Jace Carlton
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Performing Songwriter - Freelance Writer / Photojournalist - Poet - Author

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Up Close and Personal
with
The Nashville Underground

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Nashville Underground Nashville Underground
An Evening with
Chuck Cannon * Pam Rose * Chuck Jones


Reviewed by Jace Carlton
Originally published in
The Songwriter's Connection  -  March  2003
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What a night!  For those of us NOT blessed with the opportunity to live in or near Nashville, the Nashville Underground is the newest, best kept secret that won't be secret much longer.  OK, a little background ...

It all started as I was looking up some info on the internet about some of my favorite Nashville songwriters; Pam Rose, Chuck Cannon, Chuck Jones, Mary Ann Kennedy, Hugh Prestwood, etc.  After I left Pam's website I typed in a link for Chuck Cannon and up pops his page as a part of the Nashville Underground!  Hmmm, what's this?  I click through several links and I'm fascinated by what I've discovered.  Initially it gave me a brief bio and only a couple of Chuck Cannon's MANY credits (Toby Keith REALLY likes this guy!  Chuck had a couple of cuts on TK's early albums, and then something must have clicked for them because FIVE cuts appeared on Toby's "Dreamwalkin'" album, PLUS they co-wrote the smash hit that sent Toby's career into orbit, "How Do You Like Me Now?"! )

You know those "rare" opportunities you have when you're watching TV (HA!) and a commercial comes on for a movie "coming soon to a theater near you"?  I'm checking out the whole website and discover that three of its members are coming to a venue near me!  So I instantly order my tickets online and THEN excitedly tell my wife to clear our calendar for that night because I'm taking her to Nashville!  (Don't worry, I'm not a chauvinist.  I politely asked her to check our calendar, but whatever might have been there just HAD to be moved!  I was THAT determined NOT to miss this show!)  Her head whips around and her eyes pop out (you see, we live near San Francisco) and I calm her down by explaining that Nashville's actually coming to us.  Bewildered, I tell her about how there's this group of top songwriters in Nashville that have come together to form the Nashville Underground and three of them are coming to the Bay Area.  I tell her about Pam Rose, Chuck Cannon, and Chuck Jones and the bewilderment goes away and excitement sets in.  Now WE can't wait!

Over three weeks later the night we've been waiting for FINALLY arrives and we're off to the concert, which they present "in the round", at Berkeley's famous Freight and Salvage Coffee House (GREAT acoustics and sound system).  The house MC, "The Dude" (that's his name, really!  Remember ... this is Berkeley, ok?) introduces them and I'm ready to give them a standing ovation right off the bat just for coming out our way, but I contain my enthusiasm so I don't embarrass my sweetheart.  Chuck, Pam and Chuck take the stage and introduce themselves, beginning to share some life stories while they fine tune their guitars, then 2½ hours of continuous music begins to flow with Chuck Cannon's "We Were In Love" (Toby Keith), followed by Pam Rose with "I’ll Still Be Loving You" (Restless Heart, and co-written by one of my favorite songwriters, Mary Ann Kennedy), and Chuck Jones finishes the first round with "Love A Little Longer" (Diamond Rio).

Back to Chuck Cannon and "I Love The Way You Love Me" (John Michael Montgomery), Pam shares one of her "Morpheus" cuts, "Please Don't Make Me Say Goodnight", and Chuck Jones sings one that Mark Wills has just recorded, "What She Sees In Me".

On they go, round after round, harmonizing and playing together, telling personal stories along the way, saying how much they love California and that they plan (not hope, but PLAN) on coming back for another tour in a few months (YES!), playing hit after hit, along with some very personal songs that THEY'RE going to make famous through their OWN recordings.  Pam recently released "Morpheus", Chuck Jones is about to release "Inexpressible", and Chuck Cannon will release his sometime between next fall and winter (hopefully!)

For those of us in the Northern California Songwriter's Association who attended last September's Conference and heard Steve Seskin sing "Pictures" (what a GREAT story behind that song!), well, Steve's co-writer was Chuck Jones, and when Chuck began to introduce the song he asked if Steve was in the house, but Steve unfortunately had to leave early.  It's the title track on John Michael Montgomery's latest album, and as Chuck began to sing I flashed back to our Conference ... what a great experience!  OK ... a shameless plug ... for those of you who don't belong to the NCSA, and I don't care where you live, you SHOULD!  It's one of the premiere songwriter's organizations in the industry and is highly praised by "those in the know" in Nashville and other top music centers nationwide.  Check into it!  Besides, some great new announcements are about to be made that you don't want to miss!)

OK, back to the show ... I could go on and on and list all the songs they sang and who took them up the charts (or who will SOON be taking them up the charts), but you'll just have to catch them, or any of the other groups of NU performers that are branching out across the country to spread their message.  Be sure to check out their website (listed below) to see who's coming near you and when, and then get the word out to give your whole support to this great movement.  In the end, it'll benefit ALL songwriters.

As the home page on their website says, " ... the Nashville Underground Record Collective, [is] a place where the finest performing songwriters [can] record their original versions of the hit songs they've penned for other artists, as well as those more personal songs that belong exclusively to their own artist voices. The artists have complete creative control and retain ownership of their masters."

OK, did you catch that last line?!?!  I repeat ... "THE ARTISTS HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL AND RETAIN OWNERSHIP OF THEIR MASTERS."  FINALLY!  An answer to the big shot conglomerates who've taken over the whole music industry, putting a stranglehold on everything truly creative from radio to records and seemingly drying up the very life-blood that's fed the industry so well for so many years.  I'm not going to get into my opinions about that tragedy in this column this month (I'll leave that for a later time, though I will say that Courtney Love did a superb job in addressing that issue in an article for Salon some time ago.  Plus, I've been on the radio side of the equation and witnessed the horrible results of the FCC rulings in the mid-90's.)

The Nashville Underground is the premiere forerunner of a movement that will swell as more and more songwriters realize what a powerful voice they have when they pull together to give the listeners and the music buying public what they truly want … respect, honesty, and integrity returned to the music industry!

Check them out at  www.nashvilleunderground.com

Two tickets for a great evening with three of Nashville's greats:  $30.00

Up-front center seats:  Awesome!!!

The chance to chat with them afterwards and get autographs:  FREE

The chance to have Nashville come to YOU:  Priceless!

Copyright © 2006 by Jace Carlton

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Jace Carlton lives in the Nashville, TN area and is a member of NSAI.  A Freelance Writer / Photographer, Poet, Author, and former Radio DJ, he now enjoys a career as a Songwriter, and a collaborator much in demand predominantly in the Country genre, but also enjoys occasionally writing for A/C, Pop, R&B, Smooth Jazz, and Cabaret.  As a Freelance Writer he has contributed reviews on new CD's to online newsletters and regularly contributed book and concert reviews along with personal commentary on the music industry to Nashville's Songwriter's Connection e-Zine.

Jace is also the creator of the Change Your Stars! website and its companion daily motivational / inspirational e-mail message that's read by over 14,000 people all over the world.  For a free subscription click here and you'll be added within 24 hours.  Privacy Statement


Comments regarding this review may be sent to Jace@jacecarlton.com

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