Tin Pan South still has a few surprises left 

As the mother of all songwriter festivals, Tin Pan South, wraps up this weekend, there will be no shortage of hit writers strapping on their guitars and stripping down the arrangements—the list, even with less than a week to go, is still staggering. Among the many worthwhile performances, here are a few that stand out.

Uncle Monk, Sonny Curtis & Tim O'Brien
To use a well-worn phrase, this isn't your father's bluegrass. That is, unless your father is like Sheena, and is (or at least was) a punk rocker. The lone surviving founding member of The Ramones, Tommy's slowed things down considerably since manning the tins and skins and penning songs like "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" for Dee Dee & Co. Claudia Tienan (formerly of The Simplistics) is the other half of Uncle Monk, whose music is a lot less "O brother, where art thou?" and a lot more "Hey brother, what's up, man?" With breezy, loosely-played songs, Uncle Monk take an idiosyncratic path through hillbilly—if "Home Sweet Reality" sounds kind of far-out for a bluegrass song title, then the song's lilting drift will convince you. Also on the bill, former Cricket Sonny Curtis (who fought the law, and the law won) and IBMA award-winning vocalist Tim O'Brien. (Playing Thursday, 2nd at Station Inn.)

The Wrights
There's nothing wrong with love. And there's something about wife-and-husband duo The Wrights that sets them apart from other similarly minded combos. They're not trying to rewrite the wheel—you could accurately call them bluesy Americana without risking a tomato to the face—but they have a feel for their material that's effortless where others try too hard, and smart where others are merely clever. (Playing Saturday, 4th at the Listening Room Cafe in Cummins Station.)

Gary Burr, Hanson, Mark Hudson & Victoria Shaw
Yes, that's the very same Mmmbop-alicious Hanson you're thinking of, sharing the stage with a few songwriters who are not former teen idols but doing pretty well for themselves nonetheless. Hopefully, there will be no Dust Brothers-style record scratching going on during this one. (Playing Friday, 3rd at Mercy Lounge.)

Roger Cook, Dennis Morgan, Gunnar Nelson & Jim Peterik
Dut. Dut-dut-dut. Dut-dut-dut. Dut-dut-duuuuhhhhh. The opening chords of "Eye of the Tiger" have the amazing power to instantly transport you to a boxing match, tractor pull or 1985. There's something awesome about that sequence of punchy strums—with the insistent single-note guitar conjuring "Edge of Seventeen" in the background. In any case, if you've ever wondered what would happen if you threw a Nelson, a Survivor, a .38 Specialist and the guy who wrote "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" on the same stage and flipped on the P.A., here's your chance to find out. Watch for flying Scrap Metal. (Playing Saturday, 4th at The Bluebird.)

Email music@nashvillescene.com.


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