This past weekend Nora and I headed out to Purcellville, VA, yes Purcellville… which is west of Leesburg and west of Hamilton on Route 7. What could motivate us to travel one hour from our home in Bristow, VA to Loudoun County, you ask? Our good friend Nathaniel Davis invited us out to hear him play and sing some of his fine original tunes at an event I had never heard of before. It was called “The 9 Songwriter Series.” Our curiosity piqued, how could we resist supporting him?
The 9 Songwriter Series Show at Franklin Performing Arts Center
“The 9 Songwriter Series” is an invention from the mind of Justin Trawick. Justin gave birth to this idea back in 2008. He surmised that there was a lot of up and coming songwriting, performing talent out there that should be featured in the fine venues in our area. Only problem was that by themselves they would be helpless to draw enough people (even counting family, friends, neighbors, pets and ex-girlfriends being invited).
He thought what if I get 9 artists together and have them play 2 songs each and then finish with an encore song from each one of the 9 (27 songs in all!), a 2 hour concert in length and if each artist could get 20-30 of their aforementioned entourages then there could be 180-270 people at one of the shows. Viola! A big time showcase of sorts!
The idea has caught on so much that Justin’s The 9 Show is being featured all around our area including Annapolis and Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and just recently Los Angeles! Each concert will pull local songwriters together and showcase their talents. Cost to the concert-goer would be $10-15.
We arrived at the Franklin Park Performing Arts Center just before the show started at 8 pm. Entering into the barn-like facility we quickly realized there was something special about this place. The inside auditorium was state of the art. Two cameras were used to film the concert and project the live streaming video up on the very large wall screen behind the stage. The acoustics were excellent and there was not a bad seat in the house which I would say holds at least 200 people.
Franklin Park Performing & Visual Art Center
36441 Blueridge View Lane
Purcellville, VA 20132
Nathaniel started the show with the exuberant “Take Me Away” followed by “Hold On” both off his debut CD “Hold On.” On the 2nd song Nathaniel was backed up by the lovely Heather Mae on ukulele and vocals.
Justin Trawick followed. Justin is the consummate showman. His dry wit had us laughing out loud even though his first song was supposed to the product of a breakup. In direct contrast his 2nd song was quite poignant, bringing tears to our eyes. Justin played what may have been a baby Taylor with a capo giving himself a high timbrel sound which he muffled to producing a nice effect.
Heather Mae, renown as the woman who wrote and recorded a song a day for one year! Whew, now that is an accomplishment of talent and perseverance. Sweet voice and personality she had Nathaniel accompany her on both her songs. One on drums the other on Ukulele. Her song “Mississippi Man” about a guy from Missouri was a keeper.
Mathews Bryce was an excellent guitar player with a penchant for minor keys. Nathaniel played the Cajon drum on his first song. In 3/4 time Nathaniel’s accompaniment made the song mesmerizing.
Andy Hawk was memorable for his Cajun swing original that Nathaniel played the trap set on. I was ready for a surprise accordion player to come out at any moment.
Dan Fisk won me over with his “1,000 Love Songs” original.
Taylor Carson stood out for us the most. Taylor is a seasoned and natural performer with a unique and pleasing vocal. His songs were dynamic whether fast or slow and fun to listen to. His song about his friend’s love for his girlfriend was memorable. We purchased a compilation CD of his older material which is good but what I heard on stage his upcoming CD is what I’d like to purchase.
Crys Matthews, a lefty lady with a righty guitar played some nifty rhythms accompanied by a slapping technique for a nice percussive layer. A natural storyteller the words flowed poetically to our ears, reminiscent of Tracy Chapman (Fast Car).
Each performer came back to sing one song. Nathaniel had the other 8 artists come out to accompany him on a song of his with a sweet chorus.
The evening went by quickly and since the musicians played acoustic instruments the transition from performer to performer was smooth and seamless. All the songwriters had good voices, played well and there was not a really bad song in the bunch. No cringing took place! If a singer was not your favorite for one reason or another, no worry, two songs and they were gone swapping places with the next. Nathaniel was icing on the cake as he accompanied every artist on at least one of their songs. Of course Nora and I loved seeing him show off his skills, enhancing other people’s performances. He is such a gifted musician.
Since we were not 100% sure we would make it we bought our tickets on site. $12 beforehand, $15 at the door. Use your credit card if you are low on cash. You’ll need cash to purchase the artists CD offerings (Crys Matthews was an exception, it looked like she had a credit card attachment on her phone). Better yet bring lots of cash!
The evening was so enjoyable I found myself checking Facebook to see when the next performance would be in our area. Nathaniel announced that he had been asked to play in Annapolis the Tuesday after the concert. I guess they liked him! But weekdays are not good for us these days. Next event for “The 9 Songwriter Series” would be Saturday October 6, 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Quattros Goomba Winery in Aldie, VA., south of Leesburg on Route 15.
Just heard that there is a possibility for Nathaniel to be playing that one too! Count me in then!
Below is a shot of each artist not shown above. To see more photos of this past “The 9 Songwriter Series” concert, click on this link – Purcellville Franklin Park Performing Arts Center Photos