By Julie Parise, CBSNewYork.com.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – If you’re a country music fan in New York City, you’re not alone — but you might feel like you are.
That is, unless you were at Joe’s Pub in the East Village Tuesday night, where four acclaimed songwriters sat on stage with nothing but some sheet music, microphones and their guitars as they played an intimate set consisting of hits made famous by legendary artists like Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson and George Strait.
And it’s all happening again Wednesday night.
It’s called the Songwriters’ Series, and the shows are held periodically by the Country Music Association (CMA) here in New York City, as well as in Chicago and Los Angeles. Along with live, acoustic performances, fans hear straight from the songwriters about the people and places which inspired the hits they know so well.
In a city without a country music radio station – the closest one broadcasts out of New Jersey’s Monmouth County – one might be surprised at the large turnout for the honky-tonk event. There was hardly room to move in the bustling restaurant Tuesday night – all of the dinner tables were filled, and the bar quickly became standing room only.
Demand for tickets was so high that the group performed twice Tuesday night, with a dinnertime and a late night show, and will perform again twice Wednesday evening.
“This is a strong example of the strength and popularity of country music in New York,” said Steve Moore, CMA Chief Executive Officer, who added that the Big Apple shows routinely sell out in less than an hour. “Adding additional dates was an obvious choice and a popular decision.”
The most recognizable performer Tuesday night was Easton Corbin, a young star out of Florida, whose songs “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It” were #1 hits. He sang both tunes, along with “This Far From Memphis,” a ballad with a blues feel from his self-titled album.
“I find the creative side of the songwriting process to be so rewarding,” said Corbin, whose presence elicited several outbursts from the female crowd at the pub. “The Songwriters’ Series is a great way for music fans to learn about that process.”
Corbin performed alongside Bob DiPiero, Carson Chamberlain and Mark Sanders, who are responsible for some of the biggest hits in the country music genre – you just wouldn’t know it, due to their behind-the-scenes positions. They are the men behind songs like Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance,” and George Strait’s “Blue Clear Sky.”
For Wednesday night’s performance, Corbin won’t be present. Instead, DiPiero, Chamberlain and Sanders will strum their guitars alongside platinum-selling recording artist Clay Walker, whose single “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” was named one of the top 10 country songs of 2010 by Billboard magazine.
Wednesday night’s performances are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. For more information, click here.
Julie Parise is the features editor for CBSNewYork.com.