Tin Pan South celebrates 25 years
June’s CMA Festival may be the highest profile, but it certainly isn’t the only Nashville festival that celebrates music. For the past 25 years, Nashville has played host to the Tin Pan South Festival, presented by the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
The festival is a series of shows at various local venues featuring songwriters playing their hits and telling the stories behind the songs. We all know what musicians 'in the round’ is: now take the ‘round’ concept and space it out over five days and feature over 300 songwriters. It features a massive amount of musical talent and an absolute blast to see every year.
In preparation for the festival, Jennifer Turnbow, NSAI’s senior director of operations and the co-director of Tin Pan South, took some time to tell us a little bit about what this year’s event has in store.
“It is Tin Pan South’s 25th anniversary, so we’re doing more shows this year than we’ve ever done," she said. "We’re doing 100 shows over the course of the five nights! We’re going to do a few shows that are a nod back to our history. In the early years of Tin Pan South, they would do something called ‘The Legends Show.’ They kicked off the week with a big collaboration show with six or seven legendary songwriters who would each play a short set at the Ryman. We’re not doing that exactly, but at 3rd and Lindsley, we’re going to do an homage, if you will, to that legends show, with the legendary songwriters.”
This year will also feature a show at The Country Music Hall of Fame in conjunction with Tin Pan South. The Hall will start celebrating its 50th year on April 1st, the last day of the festival, so that show will bridge the anniversary festival and the Hall of Fame’s big anniversary year.
Some of the artists that have confirmed for this year’s festival are names we all know and love, including Brothers Osbourne, Jake Owen, Maddie and Tae, Raelynn, Ryan Beaver, Lucie Silvas, Craig Campbell, Kellie Pickler, Jeffrey Steele, Mac Davis, Kree Harrison, and more. Those looking for the songwriters will be pleased to see names like Brett James (“Jesus, Take The Wheel” for Carrie Underwood and “Out Last Night” for Kenny Chesney) and Tom Douglas (“The House That Built Me” for Miranda Lambert and “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s” for Tim McGraw).
“Throughout the week, you’ll constantly be seeing subtle looks back at our history. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish with our 25th anniversary,” Turnbow said. “I think you’ll see it consistently, night after night, with these ‘Wow’ moments that make you sit back and think. It’s going to be a big anniversary.”
She also confirmed that hit songwriter Shane McAnally will be performing this year. He’s penned several hits for artists like Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen, The Band Perry, and many more. He will be playing with longtime cowriter Josh Osbourne, along with their friends Matt Ramsey and Trevor Rosen of the new hit group Old Dominion.
McAnally is also a member of the Nashville LGBTQ community. He and his husband Michael Baum married in Mexico five years ago, but made it official with a ceremony solemnized by Mayor Megan Barry on January 20th, the same day President Trump was inaugurated. They were joined by their twin children, Dylan and Dash, in the Mayor’s office as they said their vows. He said on Instagram “On a day where we felt the weight of a divided nation, we chose to celebrate our freedom to love who we love.”
One of the great things about Tin Pan is you don’t always know who’s going to be there. A lot of times, you’ll see a songwriter there who is just getting started, but then goes on to make a huge splash. “One of my very first Tin Pan Souths,” Turnbow recalled, “we had Luke Bryan on a round. And Luke was just becoming a thing. He wasn’t the superstar that he is today. He was just starting to get some notoriety, and I hadn’t really seen him before… It would have been around the time of his first album. I remember feeling his stage presence and just knew in that moment that he was going to be such a big deal.”
Normally, the layout of Tin Pan works like this: Nine venues (The Bluebird, The Listening Room, Douglas Corner, Hard Rock Café, Whiskey Rhythm, Blue Bar, The Country, Station Inn, & Commodore Grille) host two shows each night, one early and one late show. Usually 3rd and Lindsley only hosts a couple of big, special shows in the latter part of the week. That’s going to change this year.
Each night, 3rd and Lindsley will host two shows in conjunction with Tin Pan South. This means that 10 venues will have 10 shows a piece. With the addition of the Country Music Hall of Fame show, that means there will be no less than a record 101 shows for the 25th anniversary festival.
If you’ve ever gone to the festival, you know that keeping up with who’s on when and where is the biggest trick of the week. This year organizers are making it a little easier with the Tin Pan South App, available now on the App Store and Google Play. The app allows users to create their own schedule and pull the shows they most want to see into an easy-to-use queue. The app will also feature exclusive giveaways to people using the app.
The 25th Tin Pan South is already being billed as the best festival yet. The rumors are swirling hot and heavy about some big surprises and some really big names in music. You can follow Out & About Nashville on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information. And you can buy your passes and find the full lineup, along with all the information you need, at www.tinpansouth.com.
Photo above: Kacey Musgraves (right) with Shane McAnally (at center), photographed by Jason Delkou