I rarely go to songwriter rounds because many times, for every one great writer, you have to sit through 3 or 4 bad ones. The other night at the famous Bluebird Café was an exception.
I mainly went to see my clients The Stellas, and they did not disappoint, with their fun and tender lyrics and amazing harmonies. Every song was great.
There was another writer there whom I’d never heard before. He’s written hits for Steve Wariner, Brooks & Dunn, Patty Loveless, Josh Turner and many more. John Scott Sherrill is a 60-ish hippie/cowboy- looking character that made you wonder exactly what would come out of his mouth.
And what came out was amazing. You can’t call the man a great singer, and this round was NOT about the 55% (what the audience sees), because what the audience saw was 4 people sitting in a circle, playing guitars. John was only about the other 45%.
His lyrics tell stories that get into your soul…. so much of what country music is about. It will lose something in translation, but one lyric struck me. Among other lines and analogies, the chorus said, ‘that’s not lightening tearing the sky, that’s not the sound of angel voices…that’s just you, crossin’ my mind’.
Maybe reading that doesn’t hit you, but the way he sang it – or barely sang it. You could hardly see his mouth move (think Willy Nelson), but what came out was emotion and heart. It ran all through me.
And even though we enjoyed the other songwriters, when it was John’s turn each round, the audience visibly leaned in, knowing that we were going to hear something magical. The room got extra quiet as he skillfully played an interesting rhythm to set up what was coming.
In a humorous song called, ‘It’s Hard to be a Hippie Anymore’, he sings lines like, “the only thing I’m trippin’ on is my two feet, tryin’ to keep up with the times”. Clever writing.
If you’re a singer/songwriter, learn how to tell a story well with your lyrics and deliver a song using the right tone and emotion. But THEN, go after the 55%; make sure the audience has something interesting and engaging to SEE when you are doing a show.
Change things up onstage with the tools you use. Standing, sitting, moving around, switching from guitar to keys. Learn how to talk to the audience and how to engage them and get them to sing or clap along.
We can teach you this stuff. Check out our Tom Jackson Productions Bootcamps here: http://tinyurl.com/7l4egl one day event coming up in Nashville this July that’s very affordable. Nobody leaves these, sorry that they came.