Director of SESAC, and several others. All offer professional insight into Nashville’s music industry and where it is heading.

Rob Beckham. Photo: Music Row Magazine

Rob Beckham, partner at WME/IMG points out that in the past, country acts rarely toured abroad. “But now that international audiences can access the music as easily as domestic audiences, we are seeing an increased demand to bring our acts overseas,” he told Parton.

Which brings us back to the article written by Rich Hall for the Sunday Times in London, England. American-born Hall is a comedian who has become popular in Britain and is frequently featured on BBC TV shows.

“Behind Lower Broadway stands the mecca of country music, the Ryman Auditorium, original home of the Grand Ole Opry. Giants walked here. Stand on the center-stage circle and channel the ghosts of Hank Williams, Chet Atkins and Tammy Wynette. The Opry still broadcasts from there on weekends from November to January. Do not, however, confuse this with Opryland, a Disneyfied tourist hellhole on the outskirts of town, designed to separate rubes from the contents of their wallets.”Rich Hall

In addition to mentioning Nashville’s music venues, Hall recommends Brit visitors sample Nashville hot chicken, country ham, grits, Goo Goo Clusters and hash browns slathered in Cheez Whiz – though not necessarily all on the same plate.

Nashvillians are ‘just genuinely nice’

Hall’s article closes by mentioning that Nashville is exceptional because it is so friendly. In fact, Travel & Leisure magazine named Nashville one of  ‘America’s friendliest cities’. Nashvillians, says Hall, are: “Just genuinely nice. So much of America runs together these days. Nashville stands out.  After a short time here, you start wondering why the rest of the world can’t be this pleasant.”

British Airways’ new direct flights between London and Nashville are scheduled to begin in May 2018, so expect to hear even more Brit accents at this year’s CMA Music Festival, June 7 – 10. You can reach Rich Hall at offthekerb.co.uk/rich-hall

You can read the entire ‘Boom (Chicka-Boom) Town’ article and more about what’s happening in Music City in the January edition of Nashville Lifestyles, now at newsstands or go to www.nashvillelifestyles.com

Preshias Harris is a music journalist and music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Her book, ‘The College of Songology: The Singer/Songwriter’s Need to Know Reference Handbook’ is available at www.collegeofsongology.com Follow her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com

Are these really the best albums of 2017?

When it comes to music, everyone has their own opinion about what is ‘best.’  Below are some links to “Best 2017 Album” lists, plus important news about legislation that will affect songwriters’ income… and a Justin Timberlake video you just gotta see! But we’ll start with an item about a company creating laminates that deliver complete albums, videos and photos to your fans.

Check out these interactive souvenir laminates from iDitty

iDitty laminate for Big & Rich

Artists looking for something that’s both nifty and original might want to check out a neat product from iDitty, a state-of-the art tech company that manufactures digital, interactive souvenir laminates. They offer a customizable, fan-oriented “All-Access” laminate designed to make artist happenings and music accessible in real time at the swipe of a finger.

Since its formation in 2014, award-winning country music entertainers, legends and chart-toppers (Big & Rich, Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Young, Charlie Daniels and Tracy Lawrence), along with some of today’s hottest newcomers (Lee Brice, Justin Moore and Joe Denim) have aligned with iDitty to move full album sales. Collectively, iDitty claims $2.5 million in music sales to date, and Music Row Influentials validate the one-of-a-kind merch item as “the CD replacement.”  For more information, visit iDitty.com or contact Hugh Kirkpatrick here: hughkirkpatrick@comcast.net.

Best albums of 2017

Question: What were the best albums of 2017?  Answer:  Depends on who you ask. You can find Rolling Stone’s ’50 Best Albums of 2017’ here. Meanwhile, NPR (National Public Radio) have prepared their own Top 50 album list here.   When it comes to Country, there are several lists to pick from.  Start with Taste of Country’s  ’10 Country Albums That Stood Above the Rest in 2017’ here. and then check Billboard’s ‘The 10 Best Country Albums of 2017: Critics’ Choice’ at the magazine’s website.   No doubt, with every list, you’ll say, “What?! How could they leave out [insert your favorite album name here]!”

