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The Songwriter's Session at the Bluebird Cafe, Nashville

Saturday 18 January 2014
Songwriter Sonny LeMaire plays in the Bluebird Cafe
After spending the afternoon with song-writing superstar Billy Montana, we bumped into him by happy coincidence at the Bluebird Cafe. Actually, it wasn't so much of a happy coincidence - he was filling in for someone who was sick. So, great for us. Not so much for them.

During the afternoon, he had told us a little about how he writes his songs (up to 200 a year!), what inspires him, and how they take shape. We couldn't exactly ask him to play each one he referred to, so it was great to hear him play in his element.

The Bluebird Cafe is something of a legend. This is where the songwriters perform their songs, which have been typically sung by a different performer. Listening to them sung by the person who put pen to paper is an entirely different experience. There's less of the glitz, the shazam and the firework bikini tops, and you can hear the song in an entirely different light.

The venue itself is tiny, with plenty of patrons crammed into a cosy, glittery space. A series of light-footed waitresses run the room with an iron fist - there's no talking allowed. Hurrah! If only they could work in cinemas too.

There are usually about three or four songwriters in the middle of the room, playing a few songs together, a few alone. When I was there, Billy was playing with Mark Selby, Clay Mills and
Sonny LeMaire, who were in a band together years previous. Their songs were the kind that you desperately want to remember - a melody that sucks you in and grabs you by the shoulders.

Billy sang a few of his big hitters - What If I Was Willing being one of them (click here to watch my exclusive video footage of this from the writer's room). The TV show Nashville often films in the Bluebird, and the cast members have been known to stop by.

The other song of Billy's was Suds in a Bucket, a real country song which was performed by Kelly Pickler on American Idol. Earlier that day, Billy had told the story of how he was sat at home during the performance, when a frantic phone call alerted him to turn on the TV and watch his song being played. After flicking through the channels, he found Idol just as Simon Cowell raged that "there are thousands and thousands of songs to choose from and you choose some gimmicky rodeo lassoing whatever nonsense!"


After some choice words were spoken, Billy remembered the all important fact - that rodeo lassoing song brought the house he was sat in.

Bluebird Cafe
Entry to earlier shows is typically free, with the 9/9.30pm performances costing between $7-12. All shows have a $7 food/drink minimum, so get a few Hap and Harry's into you.


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