Another beautiful summer evening in Tennessee and a very large, sold out crowd gathered at the Dyer Conservatory to enjoy the camaraderie, stories and laughter as Bob DiPiero, Victoria Shaw and Jim Photoglo took the stage under the stars and stage lights. Rick Chappell representing the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory opened the evening with a welcome, introductions and acknowledging the lady who brought everyone together, Amy Kurland owner of the famed Bluebird Cafe, who was lounging front and center and enjoying the music under the stars along with her husband, Kelly Kurland. Victoria Shaw took a moment to also point out that congressman Jim Cooper was enjoying a pleasant evening of stories and song as he sat up front near the stage.Bob DiPiero started the round, although the chairs sit in a row facing the crowd, by stating he would include the street the song was written on as part of his narrative for each of the songs he would perform during the evening, and each of the writers who followed him did the same, which added not only a history to the song, but added some very funny stories on why they were on that particular street. He opened the night with Shenandoah’s hit “The Church On Cumberland Road.” Stating he is a self proclaimed Italian hillbilly he went on to tell the story of how in 1983 after writing Reba’s “I Can See Forever In Your Eyes” and spending nearly every dime of his earnings he was forced to write another hit, which produced the first big hit for him with the Oak Ridge Boys “My Baby Is American Made.” The song poignantly mentioned item by item the things he spent his money on after his first hit. Throughout the evening, Bob performed many of his hit songs including “You Can’t Take The Honky Tonk Out Of The Girl”, Cowboys Like Us” and several others, including “Gone” which was a huge hit for Montgomery Gentry. Victoria Shaw followed DiPiero with her first number one and my all time favorite song “The River”, recorded by Garth Brooks. Throughout the evening Victoria joked several times about her love of shoes and would lift her legs to reveal her bright red sandals which were followed by much laughter from the audience. Victoria brought two very special guests with her to perform on one of her songs, her two daughters, Ruby, age 8, and Ava, age 6. The crowd rose and gave them a standing ovation after their performance of Waikiki Cowboy, a fun upbeat song about a cowboy in Hawaii. Bob took full advantage of his audience and the fact Victoria was a proud mama and joked about her being a stage mom, to which Victoria then made reference to her own mom, who was in the audience, and told a story of how she could always see her mom helping her breathe as she sang on stage.
Victoria’s plea for the sound technician to turn down the sound of crickets again had the crowd erupting with laughter. On a serious note and following Bob’s initial statement to tell the location or street where the song was written, Victoria told how she started writing “I Love The Way You Love Me”, which was recorded first by John Michael Montgomery and later the pop band Boy Zone, on the New JerseyTurnpike on her way to Pennsylvania when she first fell in love with her husband and finished it in Nashville with Lari White’s husband, Chuck Cannon. The song represents so much of her love for her husband she sang it to him at their wedding. Jim Photoglo started off his set with the Faith Hill recording, “You Give Me Love” which was the song used for the final episode of Mad About You. He shared with the audience how he started in the business as a James Taylor wannabe and how he took to the highway with his guitar and a sleeping bag and a lot of time on his hands. After Victoria’s girls left the stage he shared his own song about babies called “Baby Looks Good On You”, pointing out the obvious physical and emotional changes a woman goes through before delivery and adding some comical lines about the intimate and creative ideas that are born out of desire during this time. J
im’s son, Griffin who was enjoying the show stage side, stole the lime light from Jim at the mention of fixing up their home to sell it and it was more than apparent the young Photoglo is not anxious to leave his neighborhood. The closing song for the evening turned into a sing a long as Photoglo started the classic Nitty Gritty Dirt Band hit “Fishing In The Dark” which has also been recorded by Garth Brooks. After the show the artists moved inside the observatory where they signed autographs, took pictures and sold CD’s and t-shirts. The crowd also enjoyed the other stars by looking through the Seyfert telescope from the observatory tower and the star chamber. For more information on the observatory, go to http://www.dyer.vanderbilt.edu/. The next Bluebird on the Mountain is scheduled for August 11th and will showcase the talents of Jelly Roll Johnson, Fred Knobloch, Don Schlitz and Thom Schuyler.
(reprinted with permission Music News Nashville)