Show Reviews

Show Review: Jimmie Allen, Frank Ray, Abby Anderson, Alana Springsteen, and more!

 

NASHTN & THE SMOKING SECTION PODCAST PRESENTS:

Ft. Jimmie Allen, Frank Ray, Abby Anderson, Robyn Ottolini, Aaron Goodvin, Alana Springsteen, Neon Union, and Landon Parker

Tuesday May 10, 2022

@ 6th and Peabody in Nashville, TN

(Review by: Jeffrey Kurtis)

The Smoking Section Podcast, hosted by Marcus King and now running in its fifth season, teamed up with clothing brand NashTN, the creators of the popular “Nashville Looks Good On You” slogan, to gift the city of Nashville with an incredible night of live music featuring some of the top talents emerging on the country music scene today.

With a beautiful 80-degree night as its backdrop, a vibrant crowd began to pack into the outdoor area of 6th and Peabody at the Ol’ Smoky Moonshine/Yee Haw Brewing complex as the sun began its descent.

As the lawn chair styled seating and beanbag chairs along the grass near the front of the stage began to fill, spirited games of cornhole were being played as DJ JD set the mood by spinning and scratching through the country songs everybody knew and loved, and he quickly had the crowd singing along and dancing as they sipped their favorite moonshine  and craft beer libations.

With two amazing songwriter rounds scheduled in the middle, the night was bookended with individual performances from headliner Jimmie Allen, and opening act Landon Parker.

The last time I saw Landon Parker was at an acoustic show, whereas this go round he was backed by a full band which offered a completely new dynamic that brought a different energy level to the stage as he opened with “Love You Like” and immediately stopped the crowd’s conversations within their individual groups of friends and turned their attention fully toward the stage.

“Who’s drunk already?” Parker asked with a chuckle, that would grow into a laugh when screams from the crowd radiated throughout the outdoor venue. “Y’all sing this one with me,” he encouraged as he taught them their part of the song as he then played the ultra-catchy “Night Owl,” a tune penned by Old Dominion’s Matt Ramsay, which the crowd aptly sang along with as instructed; a clear-cut signal that Landon Parker had already won them over just two songs into his set.

With drinks raised high in the air, Parker shared a toast (and a big ol’ Yee Haw in honor of being on the complex of Yee Haw Brewing) with the crowd before explaining about his next song, “I was sitting on the beach one day and I had this guitar part, and I thought “hmmm that was pretty cool, I wonder what it could go with?” and then I saw this title saved on my phone,” he finished as he played “Caught Me at a Good Time,” a catchy, vibey song released earlier this year that got the crowd swaying along with its irresistible, float on the breeze groove.

“A few months back I released this next song as my first single,” Parker stated as the crowd cheered in response, before he taught them what parts they needed to sing with him, which they once again did as he played “Good Beer Drinkin,”a Friday night infused toe-tapper which also resulted in an audience participation moment into the final chorus as Parker led them in a rousing clap-along.

“I want to stop and give a shout-out to God for creating everything,” Parker said very humbly. “Six years ago, I met my wife, and God sent me her and now we have a baby girl,” he paused as he got misty eyed. “I didn’t rehearse saying any of this,” he confessed. “Our little girl is four months old, and I just want to thank God for sending her to us,” he gratefully concluded as he played a thought-provoking, show-stopping new song, “God Sent.”

“I’m just gonna blame that misty eyed thing on it being humid out here tonight, Parker said as he wiped his eyes as the final notes of the song played. “What do you say we have another sing along,” Parker enthusiastically asked as he once again taught the crowd their parts of the song as he played “Love Taught Me the Rest,” during which the Nashville sky was serenaded by the crowd lifting their voices up to sing out, “hey hey, hey hey!”

“How many of you have ever been drunk before?” Parker asked. “How many of you have been hungover?” he then asked, receiving minimal applause causing him to quickly observe, “there’s some liars in here tonight.”

“So, when you’re hungover you talk to God and say things like I swear I’ll never drink again, this is the last time, and I’ll be a good person from now on….but then you find yourself right back at the bar,” he finished as he closed his set with “Back at the Bar.”

Just as he did the last time that I caught his show, in just thirty-five minutes Landon Parker had completely won over the crowd as their cheers when the final notes played were deafening as they echoed through the nighttime air as he exited the stage.

