Kelley Lovelace, Rivers Rutherford and Dave Berg at Tin Pan South
Turn on the radio at any time in the past half-decade and chances are that a song written by Kelley Lovelace, Rivers Rutherford, or Dave Berg will be on. Those three writers have more hits to their credit than some baseball players.
Last night at the Hard Rock Café, each songwriter showcased their individual talents—which all varied—as part of the Tin Pan South Festival.
From the start, it was clear that Rutherford was the star of the show—and subsequently, the most talented. His guitar expertise brought to life otherwise average written songs like “If You Ever Stop Loving Me” and “Livin’ in Fast Forward.”
Rutherford’s Memphis roots showed proudly as his raspy howl turned “Real Good Man” into a bluesy pleasure. But his song selection wasn’t solely restricted to radio hits. A new song called “Heaven’s Up To Something” was a soulful, introspective pondering of life’s bigger plans.
Berg deserves extra points for straying from his hit-list. He exuded West Coast coolness on “Three Perfect Days”—an abstract tune about meeting a girl that is probably not recordable due to its jerky structure. Berg returned to the heartland matters with “That’s Good, That’s Bad”—a lighthearted drinkin’ song that could very well be a hit.
As far as the hits go, Berg gave unique treatments to “Don’t Make Me,” “Moments,” and “What Kinda Gone.” But his best performance was also his favorite non-cut—a song called “One Can Be A Lot.”
While the other two writers leaned heavily on musicianship and vocal ability, Lovelace lacked both qualities. But what he lacked in musical styling, he made up for in humor—which doesn’t make it a surprise that he is closely associated with funny man Brad Paisley. “All-American Girl” and “Start a Band” both sounded bland coming from Lovelace—and even a Rutherford solo couldn’t save the latter.
But big laughs finally came on a co-write with Luke Bryan and Lee Miller called “Can I Make Love With My Shirt On”—a tongue-in-cheek jab at obesity.
Overall, the round was pretty much what one would expect from three A-list writers: lots of hits, some top-notch talent, and a few good laughs.
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