Halloween Crowd Toasts Lady Antebellum’s “Bartender”

Vocal Trio Co-Wrote Hit With Top Composer Rodney Clawson

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It was all treats and no tricks for the Music Row throng that gathered Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 29) at Nashville’s City Winery to celebrate the chart-crowning success of Lady Antebellum’s recent single, “Bartender.”

The song was jointly written by Lady A’s Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott — and the much-laurelled Rodney Clawson.

Guests arriving at City Winery’s upstairs showroom were offered black witch hats and red devil horns to maximize the Halloween mood. But many of the partygoers — several bringing their young children — came to the party already costumed.

Before the award presentations began, the tree-tall Kelley roamed through the crowd clad in a plastic beer barrel and wearing a green beer-stein shaped hat.

Haywood, similarly beer barreled, was tricked out in a mullet wig and disco ball earrings.

Scott, carrying her baby, Eisele, sported black tights and a miniature glittering silver top hat. Eisele seemed content in her pink baby pig togs.

The three performing rights organization — ASCAP, BMI and SESAC — co-sponsored the party. Haywood and Kelley are ASCAP members, Scott belongs to SESAC and Clawson is represented by BMI.

ASCAP’s Michael Martin opened the formal ceremony by announcing that “Bartender” has racked up sales of more than 1 million. He further noted Lady A has had nine No. 1 songs in its eight years of recording, won seven Grammys and is up for two CMA awards this year — vocal group and best music video (for “Bartender”).

Tim Fink, speaking for SESAC, reported he’s lately witnessed a strange phenomenon each day he has a No. 1 party to attend. He said when he’s driving to work on the day of the party, he invariably hears the song that’s being celebrated playing on the radio.

Sure enough, he continued, as he started for the office on this morning, here came “Bartender” blaring through the speakers.

“I’ll be damned,” he said to himself. Then he realized it wasn’t the radio he was hearing but the CD player.

“Bartender” is Lady A’s fifth SESAC No. 1.

BMI’s Leslie Roberts praised Clawson for his songwriting prowess. She pointed out that “Bartender” is his 15th No. 1 — and that he’s had three more since. In fact, she added, he’s scored six No. 1’s this year alone.

“I want to brag on Dave a lot for his song,” Kelley told the crowd, alluding to Haywood’s efforts. “He’s a workaholic. … He came up with these amazing riffs. … I’ve never had so much fun working on a record.”

Lady A wrapped up the proceedings by singing “Bartender” to the loudly applauding crowd.

View photos from the party.
Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.