By Michael Ray Cantrell | Photos Courtesy War Memorial Auditorium
The War Memorial Auditorium, a 92-year-old venue where the likes of Carrie Underwood and the late Aretha Franklin have graced the stage, is home to Nashville House Concerts, one of Nashville’s newest music and variety acts which just wrapped up its second season. The audience is entertained by rising artists, comedians, and country music legends alike, while gathered together underneath the glistening lights of the historic memorial chandelier. The show is hosted by Sirius XM Morning Show Host Storme Warren, also known as the Dick Clark of Nashville.
Storme has hosted the show since the beginning, but this season is joined by the ever so energetic songbird Shelly Fairchild. A staple in the Nashville music industry, Fairchild is known for country hits “You Don’t Lie Here Anymore” and “Mississippi Turnpike.” The evening’s lineup consisted of the beautiful Ashley Campbell, daughter of the late, great country music legend Glen Campbell. A pioneer for causes such as Alzheimer’s Disease, a battle that he lost late in life, Glen sang the hit that we all came to know so well – “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Ashley grew up with a musical influence and was singing at a young age. She opened the night with a song about her dad called “Remembering,” which brought the audience to tears.
Once the tears were wiped away, the night took an interactive turn with Storme and Shelly asking the audience for random words to give Ashley inspiration to write a song using her banjo, which later proved successful. Words such as gazpacho, scooter, and elephant were shouted from the crowd for a brief moment of fun and laughter. Then the crowd grew silent as Erin Enderlin graced the stage with her hit song “A World Without Willie.” Erin, a lifelong Willie Nelson fan, grew up in Conway, Arkansas and came to Nashville to pursue music. She attended MTSU and her song, “You Don’t Know Jack” was recorded by country music superstar and American Idol Judge Luke Bryan.
Next to take the stage was Lauren Jenkins performing her new hit single “No Saint” off her just-released freshman album. Lauren told the audience that the song was dedicated to her mistakes because she is no saint. Lauren was born in Texas but raised in the Carolinas and has been a touring artist since she was 15 years old. During the show, Storme asked Lauren if she’d be willing to do an interview on his morning show, in which she jokingly responded “I can’t tomorrow or the next day, but I can the day after. I’m definitely not eager.”
The next artist of the night was a noticeable favorite of both Storme and Shelly. Matthew Perryman Jones, Nashville singer-songwriter whose song “Can’t Get it Right” has been featured and sung by the character Gunner on the television show “Nashville,” began his music career in 1997 in Decatur, Georgia. In 2000, he moved to Nashville to pursue music full time. He soon became the name on everyone’s lips, when his song “Save You” was heard on an episode of Kyle XY.
I can’t forget the hilarious comedian Etta Mae. Mae has appeared on Oprah, MTV, CBS Sunday Morning, and Comic Strip Live. She is admired as an LGBT icon and was previously honored by the mayor of Philadelphia for her participation in the city’s pride event who named the day “Etta Mae Day.” Her comedy was one of the highlights of the night and had the audience on the edge of our seats and laughing to the point of tears with quips like, “Ladies, you know you’re getting fat, when you sit in the bathtub and the water in the toilet rises.”
Up next was a crowd favorite which just so happened to be the only group performance of the night. The group, Fairground Saints, is comprised of three singer-songwriters, Mason, Elijah and Megan, who all play the guitar and have written over 300 songs combined. The band released their self-titled album for Verve in 2015 with their hit “Turn this Car Around” premiering on National Public Radio. They were listed as one of Huffington Post’s Music Fantastic 15 in 2016. They continue to make a name for themselves all across the United States, especially among locals here in Nashville.
Closing the show was country music superstar Sara Evans. Evans rose to stardom with hits “Born to Fly” released in 2000 and “Suds in the Bucket” released in 2003. She has appeared on “Dancing with the Stars,” won numerous country music awards and sells out packed concert halls nationwide. She is a self-made superstar who now performs with her family as part of “Sara Evans and the Barker Family Band”. Evans closes the night with a song everyone knows and loves so much, “A Little Bit Stronger.”
The Nashville House Concerts at the War Memorial Auditorium is a must-see show and keep watching for release dates for the next season. Catch this event and many more at www.wmarocks.com or call the WMA box office at 615-782-4030.