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Entertainment: Nashville tradition is catalyst for fundraiser

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

By Charles Swenson

coastal observer

“When you’re finding things to do not to fall asleep / ’cause you know she’ll be there in your dreams / that’s when she’s more than a memory.”

The song was recorded by Garth Brooks in 2007. “More Than a Memory” is the only song to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard list of Hot Country Songs.

“Those guys wrote that song in two hours,” said Phillip Lammonds, a songwriter himself and founder of Nashville Songwriters in the Round.

Those guys include Billy Montana and Kyle Jacobs, who will be in Pawleys Island next week for the 16th annual gathering. They are both veteran writers whose songs have been recorded by a Who’s Who of country artists. Shannon Whitworth (a musician who is “one of the promising people in the world of the eclectic,” Lammonds said) and Lammonds himself will join the circle.

The songwriting process that ends at the top of the charts usually starts in a small room in Nashville where a publisher teams up writers. “It’s a 9 to 5 job, well, more like 10 to 6,” Lammonds said. “They might sit and stare at each other for an hour.”

But after a while they slip into what Lammonds called “a Zen-like mode to create a song that’s worth something.”

Part of the process includes getting together with other songwriters to try out their new material at rounds or guitar pulls. That’s the model Lammonds chose for his fundraising program. It will benefit Healthy Learners of Georgetown, which helps provide health care for students in the county schools. His wife, Rebecca, is the director of the local program.

“They meet in places and play the songs they’ve been writing. Industry people come to these things to hear new material,” Lammonds said.

Although it is intended to be a low-pressure environment, “it gets to be a bit competitive,” he added. “They try to top one another.”

The audience at next week’s Songwriters in the Round will be limited to around 125. It will be held in the community center at Prince George. Intimacy is important.

A few years ago, the songwriters were hanging around together the afternoon before the program, Lammonds recalled. He mentioned that his son was about to leave for college and was like “a bird on a wire.”

They developed the theme, wrote a song and played it that night at the round. “People were crying,” Lammond said. The lyric sheet was auctioned for $12,500.

The song hasn’t been recorded yet. That’s not unusual. A song Lammonds wrote 15 years ago when he was starting out as a songwriter was only recorded a couple of years ago by Josh Turner.

Songwriters in the Round is more than an evening’s entertainment, he said. It’s a chance to be part of the process.

“It’s a very intellectual experience,” Lammonds said.

If you go

What: Nashville Songwriters in the Round with Billy Montana, Shannon Whitworth, Kyle Jacobs and Phillip Lammonds

When: April 20, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Prince George Ocean Club

How much: $125, benefits Healthy Learners of Georgetown. Call 436-7020 or go to healthylearners.com to order

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