A magical night of music unfolded in Music City on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 as the internationally-acclaimed online webcast Skyville Live presented “Skyville Live Salutes The Magic Of Music City” to a capacity live audience. This particular event was a homecoming of sorts for the cast of the television show Nashville who were celebrating the fact that their popular program was saved from network cancellation. Now redeemed the weekly drama is ready to reboot soon on CMT with new showrunners for a much anticipated Season 5.
Up first was the sly and sexy Charles “Chip” Esten who has been paying attention to the power of social media. It was thanks in large part to the rabid fanbase known as Nashies that the show was saved when all hope seemed lost. Through a variety of hashtags and hundreds of thousands of retweets CMT stepped in to save the day. So, it’s no wonder that the actor known as Deacon has launched a new Twitter campaign called #EverySingleFriday. For the foreseeable future the handsome leading man will release a new song to the digital marketplace every single Friday.
Esten was joined by his castmate Mark Collie for his first song “Spin The Wheel” – a rocking and hard driving track that they wrote together. He followed that with “Through The Blue” which will see its debut on July 15 as the first single of his new weekly transmission to the world wide web. The powerful piece opened with acoustic strumming that eventually reached a crushing crescendo courtesy of the superb Skyville Live backing band. We won’t be surprised if this thoughtful composition about overcoming hurt shoots through the roof when Friday rolls around.
Esten gave way to his niece on the series as Clare Bowen and her partner Brandon Young took the stage. Clare declared that it was good to be back in her “favorite city in the whole world” before playing a brand new love song she wrote with her talented fiancee in mind. Bowen said for the first time in her life she was actually performing and recording under her own name and we got to see a glimpse of her progress with her well-constructed tale of determined dedication.
“The show Nashville brought me here to you guys, but you all let me stay, and I’m eternally grateful,” Bowen said to the appreciative crowd. She kept the serious pace of her set in tact with “Learn To Love Again” a song written by her brother Timothy who she thankfully reported had just finished up a round of chemotherapy in Australia. Clare said she couldn’t wait to get back to the Grand Ole Opry to sing it with him again.
Bowen introduced Songwriters Hall of Fame member JD Souther who played Watty White on Nashville’s first season. Souther has written some amazing songs in his career most notably with Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles and he delivered two numbers made famous by both of those acts.
“I felt like a professional songwriter,” he said talking about writing “Faithless Love” describing it as the tune that set him on his way down the path. He played that for Ronstadt before dedicating an energetic version of “Heartache Tonight” to his recently deceased friend and writing partner Glenn Frey.
The amazing sisters Lennon and Maisy Stella started their portion of the show with their popular version of “Boom Clap”. Together the girls create a strongly haunting harmony punctuated by their own solo shots. Lennon is lovely and tall on acoustic guitar while Maisy is the secret weapon who provides a powerful punch when she injects her finely crafted vocals that are well beyond her years.
It was a pleasant surprise when Chris Carmack who plays the gay country musician Will Lexington on the show pulled out a Fender Strat and paid tribute to B.B. King with his second song of the night. His dynamic blues guitar skills surpassed anything seen so far on the little screen proving there’s a lot more talent under Will’s big cowboy hat than we’ve been led to believe. Carmack recently released his debut EP “Pieces of You” that rocketed up the I-Tunes charts and he offered up the stirring “Being Alone” from that as a song about “sacrificing the important things in life for what feels like the important things in life.”
“Skyville Live Salutes The Magic Of Music City” wasn’t all about the television show that has popularized Nashville as country music legend Pam Tillis did attest. Before playing her big hit “Maybe It Was Memphis” the two-time Grammy Award winner described how she has been a regular on the stages of Nashville for a long, long time before giving a shout-out to the casting people of Nashville for curating a world-class stable of talent who can both act and sing.
Another big surprise was provided by actor and musician Mark Collie who portrays the newly-villainous Frankie on the set. Collie appears to be the big winner with the renewal because he didn’t really get to spread his musical wings on Season 4 but you can bet he’ll be featured more prominently when the series moves to CMT.
Collie started with a nod to his friend J.R. Cash with an authentic cover of “Folsom Prison Blues”. Collie described how he followed Cash’s lead and he too plays concerts for the downtrodden behind prison walls. Mark joyfully reported that he started working on a documentary film about these experiences over fifteen years ago that will finally see the light of day this fall on the Blaze Television Network. He played a beautifully gritty spiritual rocker from the project called “On the Day I Die” that could fit nicely on a Springsteen record. His show-stopping performance left us wanting more Collie and more Frankie!
JD Souther returned to the stage to bring the proceedings to a close with the appropriate “I’ll Be Here At Closing Time” before the evening’s complete lineup returned for one final song. Since most of the performers that night were friends and colleagues – and since the series Nashville was saved by a vocal and fervent group of friends of the show – the choice of “With a Little Help from My Friends” was the perfect way to end a magical night of music in Music City.
Attending Skyville Live was one of the most thrilling experiences we have had yet in Nashville and the showcase not only offered an intimate and up-close encounter with the stars of Nashville but the lucky attendees who won tickets to the event were treated to free cocktails before and after the show in a close-knit networking environment.
Featuring the world’s greatest artists spanning generations and musical genres, Skyville Live is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for performers and audiences alike. Each episode is recorded with full HD video in front of an intimate studio audience in Nashville and live-streamed around the world. Thanks to its reputation for inspiring creativity and magical on-stage moments, the show has become a destination for the biggest names in music: Since debuting in January 2015, Skyville Live has welcomed artists like Billy F Gibbons, Cyndi Lauper, Kris Kristofferson, Jason Isbell, Gladys Knight, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Taj Mahal and many more.
Related Links: For more information on SKYVILLE LIVE and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links — Skyville Live | Charles Esten | Clare Bowen | JD Souther | Lennon and Maisy | Chris Carmack | Pam Tillis | Mark Collie | Nashville on CMT