On Monday night, New York City was privy to the type of night that usually only happens in Nashville. Some of country music’s best songwriters, artists and up-and-comers took the stage at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe to play their hits, share their stories and raise money for causes such as AIDS and homelessness. Led by mega-hit songwriter Shane McAnally, the Bluebird-style writers’ round also featured Old Dominion’s Matt Ramsey, Trevor Rosen and Brad Tursi, as well as country newcomers Drake White and Walker Hayes.
The six singer-songwriters played their own hits, songs they’ve written for other artists and also premiered some new tunes. While all of the artists played songs they’re known for, other artists were represented as well, with the men on stage having penned some of country’s biggest past, present and future hits. Some of the artists represented included Miranda Lambert, Tyler Farr, Sam Hunt, Kenny Chesney, Kacey Musgraves, Blake Shelton and Keith Urban.
While it would be nearly impossible to narrow down highlights of the night, one such moment was Matt Ramsey leading the crowd in an unintentionally epic singalong of Old Dominion’s current single “Song for Another Time.” After finishing the song, he admitted to the small but enthusiastic crowd, “That might be my favorite time we’ve ever played that song…We’ve gotten to play a lot of big venues but I’d do this any time.” Other crowd favorites included the McAnally-penned, Chesney-performed “American Kids,” “Sam Hunt’s current single “Make You Miss Me” and Tyler Farr’s hit “A Guy Walks into a Bar.”
In addition to the hits, some of the writers premiered new songs, including Old Dominion’s Brad Tursi, who played the beautiful ode to end of summer allure and romance “Almost September” and the Matt Ramsey-led world premiere of “Still Writing Songs About You.” Drake White stunned the crowd with a powerful, soulful voice and unyielding passion on songs from his just-released album Spark, including “Story,” “Live Some,” and “Back to Free.”
The biggest unknown surprise of the night was the effortlessly charming Walker Hayes, who admitted that one of his songs (“Lela’s Stars”) was written just a year ago while working part-time at Costco and balancing songwriting and fatherhood to six children. Hayes also provided humor with his country-rap styling on “Dollar Store” and his dedication to Internet haters, “Your Girlfriend Does.”
The six on and off-stage talents played a total of four rounds and if it was up to New York City, would’ve been welcome to play another four or more. To sum up the show, McAnally thanked everyone for listening and admitted that the enthusiastic fans are the reason they do what they do. Fittingly, the show’s finale was “Follow Your Arrow,” a closer that perfectly summed up the diverse, yet captivated, crowd in attendance, the six different career paths that led each writer to that New York City stage and country music at its finest.
For more information on Housing Works Bookstore Cafe and their charity work, visit their website here.
Full Set list:
Walker Hayes – Dollar Store
Drake White – Story
Brad Tursi – A Guy Walks into a Bar (Tyler Farr)
Matt Ramsey – Make You Miss Me (Sam Hunt)
Trevor Rosen – Better Dig Two (The Band Perry)
Shane McAnally – Mama’s Broken Heart (Miranda Lambert)
Walker Hayes – Lela’s Stars
Drake White – Live Some
Brad Tursi – Almost September
Matt Ramsey – Break Up With Him (Old Dominion)
Trevor Rosen – I Met a Girl (William Michael Morgan)
Shane McAnally – Fuzzy
Walker Hayes – Your Girlfriend Does
Drake White – Makin’ Me Look Good Again
Brad Tursi – Save it for a Rainy Day (Kenny Chesney)
Matt Ramsey – Still Writing Songs About You
Trevor Rosen – Sangria (Blake Shelton)
Shane McAnally – American Kids (Kenny Chesney)
Walker Hayes – Halloween
Drake White – Back to Free
Brad Tursi – Remember Boys (Cole Swindell)
Matt Ramsey – Song for Another Time (Old Dominion)
Trevor Rosen – Come Back to Me (Keith Urban)
Shane McAnally – Follow Your Arrow (Kacey Musgraves)