FULL SET LIST 

1) Love You Like

2) Night Owl

3) Caught Me at a Good Time

4) Good Beer Drinkin’

5) God Sent

6) Love Taught Me the Rest

7) Back at the Bar

With a rousing, rock-n-country roll performance from Landon Parker setting the tone, the night then shifted into its first of two acoustic songwriter rounds. The really cool thing about songwriter rounds in Nashville is that as a music lover you’ll often get to hear songs in their rawest, most honest form while getting some of the stories behind them from the writer/artist themselves.

This round’s participants included Canadian country superstar Aaron Goodvin, on the verge artist Alana Springsteen, and Neon Union, the first black and white pairing in country music who were brought together by headliner Jimmie Allen and just recently made their Grand Ole Opry debut.

Aaron Goodvin used his 4 songs of the round to offer the Nashville crowd a glimpse into why he is renowned as one of Canadian country’s hottest acts.

Focused mostly on his latest release Lucky Stars, Goodvin offered the title track,  “Boy Like Me,” and “About Mexico,” a softer pace song that had the crowd swaying side to side with the melody and one which he also announced before playing was picked as a release by his fan club up in Canada.

However, the centerpiece of his performance was “Lonely Drum,” a song which got the crowd bopping along, has gone double platinum in his home country, took over the line dancing world, and that he hilariously introduced as being written because, “I was really good at getting girls not to come over to me; I was kinda known for it,” which he said with a laugh before gratefully stating, “but the first girl that did come over - I married her!”

Whereas Goodvin stuck to his already released material, Alana Springsteen swerved her portion of the round the other way and said from the get-go, “I’m gonna play some of my new stuff that hasn’t been released yet for y’all here tonight!”

“Do we have any tequila drinkers in the house?” Springsteen asked before admitting, “I’m a tequila girl myself, and I wrote this first song I’m gonna play about tequila. But it’s also about really good love and just finding that right person,” she finished as she opened her portion of the round with “Good Tequila,” a song which has really been resonating with her crowd at live shows over the past few months.

“I write a lot about relationships…recently a lot of break-up songs,” Springsteen lamented. “But I got my heart broken pretty bad and it sucked. But I did get some great songs out of it and I think this might be one of those,” she finished as she offered her heart-tugging next single “Trust Issues,” which she encouraged during its final notes to check out on all streaming services on May 13, 2022.

“This next one of is one my favorite songs I’ve ever written,” exclaimed Alana. “I’m not really an open book, but the only places I’ve been able to truly be vulnerable is when I’m writing songs and when I’m talking to Jesus…and that’s what this one is about,” she finished as she took us straight to a church with “Talking to God About.”

With the last song of her four, Springsteen connected with those who have been left with a broken heart when she explained, “every time I tried to write a song about this guy that broke my heart, I couldn’t….it was like, he didn’t even deserve a country song about him so that’s what I ended up writing about,” she laughed as she ended her portion of the round with “You Don’t Deserve a Country Song,” a catchy, kiss off song that she wrote with Mitchell Tenpenny that had the crowd hooting and hollering at all the right places while the perfectly placed lines struck all the chords they needed to so that it reached its intended audience.

“Fellas…if you got a lady and she wants something, then you better get it for her,” stated Neon Union as they opened their set with “Get You One,” before playing off Springsteen’s song “Good Tequila,” and delivering their own tequila song with “Tequila Communion,” a raise your cups up in the air type of song that brought the sway along groove and had the crowd invested in it as the sun set behind them and the drinks were flowing.

“We were walking one night in downtown Franklin, TN, and this guy behind us was talking to his girl. We overheard him say to her, “for you I would.” Well, our brains immediately went to work, and we came up with this one,” they finished as they played “For You I Would,” before closing the entire round with “Colors,” a much-needed song for today’s landscape about acceptance that the duo recently played during their Grand Ole Opry debut.

