Show Reviews



Mae Estes, Jeff Middleton, Tori Tullier, & Jacob Rice

Friday March 31, 2023 (6PM Show)

@ Commodore Grille in Nashville, TN

(Review by: Jeffrey Kurtis)

The Commodore Grille is a longstanding, very special stage within the heartbeat of the Nashville songwriting community. It's often the first place that a new songwriter arriving to town will play, and it’s where they'll return to test out their newest material as they're climbing the ladder and making their way.

On a Friday night when the threat of terrible weather loomed large over Nashville, the venue still packed in with music enthusiasts ready to hear a healthy offering of great songs.

Tori Tullier led the charge of each round with piano laden, thought-provoking songs such as "Baby Steps" and "Songbird," while Jeff Middleton had everyone providing harmony on "Steal You Away," embraced the spirit of Tin Pan South with the pure songwriter song "Deep Cuts," and earned a huge ovation with Jason Aldean's #1 smash, "Drowns the Whiskey."

Jacob Rice had the extremely tough task of having to fill in for originally scheduled writer Justin Klump, who's children attended the school at the center of the recent tragedy that shook Nashville’s core. After letting everyone know that Justin and his family were safe, Rice asked that we not only keep his good friend Justin and his family in our thoughts, but also everyone who was affected.

“When Justin asked me to fill in for him tonight, he asked me to provide the round with some fun and joyful tunes that would help lift the spirits,” a promise that Rice would keep as he had the crowd moving with “Getting Country with Me,” “Picture This,” and the Bruno Mars inspired bop, “How A Man Treats A Lady.”

But the spotlight shining performance arrived through Mae Estes, one the scene’s strongest emerging talents who has recently released her EP Before The Record and made her debut in the circle on the hallowed stage of the Grand Ole Opry.

"This is my first time to ever play Tin Pan South and I feel really lucky to be here,” Estes said gratefully. “It's been a very emotional week for all of us and I'm a blubbering mess…I’m not gonna lie," she solemnly shared, referring to the tragedy that struck Nashville earlier in the week. “But music is my medicine and I hope that we can all find some healing in it tonight,” she encouragingly said to a huge ovation. 

“I'm gonna shift out of the sad, sappy mood that I've been in, and I’m gonna go full on angry, bitter women,” she exclaimed as she hit the opening notes of “Roses,” immediately introducing the audience to her traditional country inspired style while perfectly moving her vocal through all the emotional hits of the lyrics, cleverly using the visuals of roses spread throughout her house as the reminders of all the mistakes that he's continually made that he thought buying her flowers would fix.

Telling of the overwhelming feeling of getting to play “Thinkin Bout Cheatin” on the Opry stage, she injected The Commodore with a throwback vibe that immediately transported us back to an era of black and white photos at the Ryman, embodying the spirit of the incredible artists who paved the way through her own signature song which truly allowed her to present a composition that sounds like a lost piece of country music’s golden era.

"Make Babies" saw Mae dive into a deeper cut and pull us through the heart tugging lessons learned that came from bearing witness to toxic relationships, while “Naked” satisfied a request from one of her biggest supporters while also showing off her incredible songwriting prowess as she used the idea of stripping off everything, essentially getting "naked," to wrap around the idea of exposing all your scars, bumps, and bruises to that one someone who has you completely falling.

After plugging one of her favorite songwriters, Dennis Lindsey, Estes dropped into a gritty, swampy riff that allowed her voice to impressively hit it's lower register as she weaved through "Go Bobby Go," before then punching into her higher tilt where she’d lead a rousing scream along with the crowd, enticing them to show off their rowdier side.

“Thank you for being here tonight and really listening to the songs. That means so much to all of us," Mae very appreciatively said as she closed with "Run," delving into the slow groove of the rhythm to get everyone swaying their shoulders as she left a lasting impression with her ultra crafty songwriting, amazing vocals, and perfect fusion of what's here and now with the classic roots of country music within her attractive neo-traditional style.




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