Kelley Lovelace, Rivers Rutherford and Dave Berg at Tin Pan South

Pierce Greenberg | April 1st, 2010


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.

Rivers Rutherford

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.

Dave Berg

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.”

Kelley Lovelace

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.

  1. Vicki
    April 1, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Good stuff! Keep it coming. Although I missed a video of say Rutherford or anyone.

  2. PaulaW
    April 1, 2010 at 8:31 am

    I do love me some Rivers Rutherford. Though familiar with their works, I’ve not had the pleasure of hearing Dave or Kelley yet. I’ve had the good fortune to hear Rivers many times acoustically – and with a full band on a couple of occasions!)

  3. Pierce
    April 1, 2010 at 8:38 am

    This show was a little more standard than the night before… not too much straying from the norm. Still enjoyable though.

    I’ve been experimenting with the video aspects… and I’m not sure whether people really like that or not, but thanks for the feedback Vicki!

  4. Matt Bjorke
    April 1, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I like it when songwriters ‘stray’ from the most obvious ‘hits’ in their catalog as events like Tin Pan South or an average night at the Bluebird do make for great time to showcase new stuff or favorites to the receptive audiences.

  5. PaulaW
    April 1, 2010 at 10:38 am

    And so often the “strays” are much better songs (in my opinion) than the “hits” (although in Rivers’ case, I dont think I’ve ever heard him do anything I didnt like). ;-)

    The combination of writers and their familiarity (or lack of) with each other is a big factor in their interaction with each other and the audience, and the overall ‘entertainment’ factor of a writers’ round as well.

  6. Steve Harvey
    April 1, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Did Rutherford play Smoke Rings in the Dark?

  7. Rick (The Real One!)
    April 1, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Hey, aren’t there any songwriter showcases featuring all female songwriters? How about an Amy Dalley, Angela Kaset, Leslie Satcher, Angaleena Presley show! Now that would be something I’d like to see and hear…

  8. Paul
    April 6, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Dave Berg is such a great songwriter. I missed his acoustic show with Rivers Jan. 30th at the Bluebird, but I definitely look forward to hearing him sometime.

  9. PaulaW
    April 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Hey, aren’t there any songwriter showcases featuring all female songwriters?

    There are some Rick, but few and far between. Some guy usually weasels his way in there, LOL.

    I have seen/heard, and enjoyed, all the ones you mentioned though – just not all at the same time. Leslie is one of my favorites. Joie Scott, Karyn Rochelle, Lari White, and Amanda Martin are all fine writers/performers as well.

    But, it does often seem to be a “man’s world”. :-/

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