CMA Fest has come and gone once again, and it was full of terrific shows from a variety singer/songwriters. I spent my time seeking singer/songwriters and artists who are new in town and those who are still somewhat unknown but who are gaining momentum. From Sunday, June 2nd to Sunday, June 9th, I want to share with you the highlights for Undiscovered Nashville.
Sunday: Nashville Tour Stop and BusCall
If you have never stopped by Belcourt Taps on Sunday night from 6 pm to Midnight, come on out because that is where you will find me every week. The Nashville Tour Stop, hosted by Aaron Schilb, never disappoints and is booking a lineup filled with talented writers each week. One of the highlights of June 2nd was a thirty-minute feature set from Melanie Meriney. Every hour was full of gifted writers including Jessica Bitsura, KAKI, Kirstie Kraus, Aaron Schilb, Tyler Bank, Alex Barnes, Joybeth Taylor, Kate Cosentino, Lauren Weintraub, Maggie Renfroe, Garrett Biggs, and Josiah Siska, and Aaron Clafton.
In between rounds at Nashville Tour Stop, I dropped by BusCall at Tin Roof Broadway for their monthly Sunday night showcase. If you are unfamiliar with BusCall, they present a full band showcase every Wednesday at Tin Roof Demonbreun. I made it down to see the powerhouse vocals of JessLee, who will be the subject of an upcoming feature article. JessLee was a contestant on Season 14 of The Voice, but her BusCall performance was the first time I had seen her perform. Her final song left me almost speechless. “Drinking About You,” a song on her upcoming EP, allowed her voice to soar. In addition to JessLee, I was able to see the ever-talented Jake Durkin.
Monday: Nash Edition
Monday night at Nash Edition was an Aussie invasion. I arrived to see Zac and George, Warren Atwell (from Northen Ireland), and Katrina Burgoyne. The harmonies that Zac and George were performing were as good as any I have ever seen. Katrina brought up another Aussie, who had just got off the plane the night before, to play a song. Her name was Sammy White. In addition to this fantastic round, I was able to see Patrick Murphy, Luke Nassar, Drea Gordon, Knox Morris, and Alexander Strums.
Wednesday Night: Chicks N’ Picks CMA Fest Kickoff and Women Crush It
At the Dawghouse Saloon on Wednesday night, an all-female lineup full of talent was incredible. This night was exciting for me since I had never seen any other these writers perform except Mandy McMillan and Stephanie Owens. I had only seen Jada Vance sing a couple of times at Winners on Karaoke night. These ladies truly stood out from the crowd: Liddy Clark, Tiffany Ashton, Jada Vance, Mandy McMillan, Katlyn Lowe, Bailey James, and Stephanie Owens.
Women Crush It Wednesday at Live Oak was full of outstanding performances from Kalsey Kulyk, Rachel Horter, Maggie Baugh, Jessie G, Melanie Meriney, and Madeline McDonald. Rachel Horter, also the subject of an upcoming feature article, never disappoints. Her new EP “Lucky” is tremendous, so if you have not heard it yet, download it or stream it today. Kalsey Kulyk impressed the crowd with her new single “Bad Liar.” Maggie Baugh, who I had known about for a while but never seen her play, set the stage on fire. Her fiddle playing is something that sets her apart from other artists in town. Her new single, “Fire Me Up,” will do just that. The hits just kept on coming from Jessie G, who brought up Gretchen Wilson to sing with her. Only in Nashville is this a common occurrence. The host of the evening, Melanie Meriney, always impresses with her songs and her performance.
Thursday: Chicks with Picks, Chasin’ Melodies, and Joybeth Taylor
Thursday was the first full day of CMA Fest, and a full day of music for Undiscovered Nashville. The day first took me to The Local for an all-female writer’s round called Chicks with Picks. Female Music Nation presented the event, and JuJu Capogrossi hosted the event. Finally, I was able to see Hannah Ellis perform, which was the hightlight of this day for me. However, the other ladies were tremendously talented, as well. The host, JuJu Capogrossi, shared some of her sultry and sassy songs. Jessica Mack, Taylor Acorn, Jordyn Mallory, Taylor Edwards, Anna Vaus, and Abbey Cone were all incredible too.
Thursday night, I was able to catch Joe Dissmore at Chasin’ Melodies. Joe is a tough looking guy but sings some of the most amazing love songs. I like to call him the “King of Ballads.” Performances by Lockeland and JessLee highlighted Nashville Gunslingers at Live Oak. Lockeland is a trio featuring killer harmonies. I ended the night back at The Local, where I was able to catch Kyle Coulahan and Joybeth Taylor. I have seen Kyle all over town, but this was the first time seeing him play. Now I look forward to seeing him play again. Joybeth brought a talented band with her with George Washburne on lead guitar and Clayton Mann on bass. Her traditional sound can be a breath of fresh air for many country music fans.
