This year marked the 25th anniversary of NSAI’s Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival. The Nashville Songwriters Association International has been fighting to protect the rights of songwriters and provide a home base to “educate, elevate and celebrate” songwriters since 1967. When the first Tin Pan South festival took place in 1993, it was spread across 5 venues in Nashville with only a handful of songwriters and the staff at NSAI who wanted to celebrate songs and the incredible writers who write them. It is safe to say that the festival has grown exponentially over 25 years to now include 10 venues, hundreds of performers, and a draw that extends out of Nashville’s bounds.
Tin Pan South is much like Nashville’s “SXSW” for songwriters. People travel to Tennessee from all over the world to hear some of the biggest songwriters in the world play the hits they’ve written, talk about the songwriting process, and share new songs they’re working on. Each night there are two showcases at each venue, one early show, and one late show. Over the course of the week, that makes 20 shows per night, for a total of 100 shows for the week of the festival. Guests who purchase a “Fast Access Pass” can jump from venue to venue, getting first priority access to the venue as long as the room capacity is not met.
The first night of this year’s festival was kicked off with incredible line-ups across all venues, but in one of the most surprising and exciting turns of the festival, Keith Urban showed up to Station Inn to join a ’round’ with Cali Rodi, Jordan Minton, Logan Turner and Ross Copperman. That is the beauty of having a festival like this in Music City – you never know who will show up! Getting to see these songwriters who have written all the songs we know and love from radio up close and personal in intimate venues really creates a special experience for anyone who aspires to be a writer or even has a deep interest in music in general.
The festival features writers from every part of the spectrum- from country to pop to bluegrass, and from hit-maker status to newcomer. It’s not only the Keith Urbans and the surprise guests that make this festival beautiful. One of my favorite moments of this year’s festival was at the Bluebird Café during the round put on by Still Working Music. The round featured notable writers Dylan Altman, Gordie Sampson, Ryan Lafferty and Tommy Lee James. About halfway through the round, Tommy Lee James invited 16-year-old Alana Springsteen to the center of the Bluebird to share a few of her songs. Springsteen recently signed with Still Working Music and got to share her songs with a new audience who were all blown away by her incredible talent. I watched everyone around me pull out their phones to Google her name as soon as she was done playing her song, “Over.” Moments like that are what make Tin Pan South so special.
This festival is one you should not miss next year- it is only going to get bigger and better. Fast Access Passes are also a must to give you the best shot at getting into the venues to see these incredible artists. Purchasing Fast Access Passes and attending this festival allow you to support an organization that is working tirelessly day in and day out to protect the rights of songwriters. It doesn’t hurt to get to hear incredible songs every night for five days.
To learn more about NSAI, visit https://www.nashvillesongwriters.com/.
To stay up to date on festival updates and 2018 festival information, follow Tin Pan South on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TinPanSouth/.