Tin Pan South Celebrates Songwriting

Festival Continues Through Saturday in Nashville

The Tin Pan South songwriter’s festival kicked off Tuesday (March 25) in Nashville, shining a light on the personalities behind some of the most loved songs ever written.

Organized by the Nashville Songwriters Association International, Tin Pan South is the largest songwriter’s festival in the world and gets its name from the turn-of-the-20th-century neighborhood in New York City that was the center of the songwriting universe. During the summer months when all the windows were open, the cacophony of hundreds of workshops was said to sound like a bunch of tin pans banging together — thus, Tin Pan Alley.

Fast forward to the turn-of-the-21st-century when the mecca of songwriting has arguably shifted to Nashville. Over the four days of the 22nd annual festival, more than 300 songwriters — from Jeffrey Steele and Ben Hayslip to Kim Richey and Amy Speace — will perform in venues around the city.

At the Station Inn, I caught a four-person guitar pull featuring Critter Fuqua and Chance McCoy of Old Crow Medicine Show, as well as Chuck Mead and Holly Williams.

“Great, now you’re teaming up on us,” quipped Mead, since McCoy already knows many of his bandmate’s songs. “It’s not a competition.”

If it were a competition, though, I’d have to give the best one-liner award to Mead for “I Got the Finger,” most emotionally-torturous narrative to Williams for “Waiting on June” (the story of her maternal grandparents’ lifelong love) and best collaboration to Fuqua and McCoy for “Doc’s Day,” a new song written for Old Crow Medicine Show loosely documenting the day Doc Watson discovered the group on a street corner.

Elsewhere in the city on Tuesday night were stalwarts Tony Arata, Craig Carothers and Phillip Coleman with young scribe Jesse Terry at Douglas Corner, current “it” kids Brandy Clark, Shane MacAnally and Josh Osborne at the Listening Room CafĂ© and perennial hitmakers Brett James, Lee Thomas Miller, Rivers Rutherford and Caitlyn Smith at the Rutledge, plus many, many more.

Check out the rest of Tin Pan South’s enormous lineup.
Writer/producer for CMT.com and CMT Edge. He's been to Georgia on a fast train. He wasn't born no yesterday.