LJT’s Singer/Songwriter showdown,

| March 20, 2016 | Reply
John D. Hale, courtesy photo

John D. Hale, courtesy photo

Story and videos by Houston Hall — Click on the links below to view the videos.

Many of you have heard of a little piece of heaven that lies between two state highways just north of a town called Stephenville. Melody Mountain Ranch, aka the place where the ever-growing Larry Joe Taylor Music Festival is held, also holds something just as special. But it is much quainter, interpersonal, and can be at times an inspiring place for those with dreams of big stages and top-selling records.

The Songwriters Showcase is the place to be prior to the yearly festival. It is held at T-Birds. Every six weeks prior to the festival for the last 4 years, Larry Joe has held this Songwriters Showcase. In years past,  names in the Texas Music Scene like Parker McCollum (last year’s winner) and Dalton Domino (the 2014 winner) have had their careers jump-started by playing in and winning the Showcase.

This year, there are a few newcomers to the scene. For instance, the first week was won by Kaitlyn Butts of Oklahoma City, Okla., and second runner-up was Randal King.

This last week, Week Two, hosted John D. Hale, Jason Lovell and Brad Haefner of Buffalo Ruckus, Jesse Jennings, Jason Helms, and the Gibbonses.

Out of the five who played, John D. Hale took first place for Week Two. He was later

Brad Haefner, Jason Lovell — Buffalo Ruckus duo. Photo by Mary Jane Farmer

Brad Haefner, Jason Lovell — Buffalo Ruckus duo. Photo by Mary Jane Farmer

unavailable for comment. While Jason and Brad from Buffalo Ruckus took second for Week Two, John D. Hale will move on to the grand finale, as will Kaitlyn Butts, and Brad and Jason will move on to the second runner-up round, as will Randal King, the date of which has yet to be determined.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Brad Haefner, the lead guitarist and mandolin player in Buffalo Ruckus, and he said, “We were excited to be a part of the showcase. It’s a different feel from playing a rocking set of music on the main stage. It’s obviously much more intimate and you can get a real feel for the songs and the setting.”

When I later asked him how he felt about their set on the T-Birds stage, he responded with, “It wasn’t our greatest set of music, but I think that the songs came across in the end. Yes, there were a couple of technical issues with the sound, which kind of prevented us from sounding as good as we could have, but it really in the end it was the songs that came across and you know that’s what this is all about anyway.”

Hale did not return calls for an interview.

Dalton Domino has hosted the showcase for the last two years. When I asked about how he felt about the transition from contender to host of the showcase, he responded with, “My favorite thing out of my career… And I’m not saying that to blow smoke up Larry Joes A**. I love going into a songwriters competition and being able to find, you know, somebody I’ve never heard before that absolutely blows you away and stuff like that. And it’s an intimate thing and I love that. And it’s very quiet and it’s just pure talent. The transition part of it now is being able to do all of those things, but from a spectator’s perspective.”

The videos shown here are of John D. Hale and Brad Haefner and Jason Lovell of Buffalo Ruckus. We’ll keep following and reporting on this showcase.

For more information about it, visit Scene in Town or RedDirtMusicPhotojournalist on Facebook.

For Buffalo Ruckus Video, click here (all rights reserved)

For John T. Hall Video, click here (all rights reserved)

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Category: *- Features, 2016, 2016, Other

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