As the crowd trickled in from the Vanderbilt game across street, Musicians Corner kicked another week of its fall season. An eclectic offering of music this week had the Centennial Park crowd enthralled and entertained, despite the lack of parking. With the game and Dog Days in the Park right next door, fans may have had to walk, but they were not deterred.
Leading off the day was SPELLS, performing their inaugural show at Musicians Corner. A riveting combination of electronic, punk and pop, SPELLS performed songs from their album Escapist, a thematic compilation about breaking out of the status quo. If this first show is any indication, we should be hearing from SPELLS long into the future.
Following SPELLS was Audrey Spillman on the acoustic stage. Her voice is powerful yet pleasant, with a style all her own. She played the ukulele accompanied by a Cajon drum and a guitar for a very soulful, acoustic, folksy sound. After her performance, several members of the crowd were asking about where they could hear more of Audrey.
The next act drew a lot of excitement and interest from Musicians Corner patrons. The DanBerrys combine elements of several genres, add in a banjo and mandolin for a bluegrass feel and end up with music that everyone was clapping along to. And when the banjo and mandolin broke down into solos and battles, one could not help but turn to the closest person and declare, “This is awesome!”
Hannah Miller was the second act on the acoustic stage. Accompanied by her husband, her voice was soft and sweet. They complimented each other very nicely, although at one point Hannah admitted, “We’ve been married nine years and I only now wrote a love song for him.” She has worked with many acclaimed producers, and had her song Keep It Simple licensed for the Show “Mercy,” proving that Hannah is certainly one of Nashville’s bright young stars.
Fresh of off another hot Lady Antebellum release, Nashville producer Paul Worley took the stage for the second week in a row to announce the Dog of the Day. With Dog Days having ended, this week’s crowd held a myriad of canines, including as many as five Great Danes. One of these was the lucky winner, and this one came up to Paul’s shoulders.
Stating that this was the first time a dog had ever opened for him, Christopher Williams took the stage next. A one-man multi-instrumentalist, Williams transformed the large sprawling crowd into an atmosphere of a small nightclub. He started by singing to his own drumbeat, then switched to guitar and alternated to a harmonica. With bluesy country songs such as Honest Man, his music truly resonated with the audience.
The final acoustic stage act has had songs featured on the shows “90210,” The United States of Tara,” and “Private Practice.” Jon Black’s style has been described as “Jackson Browne and Neil Young mixed with rich, thick atmospheres and musical landscapes.” His lyrical indie sound was incredibly entertaining, adding yet another twist on the assorted musical stylings of the day.
The headliner of the day was Nashville performing legend and esteemed veteran Pat McLaughlin. A songwriting dynamo, McLaughlin’s compositions have been recorded by artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood, Nanci Griffith and Josh Turner. McLaughlin began without a sound check, had a mic go out in the middle of a song, and still performed beautifully, getting the crowd on its feet. During his part of the show McLaughlin attracted the more people up close to the stage dancing with Rico (who was donning an new Musicians Corner t-shirt) than there have been all season.
Musicians Corner is a non-profit program of The Conservancy for the Parthenon & Centennial Park. The fall season of Musicians Corner runs on Saturdays through November 5 and promises more great artists and special guests. For additional information and the fall schedule please visit www.musicianscornernashville.com.