Our most important show to date at the Joe Thomas Jr. Cloverdale Playhouse Theater Songwriter’s Guitar Pull is happening on Tuesday night April 26th, 2016. The show will mark our Fiftieth consecutive monthly show.

          Joe Thomas, Gini Thomas (Joe’s gorgeous wife) and Greg Thornton created this event which debuted on March 20th, 2012. I got to share the stage that first night along with Joe Thomas Jr., Michael Thornton and Jonathon Tew.

          We were all nervous not knowing what to expect. At that time there was not a songwriter’s event of this type in a listening room environment being held in the city of Montgomery, Al. where Hank Williams Sr. called home and is buried.

          The audience was between seven and thirteen people that first night, (thirteen is the optimistic number) not exactly standing room only. There was no guarantee for the performers.

          Transformative aptly describes what that experience was for all of us that evening. To perform songs you write in front of an audience held in rapt attention and focusing on nothing but you and your song was a bit disconcerting the first time I performed there. I was and still am used to competing with TVs in bars, smart phones and many people who don't acknowledge your presence. That first event is what spawned my COMMIT TO THE SONG philosophy.

          The Theater was created in an historic church making for phenomenal acoustics emanating from a stage which is ideal for both its vocal performances and the plays held there.

          There was no way to know then that in less than five months we would be mourning the death of Joe Thomas Jr. on August 12th, 2012. Joe was killed and his wife Gini was severly injured eventually leading to the amputation of her leg when a careless driver ran a stop sign and hit their motorcycle on a Montgomery street.

          We all suffered but one week later we had the next monthly show as scheduled. And we have continued to do so every month.

          Each show consists of three songwriters on stage singing the songs they write and telling the stories behind them.

          What began as a handful of listeners in the audience supporting four local songwriters has evolved into crowds every month of at least fifty patrons sometimes swelling to eighty or one hundred coming to enjoy the show.

          Songwriters from all over the country now come to perform there on the third Tuesday of every month. We have had Grammy winners performing alongside local artists who have never played outside of Montgomery. From New York, Nashville, New Orleans, Atlanta and many other music centers as well as tiny towns many have never heard of, songwriters come to tell their stories on that stage through music.

          The Joe Thomas Jr. Songwriter’s Night evolved into something much bigger than one person or one song or one venue.

          There is an old show business saying that goes like this. “I don’t know what IT is but whatever IT is, that person has IT.” The phrase is used to describe an intangible quality making for greatness which is impossible to quantify.

          That phenomenon is the essence of what happens the third Tuesday of every month at The Cloverdale Playhouse Theater in Montgomery. Yes, the performers, their music and their songs are outstanding but there is something much more to the experience one can only understand after being there.

          Everyone who walks through the door, whether they are sitting in the audience, taking the pictures, selling the tickets, working the sound, tending the bar or performing, becomes part of an event where the sum total of all the parts adds up to something much larger than any individual part.

          Music world legend Stephen Allen Davis wrote his first hit song at seventeen years old for Percy Sledge in 1968, ‘Take Time to Know Her’. He went on to write hit songs for more people than I can name and continues to create works of art with words and music as I am typing this. I’ll throw Frank Sinatra, Joe Cocker and Jo Dee Messina out there to name a few. Messina's 'Stand Beside Me' written by Stephen has been played on the radio over five million times and still counting.

          Stephen was kind enough to welcome me into his world years ago and has taught me more about creativity and life than a hundred books could hold. Of all the lessons he has taught me, one stands out in my mind and I thought of it as I was sitting down to type this story. It changed what I wrote about.

          On March 15th, 2016 I performed for the forty-ninth consecutive Joe Thomas Jr. Guitar Pull kicking off the fifth year. Just as the first show I participated in there changed my life so did the one last week. I planned to write about that experience then remembered what Stephen taught me about writing songs and realized that it applied to our songwriter’s night as well. 

          “The most important song you write is always the next one.”

 

          And so in that context, the show on Tuesday April, 26th is the most special one we have put on in the entire series. Then we will wake up the following morning looking forward to the best event we will ever have at the Joe Thomas Jr. Cloverdale Playhouse Guitar Pull, THE NEXT ONE.

         

         

         

         

         

         

          

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