The evening was co hosted by current ACM Songwriter of the Year Dallas Davidson and four time ASCAP Songwriter of the Year winner Don Schlitz, who together have a massive library of songs to their credit. Joining them throughout the evening were Luke Laird and Shane McAnally, Phil Barton, Jon Stone and Johnny Bulford and lastly Will Hoge.
After a shout out to Dierks Bentley who just played the Party for A Cause, Dallas Davison kicked off the night singing "Gimme That Girl". He also sang "Country Girl", "I Don't Want This Night To End" and "Just A Kiss", among others. He told the funny story of how his Dad texted him to tell him what great lyrics "you're looking so damn hot" are...not. Don Schlitz sang some of the best songs you've ever heard including "The Gambler", "I Feel Lucky" sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter and "When You Say Nothin At All". Another great thing about a songwriter's show is seeing the friendship amongst the guys and watching them joke around. Don would rib Dallas throughout the entire show about being fatuous (look it up if you don't know the meaning). They also make mistakes at times but when they do laugh it off since it's their song and "this is how it is supposed to be played tonight".
Luke Laird and Shane McAnally played songs they wrote for Kenny Chesney and Hunter Hayes, who was not there to come out. However, Thomas Rhett made a surprise appearance and sang Jason Aldean's current single (and one he co-wrote) "1994", complete with TR's signature gyrations for the song which had the audience laughing. Boy, that boy has moves! Shane McAnally tried his moves for "Downtown", Lady A's current single, and also said he didn't realize the many meanings the phrase "take me downtown" had when he wrote it (with Luke Laird and Natalie Hemby).
Next the three "new guys" came out: Jon Stone, Phil Barton and Johnny Bulford. They each sang some new songs, including a lovely number called "Lonely Eyes", plus their nominated song for Lee Brice, his current #1, "I Drive Your Truck". Jon also brought out his female partner in American Young, Kristy Osmunson, and they performed a song together. Everyone sounded terrific, which always makes me wonder why these guys cant have the singing career too if they wanted it?
And last but not least Will Hoge came out to perform "Even If It Breaks Your Heart", a #1 for the Eli Young Band. He also sang his #1 song--in Texas--"Another Song Nobody Will Hear", which speaks the truth that there are so many good songs out there that nobody will hear. He also added that if he lost the ACM, he would be the winner of the Triple Frown...the only writer to lose the CMA/ACM/Grammy for the same song. If it matters, we love the song and think it deserved a win. He also has a cut--specifically track #5 "Better Off Now"--on Lady Antebellum's new record. He told the funny story of how Charles Kelley called him up to tell him how much he liked Will's song and to ask if they can put it on Lady As new album, something Will said he played cool about. By the way, to hear the original song, buy Will's album Blackbird On A Lonely Wire from 2008.
There are artists out there that write their own material, but there are quite a few that don't. So next time you hear your favorite song, check out who wrote it and seek them out on the social media site of your choice and give them some props. They are more than deserving.