FULL SET LIST

1) Lucky Stars (Aaron Goodvin)

2) Good Tequila (Alana Springsteen)

3) Get You One (Neon Union)

4) Lonely Drum (Aaron Goodvin)

5) Trust Issues (Alana Springsteen)

6) Tequila Communion (Neon Union)

7) About Mexico (Aaron Goodvin)

8) Talking to God About (Alana Springsteen)

9) For You I Would (Neon Union)

10) Boy Like Me (Aaron Goodvin)

11) You Don’t Deserve a Country Song (Alana Springsteen)

12) Colors (Neon Union)

After amazing first round that raised the bar very high, the second songwriter round stepped up to the plate with a trio of artists/writers - each with an incredible following all their own - who all delivered in big ways and won the crowd over with each song they played. It seemed at times that each was on a friendly mission to challenge one another to step up while also knowing their lanes, staying in them, and knocking it out of their park with their individuality and unique styles.

With a very strong and enthusiastic fanbase on hand, Frank Ray kicked off the second round by embracing the Latin country stereotype that’s been placed on him, first by toasting the crowd in Spanish after teaching the foreign language to them so they can join in on the toast, and then by delivering the Latin flared “Streetlights.”

In a complete showcase of his witty personality, Ray sarcastically joked that “if y’all don’t know me, I was a member of the Mexican cartel,” before relaying the much more truthful introduction to his past when he said, “No, I was actually a police officer in Las Cruces, Nex Mexico before I moved here to Nashville,” giving a shout-out to those in blue and also to those in the crowd who back them,” before delivering what is inevitably going to be his next single with the memorable “Somebody Else’s Whiskey,” which although is a newer song that hasn’t been released yet, still had several of his faithful fan base singing along with its feels-good to be broken up with her lyric.

Abby Anderson even chimed in as the song ended with, “I want an invite to the number one party on that one” and we couldn’t agree more with her claims – the song is absolute banger!

In what would become an only in Nashville moment,  Shy Carter (a friend of Ray’s and hit songwriter) strolled onto the stage in a surprise appearance to perform “Heaven,” and instantly had the crowd singing along with the amazing song that Kane Brown rode to the top of the charts that Carter penned with Matt McGinn and Lindsay Rimes.

“I’d imagine that about 50% of y’all in the crowd tonight are artists or writers,” began Ray. “I say that because then y’all know how hard it is to come up with a song. We were at a writer’s retreat and just kind of sitting there in silence, not really wanting to write, or having any new ideas. But then Monty Criswell says, “I got an idea,” and I’m so glad that he did because we got this next song out of it,” Ray finished as he played “Late,” creating a tremendous audience participation moment when they began to sing along with the familiarity of the chorus.

With Robyn Ottolini strumming guitar and Abby Anderson accompanying on keyboard, while both also provided backup vocals, Ray closed out the round with “Country’d Look Good On You,” a song which he excitedly said before playing, “I just found out yesterday, that this one is sitting at #23 on the country music charts right now!”

Where every other artist during these songwriter rounds had guitars in hand, Abby Anderson was the only of them who sat behind a keyboard, which helped add a uniqueness to her performance by giving her songs a different emotional flavor.

With a heavy tilt toward transparency through her music, Anderson focused the first part of her set on “celebrating the rainy days for helping us get where we’re going” as she stated before playing her very powerful song “Insecure,” while also toasting to change because as she said before opening her set with “Even the Stars,” “the good kind (of change), the bad kind, and not being our old selves anymore…Thank God for that!”

While her first two songs sat on life’s tougher moments and working to overcome them, the second half was bent more towards relationships as she delivered “Where Did All The Cowboys Go” and “Make Him Wait,” which she played directly in continuation of sorts to Frank Ray’s “Late” and encouraged the audience before playing, “if you know this next song, then thank you… and if you don’t know it, then go and listen to it!”

“I don’t know if y’all have a mom who likes to give you advice about dating, but I do,” explained Robyn Ottolini who opened her set with an unreleased song, “Mama’s Ain’t Always Right,” before delivering the one that she said got her to Nashville with “F150,” which she described before playing as being about growing up in a small town where ¾ of the people drive trucks, and when one of those people broke up with her, she wrote a song about it.

“I had a great girl group of friends around me while I was growing up. We never fought or anything like that, but I realize now that not every group of friends is like that,” Ottolini observed. “So, if you have a really cool group of friends, then this next song is for you!” she exclaimed before playing the ultra-catchy “All My Friends Are Hot,” during which several groups of girls in the audience were excitedly singing along with while smiling and pointing at each other.

