On Saturday night, August 30th, Atlantis Resort provided country music loving guests with the greatest treat of all — the opportunity to attend a songwriters’ round at Ocean’s Edge on its spectacular property. Earlier in the day, Jessica Northey had the opportunity to sit down with all four songwriters who participated in the #CMASongwritersSeries event, host a live and interactive video chat with them and Courtney Kerr (of Courtney Loves Dallas) (available at Twangout.com), and get to know more about the talented individuals who amazed showgoers. We knew early in the day that the audience was going to love the personalities that sat before them, but we never could have anticipated the laughs, the tears, the brilliance, and the chill-inducing performances that awaited us.
Sharing the intimate stage was nineteen-time Number 1 hit song writer, Brett James; ACMA, AMA, CMA, CMT, and Grammy Award winner, Kristian Bush; up-and-coming superstar and Top 10 hit song writer, Caitlyn Smith; and eight-time Number 1 hit song writer, Bobby Pinson. Taking each songwriter in turn, Pinson kicked off the show and each round with his sense of humor and undeniable talent, providing nothing short of constant entertainment to the audience of locals and vacationers. Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of Pinson’s portions of the showcase was his parody of his own song, Toby Keith’s “She’s a Hottie.” “She’s a Fatty” resonated with the audience, as he affectionately sang about an overweight woman’s affinity for sausage patties. As a key writer in Toby Keith’s career, Pinson also shared with the crowd a new song he penned with Big Dog Daddy himself, which received a nod of approval from his colleagues on the stage. Rounding out his set’s highlights was the most impressive medley of all — a three-song parody of some of Sugarland’s greatest hits, dedicated to the very natural act of moving one’s bowels. Rearranging the lyrics of “All I Wanna Do,” “Already Gone,” and “It Happens,” Pinson sang the story of poopy cramps leading to an accident when he couldn’t get to a rest stop in time, explaining to everybody that “shhhh……it happens.”
Caitlyn Smith sat to Pinson’s right, and it was a huge feat to have to follow someone with a sense of humor, comedic style, and catalog as extensive as Pinson’s. However, if anyone was fit for the job, it was this blossoming songwriter who will be a household name in the blink of an eye. Smith’s most recognizable songs to date are Cassadee Pope’s Top 10 hit “Wasting All These Tears” and Danielle Bradbery’s “Heart of Dixie.” However, mark my words, these songs are just a couple of notches on Smith’s belt, as the best is yet to come for this insanely talented and kindhearted artist who is on the brink of notoriety. The absolute highlight of the entire show for this particular attendee, as well as a vast majority of the audience members, was Smith’s performance of a song that she explained would be on Garth Brooks’ new album. “Tacoma” tells the story of a person who hits a wall and knows it’s time to move on and away from a toxic person and situation. The emotional chorus croons: “Might make it to Memphis, that ain’t far enough. I’ll speed down the highway to Tulsa, Missoula so fast that the hurt can’t catch up. I’m burning your memory one mile at a time, all the way to Tacoma, by then I hope you’re out of my mind.” The song that is larger than life was no obstacle for the vocal abilities of Smith whose voice is a buried treasure just waiting to be discovered. The Bahamas crowd collectively grabbed its shovels, uncovered the gem, and rose to its feet to celebrate the breathtaking performance that Smith gave of this soon-to-be hit song.
Sitting to Smith’s right was half of the dynamic country duo Sugarland, Kristian Bush — a whole talent in his own right. We previously saw Bush perform at Great American Country’s breakfast during #ChevyCMA and were mindblown by his wide array of talents. Bush brought his flair to the island, sharing his amazing voice, expertise on several instruments, and songwriting skills with the enamored audience. Unlike the others on the stage, Bush is currently a solo artist with a new song that is gaining ground and the attention of country music fans. Bush performed “Trailer Hitch,” his recently released single, which is a melodic and comedic approach to the subject of materialism. Bush sings about how unimportant it is to collect items through life and worry about being rich because, quite frankly, you can’t take any of these materials with you when you die. Or, as Bush eloquently puts it, “never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch.” Bush also performed his rendition of Sugarland’s hit, “Baby Girl,” dedicating it to the talented young lady to his left, Ms. Caitlyn Smith, telling her she is about to hit superstardom. An audience favorite, the ticket holders sang along to the song that helped put Bush on the map. As Bush was about to bid the audience farewell for the night, Pinson called to his attention the fact that he didn’t sing his song “Love or Money,” which prompted the crowd to exclaim that it, too, wanted to hear the song that was left off the set. Bush obliged and closed his portion of the evening with the song, much to the appreciation of the fans.
Lastly, but certainly not least, was the “host” of the evening and largely decorated and celebrated songwriter, Brett James. James has nineteen Number 1 songs to date, ranging from songs cut by Brantley Gilbert to Kelly Clarkson, including two Number 1’s in his catalog that he penned on the same day. James has quite the variety of tracks to choose from in compiling a set list and he surely hit it out of the park with the songs he selected for this particular evening. In true paradise fashion, he included songs by Kenny Chesney, specifically “Out Last Night” and “When the Sun Goes Down,” which he appropriately withheld until sunset. James also performed Dierks Bentley’s recent chart-topper “I Hold On,” which he wrote with Bentley, explaining that he had been hoping to write for him for some time and when the opportunity came, he was thrilled to collaborate with this artist. Bentley had delivered the song seamlessly the night before at the Imperial Ballroom on the Atlantis Resort property, but James likewise nailed it, giving those who were fortunate enough to attend both events a slightly different twist on a very notable song. Considering the setting, James also fittingly chose to include his most recent hit, Brantley Gilbert’s “Bottoms Up,” as those in the crowd raised their glasses and, in a life imitating art moment, acted out the lyrics and tipped their cups back. For James, it is impossible to say that a certain song was a highlight, as his entire career is pinnacled. Simply having Brett James on the stage before us was a highlight in itself.
Atlantis Resort truly outdid itself with the tremendous songwriters it booked for this inaugural Paradise Music Festival CMA Songwriters Series event. If a country music fan could handpick a collection of uniquely talented individuals, this would be a flawless lineup every time. In fact, an overwhelming number of Atlantis visitors who were treated to this event dubbed it their favorite part of their musical experiences over the weekend, and with great reason. I encourage each of you to reward yourself with some YouTube videos of each of these artists and spend a little time familiarizing yourself with them; you will be unbelievably fulfilled having done so.
And to save you a little trouble, here is Caitlyn Smith’s rendition of “Tacoma,” which will appear on Garth Brooks’ upcoming album, scheduled for a Black Friday (November) release:
Also check out Jessica Northey’s Country Music Chat #CMchat Twangout video interview with the songwriters by visiting Twangout.com.
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