CMA Songwriters Series, October 2017
The CMA songwriters Series has been a firm favourite here in the UK for many years now and it’s lovely to see it return to the UK for the second time this year.
As always, they put on a Steller line up and this time we were treated to Randy Houser as host, UK favourite Angaleena Presley, Michael Tyler and Eric Paslay. The venue was Shepherds Bush Empire and I wasn’t sure how the venue would translate to an intimate night like this. It’s the first time I’ve been seated there and it really gave you time to apricate the beauty of the venue.
As always at these rounds, the host Randy introduced everyone before kicking things off. I had seen Randy rocking out with a band the night before and I was left wanting more of that however; with a vocal as strong and rich as Randy’s to hear him sing acoustically was a real treat. Angaleena was up next but was having real problems with her guitar. It was at this point Eric joked what a great way to start his first show in London. The sound engineers tried to sort it out but in the end Randy lent her his guitar to use. She joked that she was here to break up the sausage fest then kicked off her part with ‘Bless Your Heart’. Michael Tyler then took his turn; Michael is an accomplished writer even at his young age and has just started recording his own music. He told the crowd this this was his first time outside the States which I think instantly endeared him to many. He kicked this off with a song he wrote and loved, but Jason Aldean asked him for it so naturally he let Jason have it rather than record it himself. Eric’s turn next and he said this is the first song of mine ever to be played in the UK. You could tell this moment was important to him before singing his self-penned song and Lady Antebellum hit ‘Friday Night’.
Back to Randy again, his song was ‘Our Hearts’ which he wrote about his wife. A moving song delivered with such tenderness. Angaleena then proceeded with her cute and humorous song ‘Better Off Red (Redneck)’. Michael’s song was a new one ‘If I Were Your Man’. Eric then said how much he loved it here and planned on coming back a whole bunch after this. His song was ‘She Don’t Love You She’s Just Lonely’. This was one of those hear a pin drop moments!
Randy then said he’d played the next song ‘High Time’ the evening before and he broke 2 strings. Angaleena joked he couldn’t do that as they only had 1 guitar between them. Angellena talked about being in the Pistol Annies and how they wrote a lot of songs about Husbands leading to the song ‘Unhappily Married’ which got a laugh from both the crowd and everyone on stage. Michael then told the story of how his Mum had said if they ever needed a ride to call her, so his brother took her up on that, called her at 3am drunk to tell his mum he’d met the girl he was going to marry! His mum rolled her eyes and said, “call me when your sober”. Well he married the girl so Michael wrote the song ‘Hey Momma’. For such a young guy with no experience outside his country he really held his own and spoke confidently to everyone.
Eric then started ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night’ stumbled on the first word and joked it was so quiet that it was freaking him out. He started his intro again and everyone laughed. He got the crowd singing along and looked totally relaxed. Randy then talked about his first No.1 hit he wrote, ‘Goodnight Kiss’. He said he was lucky because he got to sing it too he then giggled. Randy has the most infectious giggle!
Each continued to tell fascinating stories; from Angaleena talking about Guy Clarke and Michael telling the amazing story of how managed to get Jason Aldean’s manager’s attention by sending him a cheeky message on myspace! Randy told a story in which had the crowd laughing out loud about how he needed a vacation and had to take his soon to be ex-girlfriend with him.
Getting to the final round we had ‘Like A Cowboy’ from Randy to which everyone was blown away by his outstanding vocals.
I have to say this was one of the strongest round’s vocally. They all held their own and as always, it’s wonderful to hear the amazing stories of how they came from struggling songwriters to having No.1 hits under their belts, it’s an inspiring and fascinating insight to their lives. The perfect way to kick off Country Music Week!