Songwriters’ showcase at Lorraine’s Coffee House

Lorraine Jordan, the Lady of Tradition, for the second consecutive year, capitalized on the talent in Raleigh for IBMA and invited a group of leading songwriters in the bluegrass genre to share their talents at her coffee house in nearby Garner, NC, on Wednesday night. Present for the showcase were Brink Brinkman, Irene Kelley, Jerry Salley, Daryl Mosley, and the husband/wife team of Rick Stanley and Donna Ulisse. In addition, Jordan and two of her Carolina Road band mates, Allen Dyer and Wayne Morris, also performed to the packed room.

Royce Jordan, Lorraine’s dad, served as the evening’s emcee. “We have the finest songwriters in bluegrass music,” he declared.

The songsmiths sat at microphones and shared the backstories to songs they had penned, taking turns singing through multiple rounds of original music. Calling it the preshow, Brinkman and Kelley took the stage first, sharing some of their personal favorite originals.

Brink started with his song, Cottontown, recorded by Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out. He followed that with this story, “I wrote this song on a steering wheel (on a McDonald’s napkin) going 70 mph down the interstate. Pine Mountain Railroad with the Isaacs recorded it and it became Song of the Year.” The songwriter then broke into Beyond the Rain. He pitched a humorous melody, Biscuits and Gravy, a Joe Mullins number one song Folded Flag, and Grandpa’s Way of Life recorded by the Spinney Brothers.

Kelley began her part of the program with a song that she co-wrote with Terry Herd and Billy Droze, Something About A Train Sound. Others she shared included a song about her dad, Benny’s TV Repair, a gospel tune, Before You Call Me Home, and a touching tune co-written with Claire Lynch, Highway.

 Hostess Jordan joined Donna Ulisse, SPBGMA’s 2022 Songwriter of the Year, on stage to sing a song that Ulisse had penned about a cross necklace worn by Lorraine’s late mother, and now worn daily by her. They share a special bond, as Ulisse also wears a cross worn by her late mother. Carolina Road released the original tune on Mother’s Day and it was the most downloaded song of the day.

At the close of the song, Lorraine declared, “Our crosses will not be laid to rest because our daughters will wear them.”

Daryl Mosley sang a song that he co-wrote with Rick Lang, Thankful. He shared an inspiration for a song. “I spend a lot of times in hotels.” He then launched into The Bible in the Drawer, singing it from the Good Book’s perspective. Other beloved songs he presented included Prodigal Son, Mayberry State of Mind, and Transistor Radio.

Jerry Salley began with a number that he co-wrote with his dear friend, Larry Cordle, To Be Remembered. He followed up with a song he wrote for Joe Mullins, Bacon in My Beans, and Tom T Hall’s favorite that Salley penned, Paper and Pen

Ulisse (accompanied by her husband, Rick Stanley, also shared a Cord co-write, Where the Mountain Lilies Grow. Originals she sang included a song paying respect to Bill Monroe, Rosine, one about her hometown, Living Large in a Little Bitty Town, and a heartfelt gospel song, My Heart Belongs to Jesus.

Lorraine and her two band mates paid homage to songwriter David Stewart, singing songs he wrote that went to number one for Carolina Road:  True Grass, Just an Old Penny Waiting On Change (co-written with Brink), and A Little Bit of Bluegrass.  

Pinecone Bluegrass deejay Larry Nixon with WQDR Radio in Raleigh was invited to the stage to introduce a song he penned which was recorded by Carolina Road, They Call It Bluegrass.

‘It was a great event,” concluded Mosley. “I am thankful for Lorraine. She was the first to call me when I launched my solo career.”

All the other presenters followed suit and praised Jordan for her dedication to promoting original bluegrass music.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.