So last Thursday was the benefit show for my friend, local Nashville musician Chris Tapp, and Cold Stares guitarist and singer Chris Tapp.
It was a magnificent night. We had a full venue, a ridiculously talented lineup of artists, and a house band that meshed with each act like they’d been playing together for years. It was a little surreal at times to watch, then remember back to just a few months ago when we came up with this idea over drinks at the Irish bar down the road.
Jamie Kenney, a producer, songwriter, musician and enormously gifted guy put the band together. Jamie and the great singer/songwriter Matthew Perryman Jones assembled the talent. We also got some great auction donations from the Nashville Opera, Merchants restaurant, Nashville designer Manuel, Dave Johnson photography, and others. We raised a nice little sum of money for Chris, mostly due to the time and talent of people who have never met the guy. That says a lot about this town.
The surprise of the night was 80s pop star Tiffany. First I guess that she showed up. She’s a cancer survivor, and asked to play when she heard about the event. The second surprise—and I mean no disrespect by calling it a surprise—is that Tiffany can wail. She started off with a righteous cover of Etta James, then closed the night with the finale, along with some backing from the night’s other artists. The song was Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” It was grand.
Here’s a rough video of her performance of “Sunday Kind of Love,” starting with my awkward introduction:
There really wasn’t a down moment the entire night. Jeremy Lister and Gabe Dixon kicked the show off off with CCR’s “Down on the Corner” and Freddy King’s “Tore Down,” respectively. (Dixon is an insane keyboardist, by the way.) And only in Nashville will a nurse (in her day job) step on stage and do what Besty Ulmer does here:
That wasn’t even her best song. Her “Bring It on Home to Me” had a few people in the crowd dancing. That’s amazing, because nobody dances in Nashville.
The crowd favorite was probably Emily West. She got a standing ovation after her soaring rendition of Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High.”
Personal favorites: The fetching Courtney Jaye unleashed some sultry Dusty Springfield. Perryman Jones had the place entranced with the old spiritual, “Motherless Child.” Jason Eskeridge’s soulful, stripped-down ode to Stevie Wonder was magnificent. Mailie Misajon’s strutting, sexy “Love Me Like a Man.” Thad Cockrell and Jaye singing Cockrell’s beautiful song “Rosalyn.” The raspy, Americana blues of Mark Huff, pictured here. (Photo by Nate Ulmer.)
Here’s a shot of your humble Agitator, playing host. I’m comfortable with public speaking. But I usually say things like, ” . . . and then the cops killed him.” This was a little different.
A few more of my own photos from the show:
I’ll leave you with Lee Broderick, a Brit with amazing pipes you’ll likely be hearing more of soon.
Can’t say enough how gracious a lot of people were in helping put this thing together. A number of people told me after the show it was one of their favorite nights out in Nashville. That’s saying something in a city where there are a couple dozen live music shows every night. Chris is reaching out to the artists himself to thank them, but I don’t think he’d mind my saying that he’s humbled and grateful. He suggested we make this an annual event, though obviously for a different cause next year. I think it’s a great idea. The Cold Stares could open the show.
You can still donate to help Chris out. Details here.
(Thanks to Nick Ulmer for the videos.)