The note on the Bluebird Cafés Facebook page says it all: customers who visit the Nashville songwriters club instrumental in the development of Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Kathy Mattea are expected to keep quiet and listen to the words from some of Music Citys most influential composers.
Listening has an added benefit it gives the listener a chance to learn.
Thats how singer-songwriter Dustin Lynch used the Bluebird. And he used it intensely. He rented an apartment behind the venues back parking lot and literally walked to the Bluebird several times a week to listen and learn about the mysterious art of creating songs from some of Nashvilles most important writers. Don Schlitz ("The Gambler"), Tony Arata ("The Dance"), Paul Overstreet ("Forever And Ever, Amen") all are mainstays of the Bluebird legend, and it was at their proverbial feet that he picked up key insights about the writing process.
"I was soaking it in, trying to be a sponge," Dustin says. "I was mainly trying to hear the story behind the song, how it came about, what its really about. Theres something about understanding the songwriters realm. You get a little more grip on the way it was written and why it was written and how they got to the finished product."
That education paid off in a big way for Dustin. He signed with Broken Bow Records the home of Jason Aldean and sister label to Stoney Creek Records (home to Thompson Square). His debut single, "Cowboy and Angels," is quickly rising up the Country charts. Dustin is working with producers Brett Beavers (known for his work with Dierks Bentley) and Luke Wooten (Brad Paisley, Sunny Sweeney) on his debut album (due August 21, 2012) with a backlog of his own songs. Hes written that material with a bundle of Music Citys top writers Dallas Davidson ("Just A Kiss"), Tim Nichols ("Live Like You Were Dying"), Casey Beathard ("Dont Blink"), Phil ODonnell ("Back When I Knew It All") and Steve Bogard ("Prayin For Daylight"), to name a few.
But it all goes back to the Bluebird for Dustin, a native of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Influenced in his youth by such stalwart country singers as Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Clint Black, Lynch knew the importance of the Bluebird, and he chose his college David Lipscomb University in part because it was less than two miles from the club, which proved immensely important in his development.
Dustin auditioned on a Saturday morning for a chance to play its open-mic night the following day. He passed the audition and impressed host Barbara Cloyd so much that she chased him into the parking lot and offered to help him get some footing in the community.
As he began to establish himself at the Bluebird, Dustin got a call from Pete Hartung manager for singer-songwriter Justin Moore who had found Dustins MySpace page and wanted to get involved. Within weeks, Dustin had a publishing deal, and he made the most of it, writing a staggering 200+ songs in less than two years.
"Im a workaholic," he says. "I was getting paid to write songs, so thats what I did. Thats just the guy I am, if Im not doing something I get bored, so I was trying to write the best record possible and decided to just get after it as hard as I can."
Even as a Bluebird visitor, Dustin had made an impression. After he signed his publishing deal, one of the companys executives persuaded Phil ODonnell and Casey Beathard to book a co-writing session with the new writer, even though theyd never even heard his name. As soon as he walked through the door, they exploded: "Holy crap, Dustin! We know you!"
But its not just physical recognition that Dustin has achieved with his studious approach to songwriting. He combined his fascination with words and melodies with concert skills he developed in high-school bands and playing the southeastern club circuit. That combination has made him one of countrys artists to watch, a performer whos written his own mix of party songs and ballads with a unique perspective. Its his own viewpoint, honed from watching the world, and watching the experts.
Its all there, waiting for anyone else willing to?