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Live Music Carries On During Challenging Times at the Commodore Grille

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Live music is the lifeblood of Nashville, Tennessee so local venues are doing their best to support artists in safe settings as the prolonged pandemic continues to impact 2020. The Commodore Grill is currently hosting live music seven days a week. The bar/restaurant located at 2613 West End Ave is in proximity to Vanderbilt University and Downtown. A highlight of their weekly shows is Debi Champion's Songwriter Nights.

Clockwise from top left: Donnie Winters, Rockin' Rich Lynch, Bob Spanburgh and Debi Champion.

Debi's well-respected event recently received a top three spot in the Nashville Scene's Best Writers' Open Mic Night category. Champion certain deserves an award for running this series for the past 16 years. The rounds are open to various abilities and ages. Newcomers are given an opportunity to test their chops while more reputable artists can be mentors. Debi encourages networking and does her best to have at least one hit writer per show.

In addition for having an ear for talent, Debi Champion is a singer/songwriter in her own right. Her style blends blues, country, jazz and rock. She has worked with an impressive list of artists such as Kris Kristopherson, Ronnie Milsap, Spyro Gyra and many more. However, it appears that much of Debi's time is devoted to organizing and narrating her Songwriter Nights that are held Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays at The Commodore.

VIDEO "Jesus Rock": Watch as Rockin' Rich Lynch returns to the Commodore Grille in 2020.

On November 09, 2020, Rich Lynch of MusicCityNashville was invited back by Champion. His three song set was well received but it was his "Jesus Rock" that really spoke to folks with one man approaching Lynch afterward to share that he carried his own Jesus talisman - thus proving how music connects complete strangers especially in this strange season that we have been living through.

Rich shared the stage with vocalist Kelley Jeanne and guitarist Chase who presented a strong series of relatable songs. Kelley also gave a shout out to The Commodore's chicken tenders. Next, Christopher Delisle & Friends [Olin Wallace & Norm McDonald] were solid as the leader added decisive strumming to each of their tunes. Delisle mentioned that in addition to running his Black Bandana Music Service Company he is also a baker. Perhaps the best song of that set was the serious "Dear Jesus" reflecting on many of our shared sentiments for 2020. Bob Spanburgh, Anna Sullivan and Danny Ziemba complimented each other by working as a trio with each taking a turn at lead vocals. They too presented a spiritual tune about resting in the house of the Lord that again spoke to the times.

Clockwise from top left: Billy Lee, Kelley Jeanne and Chase, Norm McDonald and Anna Sullivan.

David Alan Loy and Donnie Winters was a strong pairing as both are established songwriters. David grew up in central Michigan. He plays drums, guitar and writes. His wit was on display as he sang about being some old white guy. Winters was raised in a musical environment. His dad toured with Marty Robbins so Donnie along with brother Dennis got to work with Marty and had 10 of their songs recorded by him. Winters gave a tip of his hat to cowboy writers and his father with the sentimental "Rosita" that was topped off with some finely crafted yodeling.

Berlyn from Canada was given an opportunity to perform solo and her song about a rodeo romance was compelling. The last round of the night featured Billy Lee, Amanda Jo and Alicia Kay. The three friends worked well together and each had captivating stories to tell. Lee shared a song about addiction while Kay performed a track dedicated to her dad whereas Amanda Jo presented a life manifesto.

Monday night was just another example of the diverse talent that can be found in Nashville and at Debi Champion's Songwriter Nights. Debi makes a point of repeating each performer's name often with a word of encouragement. She runs a tight show with quick set changes that include wiping down the chairs and microphones. Champion and The Commodore Grill are some of the people who are keeping the scene alive during these challenging times. So, if you can - please support them and other Nashville venues so that live music can thrive again in better days.

Clockwise from top left: Alicia Kay, Amanda Jo, David Alan Loy, Olin Wallace,
Christopher Delisle, Berlyn Broadhead and Danny Ziemba.

Related Links: For more information on the COMMODORE GRILLE and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Commodore Grille | Debi Champion | Rockin' Rich Lynch | Kelley Jeanne and Chase | Christopher Delisle | Olin Wallace | Norm McDonald | Bob Spanburgh | Anna Sullivan | Danny Ziemba | David Alan Loy | Donnie Winters | Berlyn Broadhead | Billy Lee and Amanda Jo | Alicia Kay | Report from the Commodore Grille | Spotlight on Debi Champion


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