One of the largest gathering of songwriters in the world got underway Tuesday night (March 29) in Nashville. The Tin Pan South Festival features writers from all genres of music, offering the chance to catch over 400 songwriters performing at nine venues scattered throughout Music City.

Nashville nightspots including the Bluebird Café, Hard Rock Café and Station Inn will present both hit songwriters and up-and-comers throughout the event. Whether attending a themed event, such as the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame featuring Lee Roy Parnell ('Heart's Desire'), Michael Martin Murphey ('Wildfire'), Gary Nicholson ('One More Last Chance') and Bruce Channel ('Hey Baby') on Wednesday (March 30), or Out of the Box: The Cutting Edge of the Nashville Underground, which pulls together Sam Cooper ('East Nashville Girls'), Chris Gantry ('Dreams of the Everyday Housewife'), Alex King ('What If I') and Shane Piaseck ('Monday Creek') on Thursday (March 31), there is sure to be a performance for any musical taste.

Chris Wallin ('Don't Blink') tells The Boot his top picks to see during the week are Don Schlitz ('The Gambler') and Tony Lane ('A Little Past Little Rock'). "This week is where all the songwriters come together within a few days, and you see different pairings of people that you may not normally see together," he says.

Steve Bogard ('Praying for Daylight') recommends the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame show, headlined by Mac Davis on Saturday (April 2) along with Bobby Braddock, Sonny Curtis and Jim Weatherly. Together these men have written numerous hits, including Mac's Elvis Presley hit, 'In The Ghetto'; Bobby's Billy Currington smash, 'People Are Crazy'; Sonny's iconic rock hit, 'I Fought the Law'; and Jim Weatherly's pop-soul nugget, 'Midnight Train to Georgia.'

"There is an influx of songwriters from all over the world here this week who want to be a part of our songwriting community," Steve explains. "The Nashville Songwriters Association (NSAI) spends all year educating and lobbying, so this is the week we can celebrate the songwriter. It's a spectacular week."

"I'm going to make as many performances as I can," says Wood Newton, whose hits include the Oak Ridge Boys' 'Bobbie Sue.' "There is an amazing lineup of world-class talent who will perform this week. It's an event that brings in the best of the best."

Erika Wollam Nichols, co-director of Tin Pan South for NSAI, says "The event creates energy that comes from having so many creative people in Nashville at one time." She suggests checking out Crystal Bowersox (runner-up on the ninth season of 'American Idol'), Carolyn Dawn Johnson ('Single White Female') and Phil Vassar ('Just Another Day in Paradise').

"When Phil first came to town he had a club called the Hard Day's Night Café and he would come in and ask about being a part of Tin Pan South," she recalls. "We put him in the lineup before he started having success, and he's always been supportive of NSAI over the years. So I would say it's a great opportunity to see some of the people whose name you don't know, but who may be stars in the very near future. That's what's so great about all the talent that is here."

A good example of newcomers paired with a veteran songwriter is the Storytelling concert on Wednesday (March 30) headlined by Tom T. Hall, who makes a rare appearance at Tin Pan South. Tom T. is known as the Storyteller, with hits including 'Harper Valley PTA' and 'Little Bitty' (covered by Alan Jackson). He's joined by a couple of new guys who weave their own style of storytelling, Eric Brace and Peter Cooper. The two often write together, and have penned the tunes 'You Don't Have to Be Like Them' and 'Master Sessions.'

Among the other performers throughout the five days are Bill Anderson ('Give it Away'), Steve Cropper ('Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay'), Even Stevens ('Drivin' My Life Away'), Natalie Grant ('Make a Way') and Steve Wariner ('Holes in the Floor of Heaven').

Last year's event drew more than 9,000 fans from all over the world. This year's Tin Pan South runs through Saturday, April 2. For more information, visit the Tin Pan South website.

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