Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nashville, Y'all!

Performing Writer Fillin' Station

A few months ago I submitted to play at a weekly singer/songwriter showcase in the Nashville area called Performing Writer. They were hosting a competition for a chance to open for Loretta Lynn. Essentially every week for 10 weeks they would, in addition to their regular weekly showcases, have three singer/songwriters perform a set, and those three acts would be voted on by secret judges and by audience members. Whoever won each week would then be submitted to Loretta Lynn's management for consideration to open. Well, the Performing Writer people really liked my music but ultimately decided that it wasn't quite the match for Loretta that they were looking for, so they declined to have me in the competition. But they did invite me to come down and play a regular showcase with them whenever I found myself in the area.

Then one day in March, I got an email from Cathy at Performing Writer telling me that one of the competitors had withdrawn and could I please come to Nashville to fill the spot in the lineup. The gig was about a week from when I got the email. Well, my first question was obviously, "I don't know. CAN I?" It seemed like such a great opportunity, but the logistics of it would be difficult to figure. But I put my faith in the universe and put my intentions out there and went straight to my amazing network of family and friends to see what I could do. Sure enough, I was able to make it happen. I got a plane ticket from some SkyMiles that my parents had saved. I found out that a dear old friend of mine from Mississippi was now living in the Nashville area, and I asked her if I could stay with her; thank goodness, she graciously agreed. But I still needed a guitarist to accompany me, and since I couldn't get any of my NY peeps down there, I had to go local. So get this: my ex-husband's best friend had a friend in Nashville who had a friend who could do it for me. And even better, this guy was also an accomplished uke player. Amazing, networking. I was all set! Goin' to Nashville, y'all!

Angie Atkinson Suitcase

Taylor Swift Throw
I was in heaven from the second I got to the airport. I loved all the country kitsch that decorated the place, along with the welcome announcements from country superstars that are piped through the sound system regularly. I was welcomed by my dear friend Heather, who then drove me to her amazing home out in Murfreesboro.

Murfreesboro TN
It was so nice to take in all that gorgeous farmland and huge blue sky. I love living in New York City, but sometimes I forget how amazing it is out there where there aren't so many tall buildings obscuring the view of all that gorgeousness. It was so quiet and so perfect.

I relaxed with Heather and her beautiful sons that night, and then the next day I went straight to work...literally. I hung out with Heather in her office for the morning and sent out social media updates and contacted all the other acts that were also playing at Performing Writer that night. I made sure to pass along my information to all of Heather's super friendly co-workers so that they could either come to the show that night or at least stay tuned so they could see me next time I was in town. Then Michael Timme, the friend of a friend of a friend playing uke and guitar for me, came and picked me up, and we went to his place for late lunch and a rehearsal. Michael was a real pro and such a joy to work with. He picked up my tunes very quickly, and after a couple hours of jamming, we packed up our stuff and headed out to the venue.

Performing Writer Fillin' Station
The Fillin' Station was just perfect. What a lovely little neighborhood treat! It was on the outskirts of Nashville, not in downtown Nashville proper, but it was absolutely everything I hoped for and more. The people there were just wonderful. It was so lovely to finally meet Performing Writer host Cathy after so much correspondence, as well as her cohost David (who, PS, has the most amazing hair EVER). I did a brief interview with Cathy, and then Michael and I relaxed and enjoyed some down time at the bar and mingled with the other musicians.

Kat Higgins Performing Writer Fillin' Station March 28, 2012
First up was a showcase act for Kat Higgins. She was one of the regular weekly showcase folks, not part of the competition, and I was glad for it, because my GOODNESS, what a gifted singer/songwriter she is! Her tunes were so beautiful and her lyrics were so thoughtful and evocative. Keep your eye on this one, kids. She's amazing.

Jordyn Mallory Fillin' Station Performing Writer March 28 2012
Then the competition portion began. The first act up was the delightful Jordyn Mallory, also a Mississippi girl. She was just a little slice of Nashville pop country heaven. She gave a really solid performance of three catchy confections. Always good to see another Mississipian shine!

Nation of Wealth Performing Writer Fillin' Station March 28 2012
Then there was Nation Of Wealth. These guys were just so much fun. They had actually reached out to me on Facebook before the gig, so we'd been bonding in the bar before the show. They're generally a much louder, harder rockin' band, but they toned down their fierceness for a lovely acoustic set that had me singing along by the end.

Angie Atkinson Performing Writer Fillin' Station
Photo courtesy of Performing Writer

Then it was my turn!! Michael and I were both really nervous, but with the exception of the "oops, forgot the capo" incident when we performed my single "Right Into You," we gave a really solid performance. It was just so much fun! Michael was great, and the audience was so enthusiastic. The Nation Of Wealth guys were dancing and waving their arms for me in the back. It was over before I even knew it, but I felt awesome before, during, and after.

Performing Writer Fillin' Station
Time to celebrate! Michael and Heather and I grabbed some dinner from the bar, including Fillin' Station bartender Patrick's very own barbecue, smoked in house. Oooohhh, melt-in-your mouth tender juicy goodness. How I love and miss southern food!! We sat back and enjoyed the other acts of the evening, the lovely Deeann Dominy and the soulful Jack Kapanka. Fantastic performances from both!

Ultimately my Okolona girl Jordyn won the Loretta Lynn competition for the week, but I wasn't surprised. She was just great. Congrats, girl! I'm sure we'll rock out again soon.

But even though I didn't win the competition, I felt like I won the trip. I made so many new friends and got reacquainted with old ones. I got to be back in the dirty South and taste all of its sweet air, beautiful colors, and delicious flavors. I bought kitschy gift shop treats and stocked up on plenty of stories to tell all my friends back home. I even had the treat of sitting next to the guitar tech for one of my idols, Grace Potter, on the plane ride home! A total win from start to finish.

Angie Atkinson Nashville

So even though playing Nashville can officially be crossed off my bucket list, I can't wait to go back. Keep it warm for me, y'all. I'll be seeing you soon.

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