Well I must say this every year but I am convinced that to be a successful songwriter you have to also be a comedian! The five writers tonight had the audience in uproar and made light of some of the serious topics affecting both the UK and US. As for the actual songs, well it was hit after hit after hit! Cam kicked off things with the anthem Diane, and right from the off the audience and the other songwriters were awestruck by her powerful vocals. Then the lovely Laura Veltz played her first song, she was a little overwhelmed by the crowd when they put the lights up and she realised how many people were there but she spoke of how this song, Drunk Last Night, recorded by Eli Young Band came about with co-writer Josh Osborne and many of the crowd sang along. Then Travis Denning who had already chipped in a few times already with witty comments played his first song, his latest single After A Few. Over to Jimmie Allen who began by joking about his very skinny jeans but proceeded to play American Heartbreaker off his record Mercury Lane.
Ross Copperman completed the first round and each and every round he brought up politics as a couple of them had been to Parliament in the day and had been sightseeing. Fascinated by the amount of people we used to behead in this Country and debating who has it worse (politics wise!) the US or the UK, Ross had the crowd giggling and interacting back every now and again when it came to Donald Trump and Brexit. He kicked things off with the smash hit he wrote with Matt Jenkins and Josh Osborne for Kenny Chesney and Pink - Setting the World on Fire. Back to Cam who put on her best British accent to impersonate Sam Smith whilst telling us the story behind the next song Palace which she co-wrote with and for Sam. As Laura said it's an aesthetically pleasing song, almost like you've heard it before on first listen. Laura, a staff writer in Nashville who just writes for other people, has had a number of cuts on Maren Morris' record (and her new record which is out now!) talked about Rich and how at first they had tried to fit as many swear words as possible into the song. Laura stopped playing halfway through to tell us that on the record the "Kerching kerching" is actually her.
Her World Or Mine recorded by Michael Ray was Travis' next choice and he spoke of how the day he wrote that, on his birthday he almost cancelled the write to go and party in Chicago with a friend who was touring there but it ended up being one of his favourites. After all the jokes it was nice to hear this vulnerable, tender side although he still ended the song with a joke! Jimmie had been asked if Abby Anderson was there tonight and if he'd sing Shallow, he began the first verse and stopped and said that's all your getting before playing Make Me Want To. After another politics discussion Ross played John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16, and changed the last chorus (after some debate) to John Lennon, Mary Poppins, Elton John, John Cleese to cater for the UK crowd. Then Cam introduced her favourite UK Country artist Ward Thomas who won a CMA Award on stage and were put on the spot to play a song. They settled on Cartwheels and both huddled round Cam's mic.
Cam then sang one of her earliest songs My Mistake, her vocals throughout the night were flawless. I also really like the vocal effects they put on the mics at the songwriters they always have a really nice delay. Then Laura spoke of how she puts a little of her own experience into every song but this next song was completely her own experience and it was on hold for some time by Carrie Underwood who chose not to cut it but it had ended up being recorded by Kane Brown which Laura was very excited about and then she played it, the love song, Live Forever. Travis Denning showed off his guitar skills in the next song Snakes and Needles which he wrote with Devin Dawson, it was a slightly more rock infused Country song but I loved the harmonics he played in the guitar riff.
Back to Jimmie Allen who decided to strip it back a bit and play a slightly more emotional song. He spoke of his Gran who passed away back in 2014 and how he always carries her scarf with him when he performs and he spoke of his mum before playing the very beautiful Warrior. Sticking with the meaningful songs Ross, who had just got a text off his wife telling him to shut up about politics, played a song he wrote about her with Dierks Bentley and Josh Kear, another hit, Woman Amen. All five writers were very good vocalists as well. On to the last full round and Cam decided to share a brand new song that she'd written with the great Lori McKenna, Forgetting You When I'm Alone. There are some clever lyrics in it, which is inevitable with two great lyricists like Cam and Lori working together!
Then Laura talked about a song that will keep her in business even if she never writes again, the number one smash hit for Dan and Shay Speechless, one of the most popular wedding songs of last year. As Laura talked of its success Cam asked how many awards had it won to which Laura replied none... yet, which surprised Cam and the rest of the audience! Comedian Travis Denning finished on David Ashley Parker from Powder Springs, his first top forty single which he wrote with Jessi Alexander and her husband Jon Randall. He spoke of the true story behind it, of finding someones ID and using it when he was under age in the States. However first Jimmie made him do the Smirnoff Ice challenge they do a lot in the States and he had to down a full cup of Smirnoff Ice which he did centre stage.
Jimmie Allen ended on his biggest hit Best Shot, after singing perhaps the first verse he suddenly said he'd be back and darted off stage. His guitarist kept playing throughout a long pause and suddenly Jimmie was up on the balcony singing and walking through the crowd up there. Ross Copperman finished on a big hit he had with Kenny Chesney which again he co-wrote with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, Get Along. The crowd once again knew all the words. It was the end of the round and Cam concluded on Burning House, the audience, with encouragement from Jimmie Allen got to their feet and held their phone lights in the air as we all sang along. Jimmie asked Cam about three times to sing the last chorus again as we all stood wonderstruck by her vocals.
They took their bows and some had time to sign a few autographs as the audience stayed on their feet to applaud and cheer. What a start to the C2C weekend! More photos to come soon!