“Songwriters are the lifeblood of Music City”

In late December, Congressmen Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) introduced “The Music Modernization Act Of 2017” (HR 4706), legislation designed to improve songwriter royalty rates from digital streaming companies while making the music licensing process more efficient.

In a story published at musicrow.com, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) says, “Songwriters are the lifeblood of Music City, and their paychecks ought to be based on the fair market value of their songs – so that when they write a hit heard around the world, you can see it in their billfolds.” Alexander continued, “We intend to introduce legislation that we have been working on for months to help songwriters receive fair market compensation early next year, and we will be including in our legislation many of the same provisions that were in the House bill introduced today.”

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch were noted as guiding forces throughout this process, years in the making. A Senate version of the legislation will be introduced in early 2018. Read the full Music Row story here.

And finally…

Justin Timberlake – way before NSYNC

Justin Timberlake, age 11

Some people muttered “He ain’t Country,” when Justin Timberlake appeared onstage with Chris Stapleton during the 2015 CMA Awards for their “Tennessee Whiskey” duet.  But Justin’s country roots go w-a-y back to when he was just a tyke growing up in Shelby Forest, Tennessee.

If you haven’t already seen it, take a look at a young Timberlake performing an Alan Jackson song on Star Search here.

Remembering these musicians lost in 2017

Troy Gentry, Glen Campbell, Don Williams, Mel Tillis and more

Sadly, 2017 saw the world of music lose so many great talents.  Every year, we have to say farewell to some of our favorite musicians, but in 2017, we seemed to experience more than the usual number of passings.

Among those we are mourning…

Mel Tillis. Photo: Billboard

Mel Tillis, 85, who wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs and recorded more than 60 albums, overcoming a speech impediment to give us so many hits such as “Coca Cola Cowboy, “I Ain’t Never” and “Good Woman Blues.”

 

Troy Gentry. Photo: CNN

Troy Gentry, 50, tragically killed in a helicopter crash on September 8.  With Eddie Montgomery, as part of the duo Montgomery Gentry, he recorded more than 20 charting singles that showed the early influence of Southern Rock on these Kentucky boys.

 

Glen Campbell. Photo: glencampbell.com

Glen Campbell, 81, who found steady work as an in-demand session guitarist in Los Angeles (on cuts by Elvis, Nancy Sinatra, Dean Martin and many Phil Spector tracks), before finding fame as a singer with worldwide pop/country hits including “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Gentle On My Mind” and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.”

 

Tom Petty. Photo: AP/Mark Humphrey

Tom Petty, 66. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was also known as a staunch advocate for artist control over music.  With his band, The Heartbreakers, he had scores of pop hits and was also part of The Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne.

 

Gregg Allman. Photo: USA Today

Gregg Allman, 69, a Nashville native who was a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band. Despite setbacks and tragedies (including the death of Duane Allman in 1971) the band continued playing, on and off until the 2010s. (Drummer Butch Trucks, another founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, died in January 2017, aged 69.)

 

Don Williams. Photo: donwilliams.com

Don Williams, 78. A 2010 inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Williams’ career included 17 number one Country chart toppers, including the Roger Cook & Sam Hogin-penned crossover hit “I Believe in You.” He was also seen in movies such as “Smokey and the Bandit II” and “WW and the Dixie Dance Kings.”

 

Robert Knight. Photo: Getty/Rick Diamond

Robert Knight, 72.  The R&B/pop singer and Franklin, Tenn., native was discovered singing at a Vanderbilt frat party and immediately signed to a record deal, resulting in the smash hit “Everlasting Love,” described as “one of the most enduring songs ever to come out of Nashville” by Michael Gray, the Country Music Hall of Fame historian.

 

Chuck Berry. Photo: Chess Records

Chuck Berry, 90, the rock and roll pioneer whose songwriting and guitar playing influenced generations of pop, rock and country artists. Almost until his death on March 18, 2017, Berry was performing and even recording one final album. His massive hits include “Maybellene,” “Little Queenie” and “Roll Over Beethoven.”

