CMA Songwriters Series

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Review Date March 6, 2015

Review By Nick Dalton

Location 02 Indigo, London

Kix Brooks is everything you’d expect him to be a rabble rousing ringleader of the songwriting community, kicking off with a cheery, arm-waving10-minute ramble about how he’d never wanted to be in a duo. How he and Ronnie Dunn (no keener) were persuaded to join forces by management as, after the demise of the Judds, there were no country duos left. Within days they’d written what turned out to be two hits, including Brand New Man, and the rest is history. That’s songwriting for you, and that’s what this evening was all about, combining engaging tales of success with the chance to hear hit compositions in an unplugged, informal setting. It’s like being at a big, corporate Bluebird Café with more expensive beer. Brooks launched in with Red Dirt Road, the duo’s 2003 hit, then watched as Clark introduced Miranda Lambert’s hit Mama’s Broken Heart (written by Clark and Kacey Musgraves), then watched as Brit heartthrob Sam Palladio, he of Nashville TV series fame, joined in. They all watched as husband and wife team Alexander and veteran singer/songwriter Randall did their bit. There’s a lot of watching goes on in songwriter circles, a lot of approving nodding of heads; only when Alexander was singing was there a second guitar, with virtuoso Randall coming in. It’s thoroughly entertaining seeing competitors in the business of selling songs trying, in the nicest possible way to outdo each other. “Another Blake Shelton” says Alexander, “Dierks Bentley” counters someone else, Kix with his own hits, including a pre-duo solo Sacred Ground, later a hit for McBride & The Ride. Palladio plays his impressive self-penned number Wake Me Up In Nashville, perhaps a hit to be, as he hints of a solo album. Alexander plays the trump card with I Drive Your Truck, not only a mega hit for Lee Brice but also voted CMA Song of the Year. The procession is broken by and the appearance of frenetic duo Striking Matches for one of their wild acoustic-country-meets-Hendrix workouts. Kix looks genuinely startled but normal service is soon resumed. For all the talk of hard drinking it’s a civilised affair; the gang get three rounds in but that’s songs rather than shots. It’s enough, though, to give the feel of having been behind the scenes of Music City. Nick Dalton

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