It is true what they say in the Nashville songwriting community; it all begins with a song. I was reminded of this on Saturday night when I attended a songwriter’s round at Puckett’s Grocery in Franklin, TN. showcasing the songwriting talents of Donna Ulisse, Curtis Wright and Claire Lynch. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to attend a songwriter’s round, it gives the listener the unique opportunity to hear the writer sing their own songs in a stripped down version with just guitar accompaniment in this case. Often each writer will give the audience some insight into the process of writing each song and where the inspiration came from. Sometimes songwriters can write profound songs yet not be very good singers. It still always thrills me to hear the writer singing their own songs. In the case of the show at Puckett’s, we in the audience were not only treated to an evening of finely crafted songs but we were fortunate that each writer on the stage has made their own mark as a gifted vocalist and entertainer which was the icing on the cake.
Donna Ulisse sang songs off her warmly received CD “When I Look Back” of which she wrote or co-wrote all fourteen songs. However, one of the treats of the evening was to hear her sing “Love’s Crazy Train” which will be on her upcoming release, “Walk This Mountain Down.” It is a song she wrote with Richard Leigh who is best known for writing the Crystal Gayle hit, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” She was joined on stage by her husband Rick Stanley on guitar and he lightened up the evening when he sang a song they co-wrote which he recorded titled, “You Can’t Smoke The Bluegrass.”
Rounder Records recording artist Claire Lynch charmed the audience with songs she has written and recorded. One of my favorite songs of the evening was Moon Town, a song she wrote about life in a small town being not only accepted but cherished. She also sang a song she and Ulisse had co-written this summer titled “Face To Face” and announced that she plans to record the song. I had only seen and heard Claire Lynch perform with her band until this night but she was incredibly engaging just sitting on stage on a stool with her guitar. I loved seeing this side of her talent.
Curtis Wright kept us all laughing with his jokes and self-depracating humor as well as some of his songs, especially one titled, “It’s Early Yet.” Lynch reminded him of a song he wrote that Patty Loveless had recorded and she and Wright had actually met singing harmonies for Loveless at some point for a special show. It was the first cut Wright ever had and it is the song, “You Saved Me.” You could have heard a pin drop when he sang it. Curtis is also a very in-demand session singer in Nashville and has written many #1 hits for other artists.
So folks, when you visit Nashville, I strongly recommend you find a writer’s round at one of the local venues. Sure, it is great to hear music in a fully produced setting with all the instruments. I love it myself. But sometimes these writer’s rounds can be so magical and intimate which is what Saturday night at Puckett’s turned out to be. Yes indeed, it was very special evening.