And so many others, including…

David Cassidy, 69, teenage heartthrob singer who found fame as part of TV’s Partridge Family… Della Reese, 86, the phenomenal R&B/Soul singer who later became a move & TV star… Fats Domino, 89, the unique New Orleans rock and roll pianist and singer… Al Jarreau, 76, the multi-Grammy-winning singer of bluesy pop hits such as “We’re In This Love Together”… Walter Becker, 67, the singer/songwriter who, with Dan Fagen, formed Steely Dan… Malcolm Young, 64, guitarist, singer and co-founder (with brother Angus) of the hard rock band AC/DC… Johnny Hallyday, 74, known as the ‘French Elvis,’ he released an astonishing 79 albums, selling more than 80 million records worldwide… Wayne Cochran, 78, the ‘blue-eyed soul’ singer whose flamboyant stage performance influenced Elvis, wrote and recorded the original version of the teen tragedy (‘splatter platter’) hit, “Last Kiss.”

Yes, there were more, and all will be missed.  As The Righteous Brothers sang in 1974: “If there’s a rock and roll heaven, you know they’ve got a hell of a band.”

Songwriter news roundup

Vital issues affect creators’ rights

December is often a quiet time around the music industry, but this year there are a number of news items that can affect the lives of songwriters and recording artists.  Here are some you might want to check out.

BMI Songwriters Win 100% Licensing Ruling

On December 19, NSAI posted the following news bulletin: Today the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals put the issue of 100% licensing to rest by affirming an earlier ruling by BMI rate court Judge Louis Stanton.

“The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) is thrilled and relieved that BMI songwriters no longer have to be concerned about the U.S. Department of Justice’s misguided ruling on 100% licensing,” said NSAI President Steve Bogard.  “We congratulate BMI CEO Mike O’Neil and his team on this important victory and hope the DOJ now releases ASCAP from their ruling that was delivered in 2016.  The time has come to discuss sun-setting or updating the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees so that songwriters can earn fair performance royalty rates from streaming services.”

More about NSAI at http://www.nashvillesongwriters.com/

HAAWK –that tracks revenue for rights holders – buys Royalty Claim and TuneRegistry

From a report at Billboard.com: HAAWK, a rights management and content monetization firm started by Ad-Rev co-founder Ryan Born, has acquired RoyaltyClaim and TuneRegistry. Terms of the deal were not disclosed although Haawk had previously raised $2.5 million in seed venture capital from Rincon Venture Partners.

Prior to this current acquisition, HAAWK bought certain assets from Dart Music, which specialized in cleaning up music rights metadata, among other rights management services. That company filed for bankruptcy last summer and its assets were sold in separate deals to HAAWK and Core Rights LLC this fall.  Continue reading the Billboard story here.

Songwriters: Support H.R. 3945, a bill to create a Small Claims Court

An email sent out by The Copyright Alliance urges creators (including songwriters) to support a bill in Congress that would establish a way for individuals to fight infringement of their rights. The text of the email reads:

Join the copyright community in asking your Congressional Representative to cosponsor H.R. 3945, the CASE Act of 2017, a bill that would create a copyright small claims court for creators and small businesses (It’s quick and easy to do!)

For many photographers, illustrators, authors, songwriters and other creators who own copyrighted works, enforcing their rights is not feasible. Litigation is expensive and many creators simply can’t afford it. In effect, the U.S. copyright system currently provides creators with rights but no effective remedies.

Continue reading the Copyright Alliance story here.

RCA Studio B, 60 years on

Recording artists still keeping the sound alive

Among all the recording studios in Nashville, probably the most famous has to be RCA Studio B. In many ways, it was where the ‘Nashville Sound’ developed, mainly under the direction of the legendary Chet Atkins. But the microphones have not been mothballed just yet, according to a story broadcast on WPLN.

RCA Studio B. Photo: Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum

For 20 years (1957 to 1977), Studio B was the birthplace of hundreds of hit records that impacted both the Country and Pop charts. The list of stars who stepped up to the microphone in that studio includes Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton and so many more. My cousins, the Everly Brothers, were there from the beginning, cutting their first Studio B session in November 1957.

