In conjunction with the annual Music in the Park concert series, a night of great entertainment featuring professional songwriters is on tap for August.
The first event of its kind in the summer concert series, Songwriters’ Night will bring local talent and professionals from Nashville to the stage at Stone Bridge Memorial Park.
“I’m excited about it and think it’s going to be a really great night and maybe even become an annual event,” said Paul Braden, president of the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, who pitched the idea of featuring songwriters in the concert series this summer. Braden, a musician himself with the band Highway 64, has reached out to friends and contacts in the music industry to secure the lineup for the special night set for Aug. 1 at 6 p.m.
“It’s going to be a good opportunity to see some really great talent right here in our hometown, free of charge,” Braden said.
Kason Lester, who recently appeared on ABC’s American Idol, is on tap to perform. The singer and strawberry farmer, born and raised in Lebanon, combines southern roots with rock vibes to create his sound.
Worley Max McKinney, who will also appear, is a native of Frankewing, and after living in Knoxville and Nashville, purchased a farm in Frankewing where he spends most of his time now. He started writing songs in high school, and after having little success pitching them in Nashville, started recording his own material in Knoxville. This resulted in having several local hits in the East Tennessee area where he also performed.
He moved to Nashville in the late 1980s to pursue his songwriting career and has had his songs recorded by Country Hall of Fame members Don Gibson and Conway Twitty, as well as Daryle Singletary, Moe Bandy and Linda Davis, among others.
“Your Unfailing Love,” a co-write with Glenn Warren, who will also appear at Songwriters’ Night, was included on the album “Love Remains” by Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum fame. That album won a Grammy for best contemporary Christian album.
McKinney is also a member of Highway 64 and has a new album out which will be available at the concert.
Glenn Warren, who moved from Missouri to Nashville in the mid-1970s to break into the music business, will also perform at the park. He worked at the Nashville Songwriters’ Association International for several years while pursuing his songwriting, as well as at various publishing companies in Nashville. His songs have been recorded by Randy Travis, Conway Twitty, Marie Osmond, Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley, Del Reeves, the Chuckwagon Gang and Hillary Scott, among others.
Warren has an album of self-penned songs which will be available at the Songwriters’ Night concert.
Andy Chunn is also in the line-up for the August concert. A Giles County resident and afternoon disc jockey at WKSR radio station in Pulaski, Chunn has been writing songs since high school and enjoys sharing them with audiences in live performances all over Middle Tennessee. He is also a vocalist and lead guitar player for the Southern Crossroads Band, which has played at the Lincoln County Fair, as well as Music in the Park concert series.
Local music followers will recognize Jim Rutledge when he hits the stage during Songwriters’ Night. The Fayetteville-Lincoln County native began playing guitar in 1964. He was a founding member of Fayetteville’s Grapes of Wrath band and Nashville’s Shadowfax Ltd. He attended Peabody College and worked at Nashville’s Exit/In whose acts ranged from Bill Monroe to Linda Ronstadt to Dizzy Gillespie and Kansas. During this time, Jim met writers and began writing songs.
Mentored by local music legend Col. Bill Trigg, Rutledge eventually became a signed songwriter at Muscle Shoals’ FAME Studios and wrote with other Muscle Shoals writers and recorded demos. TG Shepard recorded “In Over My Heart”, Rutledge’s co-write with Walt Aldridge and Tom Brassfield that reached #9 on Billboard’s Country Chart in 1986. He also had releases by Tom Wopat, “I’ve Been There”, and the Branson Brothers, “Go Easy on Me.”
Currently, he is focused on penning songs about growing up in Lincoln County and some of the unique events and sites here, including misadventures of youth, Tom King’s Rio Club, the Skylark Club and the “Stone Bridge Fell Blues.” He plays bass and sings with the regional group, Stillwater Bluegrass.
Another familiar face set to take the stage is Fayetteville’s Jerry Taylor, who has played lead guitar in the Fabulous Fifties Show for five years and in the Methodist Praise Band for 12 years. Taylor enjoys playing all types of music and says his musical influences are the Beatles, the Eagles, Tom Petty and Allman Brothers and most recently Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5 and Coldplay. He has played electric guitar for 40 years, playing with many bands in Nashville before moving to Fayetteville 12 years ago and marrying Jennifer Taylor, a local artist.
Taylor has a recording studio in his home, “Goldtop Studio”, and a publishing company with BMI, “Bucking Guitar Music”. He enjoys writing songs and co-writing with other writers, including Fayetteville’s Doug Gray.
“Music is so important to me because I consider music a universal language,” he says.
Music in the Park is presented by the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, in conjunction with the City of Fayetteville and its Parks and Recreation Department. The family-friendly concert series draws crowds who bring their blankets and chairs to enjoy a night of free entertainment, courtesy of area bands.
“It has been completely over-the-top successful this year,” Braden said of the concert series. “We’ve had big crowds each night, which is what we’ve been shooting for.”
Concessions are available for each concert, with Floyd’s Farm Food Truck and Kona Ice serving as the official food vendors for the concert series this summer.
For more information about Music in the Park or Songwriters’ Night, contact the Chamber at 433-1234.