Show Reviews



Ashley McBryde, Thompson Square, Bobby Pinson, & more!

Monday December 4, 2023

@ Live Oak in Nashville, TN

(Review Written By: Jeffrey Kurtis)

As the holiday season begins its ascent to its heightened peak, so too begins the very popular, local festivities of the Nashville Scene’s Taco Week.

A rousing kickoff party at Demonbreun Hill hotspot, Live Oak, fused both sides of the season with a trellis of crafted opaque Christmas lights outlining the entrance to their Holiday Pop-Up Bar that melded into deals on handmade Taco’s and drink specials to match.

While it’s safe to say that both celebrations were very good reasons why the venue was so packed on a Monday night, the extremely strong layers of songwriter’s that Smash Farm brought to the stage is the winning bet on why everyone stayed glued to their seats.

With an already stacked lineup that contained such high-profile names as Bobby Pinson, Thompson Square, and Bridgette Tatum, Smash Farm teased during their promotion ahead of the event that there could even be some surprise guests still added to the lineup.

Truthfully, drop-ins at shows in Nashville happen frequently, but not often of the magnitude that happened during the second round of the night when the name Ashley McBryde popped up on the screen alongside Shelly Fairchild, Cheley Tackett, and Ellen Angelico, giving the already stellar night an additional dose of immense talent from one of the hottest acts on the circuit today.

As it was with each hitmaking songwriter throughout the night, the obvious hits earned the reactions from the crowd that you’d expect them to get, but when they turned to their personal favorites, the ones which Bobby Pinson said you’ve probably never heard, they completely hushed the otherwise rowdy atmosphere into a listening room type of murmur.

Humbly praising the talent on stage with her, and also gratefully shining light on her co-writers for the specific songs she chose to play, McBryde mostly allowed the music to speak for itself when she delivered “Single At The Same Time” and “Bonfire At Tina’s,” the latter which saw each of the others adding rich layers of harmony to the familiarity.

But it was in the middle of the crowd’s still stunned excitement as she opened her set with “Sparrow” that Ashley put on a foundational display as to why she’s so highly regarded, both as a songwriter and vocalist, driving her incredibly gifted voice straight into the heart of the lyrics to grip the intended impact of the song as each note expertly pulled the crowd further and further into her addictive aura.

In the round that directly followed, the gathered audience was drawn in by the witty personality of its ringleader Bobby Pinson, the artist of the poignant “Don’t Ask Me How I Know” and the songwriter behind several hits from the likes of Toby Keith, Sugarland, Luke Bryan, Randy Houser, and more.

With Dierks Bentley’s “Burning Man” and Eric Church’s “Some of It,” Pinson instantly engaged the crowd, sliding the raw edge of the gravel embedded into his voice against two of the recent hits he penned, pausing between takes to invite the crowd into the writing room while peeling back the layers of what it means to be a songwriter.

“Every now and then I’ll have a hit, and every now and then I don’t…but you never really retire from music,” he shared before later inviting us deeply into the story behind the amazing song, “The Shave.”

Prefacing with “I know this ain’t the type of place for a song like this, but I made a promise to myself that I’d never play a show without playing it,” Pinson touchingly then told of receiving the call from his mom to come and see his dad, his John Wayne, before he’d move onto his heavenly home, dedicating the song to his father, as he like McBryde with “Sparrow,” put on an absolute display of expertise in crafting a masterpiece that held the heartstrings of the hushed crowd with every new note he sang.

“It’s always weird to do these shows without Shawna,” told Keifer Thompson, one half of the hitmaking husband/wife duo Thompson Square, as he first delivered back-to-back hits to satisfy the itch of the crowd as they sang in perfect harmony with “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About” and the incredible #1, “If I Didn’t Have You.”

However, with a proverbial notebook full of songs, many which he told to be inspired by his son, his masterpieces didn’t shine through only the radio hits, but perhaps even more so when he delivered transparent tributes to his real life which the world hasn’t been blessed with hearing just yet.

Not one for many words of introduction, simply stating “I wrote this one a few years ago but it keeps coming ‘round in my head,” he then floored the late-night crowd to a total silence during an additional pass through the round when he closed out the hour with “I’ve Got A Man To Make.”

Playing off the age-old wisdom of making sure you’re always doing the right thing as a father because little eyes are always watching, Thompson perfectly crafted the tilts in his vocal to stunningly grab hold of the truth factor that as much as you’re trying to teach them to do right, they’re teaching you how to be right for them.

In the middle of any lineup that contains this much talent running through it, you naturally should expect the quality of the songwriting, the performances, and the connection factors to run at an all-time high as the songs use each specific line to grip you while the singer-songwriters utilize the dynamics of their vocals to enhance the tug on your hearts.

However, what this night also clearly demonstrated was the depth of camaraderie within the songwriting community. As each group of new writers sat center stage amid one another’s songs, soaking them in just as much as the attentive crowd, there was also a back and forth that saw each writer praising one another, illuminating their friendship and respect for each other’s talent while masterfully inviting the crowd into their circle of inside jokes as they too had now been welcomed into the family photo album.



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