Now, Studio B is a must-see stop for visitors to Nashville and the tour buses pull up every hour across the street from my office on Music Square West.  But although Studio B is now a tourist destination, operated and maintained by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, some musicians still find a way to capture the unique sound that only this studio can create.

WPLN-FM, Nashville’s Public Radio station, recently aired a story about musicians and artists who find a way to record songs today in Studio B, keeping that signature sound alive. As an example, JD McPherson recently topped the Americana charts with ‘Lucky Penny.’ He recorded it at the famed studio 60 years after Don Gibson recorded his version of the song in the same studio.

You can hear the audio of that WPLN story and read the text here.

If you want to know more about the amazing history of RCA Studio B, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum published a book, full of stories and pictures, that’s available in the book shop and online.

Garth ‘comes home’ to Nashville

Blows the roof off Bridgestone Arena

Garth Brooks will likely remember Saturday, December 9, 2017 for a number of reasons. When he and wife Trisha Yearwood picked up their mics at the afternoon press conference, he told us it was something of a homecoming for them: the first time they had played Nashville since the fundraiser following the ‘great Nashville flood’ of 2010.

Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood at press conference. Photo: Preshias Harris

As Trisha said, after three years on the road, it was pleasant to realize they didn’t have to pack a suitcase. After each of their Nashville shows, they could simply drive to their home in Goodlettsville. Garth smiled at said, “Welcome to the end of the journey.”

December 9 also marked the official announcement that Garth’s latest single, ‘Ask Me How I Know,’ reached Number One on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. It was his first Number One since 2007’s ‘More Than A Memory.’  To add poignancy, December 9, 1989, was the date that Garth reached the Number One spot for the first time with ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes.’

Oh, and Saturday was the eve of Garth and Trisha’s wedding anniversary: they were married December 10, 2005. A memorable weekend in so many ways.

Garth’s pre-show celebration

Garth Brooks on stage at Bridgestone Arena. Photo: Preshias Harris

At a backstage party prior to Saturday’s show at Bridgestone Arena, Garth and Trisha celebrated their return to Nashville following an incredible tour that shattered  every record for attendance and ticket revenue. Awards were presented to Garth, one after another, marking so many milestones in a unique career. Among his astonishing achievements: he is the best-selling solo artist in the United States with over 148 million domestic units sold, and over 160 million records sold worldwide.

He is also the only artist to have released seven albums that reached diamond status, according to RIAA. (This is an even greater achievement when you remember that he took a hiatus from recording between 2001 and 2009 to focus more fully on being with his family.)

At the pre-show party, it was also announced that Garth also tops the Nielsen BookScan chart with the Number One non-fiction book, ‘The Anthology, Part One: The First Five Years.’

Mitch Rossell at the Bridgestone. Photo: Mike Harris

And then it was showtime. A packed Bridgestone Arena was treated to a superb show that opened with a solo set from singer/songwriter Mitch Rossell who wrote Garth’s current chart-topper, ‘Ask Me How I Know.’ That song is Rossell’s first commercially released cut as a songwriter, making it a memorable night for him, too.  Rossell was followed by a set by Karyn Rochelle, a fine songwriter who co-penned ‘Red High Heels’ with Kelly Pickler.

Two+ hours of high energy

Garth at Bridgestone Arena. Photo: Preshias Harris

When Garth finally hit the stage, the sold-out crowd erupted as he roared into ‘Let’s Lay Down and Dance,’ the beginning of more than two hours of faultless high energy.  Garth is a master of handling a crowd.  At one point, without saying or singing a word, he virtually ‘conducted’ the audience like a mime.  For several minutes, he urged different sections of the crowd to compete in the volume of the noise they could produce, building to a deafening crescendo.

As he had pointed out at the press conference, he understands an audience’s desire to hear the familiar hits and he knows how to finesse the performance of lesser-known or current material into his set. He didn’t disappoint, performing a string of crowd favorites, including ‘The Thunder Roars,’ ‘Rodeo,’ ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes,’ and many more. Trisha joined him onstage with some of her own hits including ‘She’s In Love With the Boy’ and ‘Memphis.’