Diving away from her more current music, Ottolini then took us back to 2019 to close her set with the very popular “Him Problem,” which she introduced before playing with this wonderful redemption fueled revenge story:

“I went to a country music festival with my boyfriend at the time, and he left me…like right there at the festival for another girl,” she mused. “But now, I’m going to be playing that same festival this year and opening for Shania Twain,” she said with a smile on her face as the crowd roared!

FULL SET LIST 

1) Streetlights (Frank Ray)

2) Even The Stars (Abby Anderson)

3) Mama’s Ain’t Always Right (Robyn Ottolini)

4) Somebody Else’s Whiskey (Frank Ray)

5) Insecure (Abby Anderson)

6) F150 (Robyn Ottolini)

7) Heaven (Shy Carter)

8) Where Did All The Cowboys Go (Abby Anderson)

9) All My Friends Are Hot (Robyn Ottolini)

10) Late (Frank Ray)

11) )Make Him Wait (Abby Anderson)

12) Him Problem (Robyn Ottolini)

13) Country’d Look Good On You (Frank Ray)



Joined by his bassist and drummer playing cajon, Jimmie Allen sat behind his acoustic guitar and used his 45-minutes to allow the soulful flavor of his outstanding vocals to enhance each lyric while allowing his crisp songwriting to stand boldly in the spotlight as he weaved the audience through his biggest hits, some fan favorites and  covers, a new song he wanted to introduce, and few of his personal favorites from his modern country contemporaries.

“We have no idea what songs we’re gonna be singing tonight, so it’s just whatever pops in our heads,” began Allen. “This first one we’re gonna do, though, I wrote about a guy being sensitive and catching feelings,” he said as he began to strum the opening notes of “Make Me Want To” and immediately brought the crowd up to their feet and had them dancing and singing along with the #1 hit.

“I’ve got a new album coming out June 24th,” Allen excitedly shared as he was met with cheers from the crowd. “I want to try and play this new song from it for y’all here tonight, and this is totally dangerous to do so make sure you never do it,” he told, addressing the writers and artists in the crowd as he played “Be Alright,” a groove-heavy, positive blast which he explained before playing as being about letting life happen as it happens.

He continued cranking up the feel-good with the ultra-catchy collaboration he did with Nelly on “Good Times Roll,” while taking us directly to small-town Delaware where he grew up through “Big In A Small Town.”

In what would become another only in Nashville moment, Allen then brought Abby Anderson back to the stage to join him in an incredible version of “Shallow,” which perfectly accented both of their distinct voices and allowed them to carry their individual parts of the song, while Jimmie impressed by bringing his voice to falsetto highs during its close, which he quickly pushed right into “This Is Us.”

A very cool, vibey version of “Freedom Was A Highway” that really allowed Allen’s amazing vocals to be on full display came next, and as he sang the crowd through it’s outro, he ran it straight into “Best Shot,” during which he fused in snippets of his current country radio favorites including Dan + Shay’s “Tequila,” Matt Stell’s “Prayed For You,” and Morgan Wallen’s “The Way I Talk.”

“I’ve got a song out a country radio right now that I wrote about my father,” Allen solemnly said. “It’s probably my favorite song I’ve ever written,” he finished before he once again had everyone singing along with him on his quickly rising single “Down Home.”

Anyone who’s ever tuned into singing competition shows has heard time and time again how song selection matters so much. Jimmie Allen is the prime example of this know-how as he perfectly selected “Stand By Me” which allowed him to utilize all the strongest aspects of his vocal prowess to truly deliver the powerful message of the song that seemed to be tailor made for him.

“Before I go tonight, I’ve got to play this one more song,” said Allen. “My good friend Ralph requested it and he’s a big dude, so I don’t want to get beat up,” he finished with a laugh as he closed the night out with one more sing along on Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.”

FULL SET LIST

1) Make Me Want To

2) Be Alright

3) Good Times Roll

4) Big In A Small Town

5) Shallow (Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper cover)

6) This Is Us

7) Freedom Was A Highway

8) Best Shot

9) Down Home

10) Stand By Me (Ben E. King cover)

11) Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty cover)

 

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