“It’s on Tonight,” the Chris Carmack, Charles Esten and Will Chase trio, is a really good choice for an opening number.It rocks, the guys look like they’re having fun performing it, and Chase (thank God) doesn’t do that cornball Luke Wheeler, hold-yer-hat pose at any point. I’d also like to point out Esten’s growly “a little dust on the bottle” backup line, because it’s pretty great.
Magic 8 ball, does hearing Carmack freestyle a little on “It’s on Tonight” backstage prime me for liking the tune even more than I usually do? “Signs point to yes.”
Hey everybody, it’s Nashville executive music producer Buddy Miller in the band!
I already knew that Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen have accents… so why is that all I can focus on while they reminisce about “If I Didn’t Know Better” with executive music producer Buddy Miller? “That’s a difficult song,” Miller says – mainly because Palladio probably has to wear his pants a size too small in order to hit all of those verrrry high notes. Fun fact: When they cut the Civil Wars tune, it was both actors’ first time in a recording studio.
Unavoidable truth: While Gunnar may be a dope from time to time, Palladio can do no wrong on his solo verses. Rock that falsetto, Sam. Rock it HARD. P.S. I love Bowen’s sparkly, Roaring ’20s-meets-hippie look, especially the headband.
I adore “I Ain’t Leaving Without Your Love” and think it was very smart of Nashville to include it in the hour. The harmonies! Random but worth discussing: The Grateful Dead could’ve covered this, “Good Lovin'”-style, no?
Note to Nashville: This song makes me care about Zoey. NOTHING else makes me care about Zoey, which is too bad, because Chaley Rose seems like a cool chick. More Gunnar/Zoey/Avery musical action wouldn’t come amiss, is all I’m saying.
Hayden Panettiere tells songwriters Sarah Buxton and Kate York that she has stage fright…
… which doesn’t interfere with her very good performance of “Nothing in This World” (RIP Jolene)…
… and which she apparently hurdles over by the time she’s back on stage for “Don’t Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet.” When Hayden tells you to put your hands in the air, your only question is: “As I wave them, how little should I care?” Also of great importance: Is that bob a fake-out, or did Ms. P really chop her locks?
Both Esten and Bowen note they’ve written songs on the side with “This Town” scribes Cory Mayo and Jaida Dreyer. “Reality and the show overlap so many times,” Esten says.
Confession time: “This Town” is definitely not my favorite Nashville number; the lyrics are a little too I’m-an-artist-oh-woe-is-me for my tastes. Bowen and Esten do a great job, though.
During an interview segment with songwriter Lucy Schwartz, who wrote “Black Roses” (and who accompanies Bowen on piano), Bowen says that performing “is like my favorite thing in the whole world to do.” She’s radiant. Her smile lights up her eyes, her whole face and the six blocks outside the Bluebird Café set. It’s nice to see someone so grateful for the opportunity he or she is given. (You taking notes, Scarlett?)
The special closes with “A Life That’s Good,” which is a very sweet song, and it works well for all of the performers (including the otherwise not-really-seen Aubrey Peeples) to come out on stage and sing it with songwriters Ashley Monroe and Sarah Siskind. But all of the jovial togetherness brings to light my biggest beef with the special: Where the heck is Connie Britton?
Re: the absence of Her Royal Redheadedness – I get that scheduling this kind of thing is a beast, and maybe Britton just wasn’t available. But perhaps some taped interview pieces, or a non-“live” performance with her and Esten (ooh, just the idea of a stripped-down “No One Will Ever Love You” makes me all tingly) would’ve been cool.
Ah well. Esten blows a kiss to the crowd, everyone takes bows, and we’re done. Back to the drama next week, y’all!</p>