With all the records that Garth has already broken, he isn’t done yet.  Although the current World Tour is finally coming to an end, there’s no end in sight to his unique and remarkable career, as much a tribute to his mastery of marketing as to his amazing musical talent.  There’s more to come.

photo: facebook.com/mitchrossellofficial

Footnote: Mitch Rossell, who opened for Garth and also wrote the current Number One, may be finding his first taste of chart success  as a writer, but he is no newcomer to the music business. As he told the audience during his set, he’d been playing music and writing songs as long as he could remember. He’d been in Nashville for about five years, determined to make music his career. He looked around the packed arena and said that before these tour dates with Garth, “I was playing Tootsie’s bar at the Nashville Airport.” Aspiring artists and songwriters need to remind themselves that ‘Nashville is a five-year town’ – or maybe a ten-year town for some. Patience and perseverance win out in the end.

Amanda Winter proves determination can overcome challenges

New Christmas EP, release party set for Dec 4

As any successful artist or songwriter will tell you, they faced a lot of challenges on the way to the top.  They got where they are today because they didn’t give up on their dreams, despite the setbacks.

An emerging artist who has endured more than her share of challenges in her life is Amanda Winter. Born to a drug-addicted mother, Amanda was shuttled between foster homes as a child with only her growing love of music to keep her focused.

She is set to release her first Nashville Christmas EP, “Christmas Before You,” on December 4th. The project showcases a heart tugging tune co-written by Amanda and Mikalene Ipson. The title track depicts the yearnings of a young child and those of a childless couple during the Holidays. The six-song project was produced by Grammy® nominated producer Kent Wells and also features five seasonal Christmas favorites. Proceeds from the sale of the music will be donated to a local foster care organization. The EP is available on all digital platforms.

Release party at The Studio

Amanda will celebrate the release of her new EP with a special concert at 6:00 pm on Monday, December 4 at The Studio, 3315 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville.  Doors open at 5:30; free admittance with donation.  The release party will also feature special guest Allie Colleen.

Amanda Winter. Photo credit: Moments By Moser Photography

Amanda is no stranger to challenges. When she was eighteen-months-old, Amanda, was taken away from her mother by the state. She had eight different foster homes by the time she was five. In fact, Amanda had been born prematurely as a result of her mother’s abuse of drugs and alcohol. As a result, she was born with severely underdeveloped lungs.  When you hear her sing now, you wonder what her voice would have sounded like if her lungs had developed normally!

Amanda was one of six siblings, all of whom had different fathers. At the age of twenty, Amanda contacted her biological father for the first time. He was surprised to see her as, he said, he’d given Amanda’s mother money for an abortion. Fortunately for Amanda, her mother had spent the money on something else. Despite her harrowing early life, Amanda found her passion in music, joining the Nebraska Country Music Foundation and winning first place in an amateur vocalist contest at the age of nine, the first of many such awards.

Taking the dream to Music City

When her mother passed away from liver and kidney failure, Amanda packed all her belongings in her car and drove to Nashville in 2013, following her dream of a career in music.  She arrived in Music City without knowing anybody and no job prospects – simply a burning desire to achieve her goal.

In May of 2015, Amanda released her very first Nashville EP, consisting of 7 original songs, 2 of which she co-wrote.  Her first original song “Little Girl…Big Dream” became an anthem for her life. A song to tell the world that no one can define you; if you really chase after your dreams, anything is possible.

And now comes the new project, her latest music career achievement that she combines with her love for children facing challenges in their lives.  She is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and is a supporter of the US Military, Habitat For Humanity, Big Brothers & Big Sisters programs and Nashville’s Foster Care services.

“Work hard and dream big”

Growing up herself as a foster child, she continues to be an activist for children everywhere, and hopes to be living proof that it doesn’t matter where you come from, that you can achieve it all if you work hard and dream big.

Find Amanda Winter’s music and tour updates here.

“I have been very blessed in my life with a very strong group of friends who have helped me through each stage of my life. I met the people refer to as my ‘adoptive family’ as an adult and they have taught me what being in a family is all about. I have been through hell and back, but it has taught me how short and precious life is, and how important it is to love above everything else.” –Amanda Winter