Friday: Chicks with Picks and a Special Edition of Nashville Tour Stop
CMA Fest Friday began at The Local again for another round of Chicks with Picks. This day featured amazing songs and powerful voices. The standouts for me today were JuJu Capogrossi, April Kry, JessLee, Carolyn Miller, Julia Cole, and Avalon Kali. April Kry and Jesslee can belt it out, and their vocal range is tremendous. Carolyn Miller and Julia Cole played their outstanding new singles. Avalon Kali was a pleasant surprise as she was not on the original lineup.
Friday night took me to a familiar place with familiar faces. Nashville Tour Stop put on a special edition for CMA Fest. The 8:00 hour featured Aaron Schilb, Tyler Bank, Zayne Parmiter, and Colin Rowe. If you ever see these guys playing together, definitely go check them out. It is a fun time when Colin pulls out his slide to play “No Money,” a song Colin wrote with Tyler Bank and Ben Wilson. Aaron Schilb always gets the crowd into it with “Let Freedom Ring” and “Rock and Roll Degenerate.” Zayne’s music can make you laugh one minute and have you in your feels the next. Tyler Bank will make you smile with his uplifting tunes. The following two hours were talent filled too. Darbi Shaun, Paul Ivy, Nicole Miller, Alex Barnes, Clayton Mann, Garrett Biggs, Joybeth Taylor, and Clayton Shay.
Saturday: The Springs Fan/single release party and Radio SoBro Showcase
Saturday morning began at The Listening Room for The Springs, an amazing husband and wife duo. The Springs invited Aimee Walden, Emily Rose, and Theselands to play in a round before their set. Aimee and Emily were new to me, but I already look forward to seeing them again. The Springs celebrated their release of “Someone” with an almost sold out crowd.
The afternoon consisted of a trip into the heart of CMA Fest. Radio SoBro presented a band showcase full of talented singer/songwriters including Kalsey Kulyk, Nick Wayne, and Jimmy Nash. Radio SoBro is providing independent singer/songwriters with an outlet to play their music. If you are looking to find the rising talent in Nashville, keep reading my articles and download the Radio SoBro app.
The last day of CMA Fest, I went downtown to experience as much of the festival as possible, including the sunburn. I was bouncing back and forth from the riverfront stage and the Chevy Breakout stage next to the Hilton. At the riverfront, I was able to see Raelynn. The breakout stage is where I spent the remainder of my time. Love and Theft and Sweet Tea Trio were terrific, and their harmonies were impressing everyone in the crowd. The last act of the day was Austin Burke. I have been following his career for a while, but this was my first experience seeing him live. Sadly, he got cut short because of lightning. I predict Austin will be selling out arenas in the future.
I ended the week the way I started the week, at Nashville Tour Stop. Six hours of incredible performances in front of a packed house. The audience was engaged every hour, and the list of talented writers included rising talent and legends. The eight o’clock hour featured Brandon Will and Tyler Bank, as they each played thirty-minute solo sets. Ava Paige, Lizzie Cates, Steve Grauberger, and Dallas Remington set the tone for the whole night. Meg Williams, Sheridan Gates, Jenny Teator, and Jenny Leigh accompanied Adam Wakefield almost burned the place down with their hot performances. The rest of the night did not let the enthusiastic crowd down. Ryan Larkins and Daniel Neihoff amazed with their voices and their songs. Jan Buckingham and Robert Daniels are always fun to listen too. Aaron Schilb, Colin Rowe, Zayne Parmiter, Paul Ivy, Christopher Delisle, Ashley Taylor, and Ben Wilson finished off the last two hours of the night and my CMA week.
Looking forward to next year
CMA Fest is a great time to see the favorite stars of country music, but also the undiscovered talent in Music City. So I encourage you if you live in Nashville or just visiting, go to a writer’s night. We can’t wait to bring you the best rising talent that Nashville has to offer until next CMA Fest.
Undiscovered Nashville is excited about the months to come as we have been working on several things behind the scene. New logos and branding are in the works and some potential new partnerships. We have big dreams at Undiscovered Nashville, not unlike the singer/songwriters we have featured. None of what we do is possible without the songwriters and our readers. Thank you for your continued support, and please provide us with your feedback.