Trace Adkins, Kenny Beard, Jeff Bates & Sherrie Austin at Tin Pan South
When the Tin Pan South schedule rolled out earlier this month, a few people had to have been scratching their heads over the round including Trace Adkins, Jeff Bates, Kenny Beard, and Sherrie Austin at 3rd and Lindsley.
For one, you have a consistent hit-maker but non existent hit-writer in Adkins. Then, you have two former artists that could appear in our “Where Are They Now?” feature (Bates and Austin). Finally, there was a good ole veteran songwriter in Beard.
But as the show went on, the connection became clear–all four artists have written together and have released (or will release) their handiwork in the form of co-writes. Here’s a breakdown of what each participant had to offer.
The two extended lines out the door and the middle-aged women with professional cameras can be blamed on Adkins. However, Trace didn’t receive any special treatment. He entered and exited with the other artists and held his own quite well.
For starters, he dug into the archives and pulled out “Rest of Mine”—a nice traditional ballad that he co-wrote with Beard. While the other writers bragged about their cuts for other artists, Adkins quipped: “I never had a cut I didn’t record…and I don’t give a shit.” Sure, Adkins isn’t a premiere writer/artist like Alan Jackson, but his material held its own.
This appearance may have been more of a “coming out” for the writer-side in Adkins. Of his three songs, two of them were co-writes that have yet to be released. The first, “Cowboy’s Back In Town,” (co-written with Bates and Beard) is the working title of Adkins’ next album. The song tells of a city girl longing for her cowboy—and luckily, he’s back in town. It’s not a departure from Adkins’ key material—and anything sung by him that doesn’t use “Badonkadonk” or “Freakin’” is going to be pretty good.
The second new song, which was co-written by all four artists, is called “If I Was A Woman” and will be a duet with fellow big man Toby Keith. Bates filled in for Keith and joined Adkins on a self-indulgent journey of “if’s” that comes off as slightly cocky, but all in good fun.
Austin admittedly “came to Nashville to be a female country singer, and ended becoming a male country songwriter.” Recently, she’s written songs for Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, and George Strait but has struggled to gain any traction as the recording artist. “He Thought He Was God (I Didn’t)” had the sassy spunk that contemporary female artists yearn for while “Friday Night Girls” was standard “girls’ night out music.” Her best performance of the night was on her Strait cut, “Where Have I Been All My Life,” which suggests that perhaps she is best suited for writing male songs.
Bates’ low baritone caught on to radio in the early 00s, but slowly submerged into oblivion. That’s unfortunate, because Bates is an excellent vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist. He and Adkins traded verses on “I Will Still Love You”—a simple ballad that is also slated for release on Cowboy’s Back In Town. But the standout song of his—and perhaps the night—was “One Day Closer,” an emotional pondering of life. If this guy never gets back on the radio, hopefully his songs find a way.
Guys like Beard are sprinkled throughout Tin Pan South and they are all awesome and all have a great sense of humor. For instance, before playing “Doghouse”—a hilarious John Conlee cut—Beard said, “Next to that last song Trace recorded, this is the second most stupid song ever.” Joking aside, Beard performed excellent readings of hits like “If The World Had a Front Porch” and “Stars and Stripes.” And given his recent work with Adkins, it doesn’t seem like Beard will go hungry any time soon.
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