Phillip Lammonds has written songs for The Blue Dogs, Edwin McCain, Hootie & The Blowfish, The Steep Canyon Rangers, Craig Morgan, and Kellie Pickler, among many others. His songs have appeared on more than 30 albums, and he’s managed to carve out a 20-year career in Nashville, which is not a place known for fostering longevity in the music business. After all this time, one might think that the best moments in Lammonds’ life come when a platinum-selling artist chooses one of his songs to be on a new album. But in fact, the fun comes for him during the writing process itself.
“I write songs every day,” Lammonds says. “I just like hanging out with the other songwriters and being in the room with them. Half of the session is us just joking around with each other. We talk about the songs, we talk about other things, we pick on each other, and there’s an intimacy built into the process.”
Perhaps that’s why Lammonds has sought to keep that sense of intimacy in the series of Songwriters in the Round shows he’s been curating and participating in for the last 20 years. The idea came to him when he was looking for a unique way to raise money for his children’s school.
“We were looking at alternative ideas for fundraisers,” Lammonds says, “and I’d been involved with a lot of guitar pulls (informal gatherings where songwriters trade off playing songs with just an acoustic guitar), and I just thought it would be a neat idea. And it ended up getting really popular, so we do several of them a year now.”
One of Lammonds’ in-the-round fundraising shows will take place at the Old Cigar Warehouse in downtown Greenville on November 15. The show, presented by the South Carolina Governor’s School Foundation, will raise money for the Governor’s School’s resident high school students.
Lammonds usually performs with three other singer/songwriters, trading off songs and stories. This year, he’ll be sharing the spotlight with Brice Long, Tyler Reeve, and Hannah Dasher.
“The crowd really enjoys it,” he says of the in-the-round setup. “You get to see the interaction. And since we don’t really have time to rehearse, we don’t know what songs we’re going to do. We’re in a jousting match. In that kind of setting, I might try something that I’ve never done, and I’ll just tell people to bear with me and I may mess up in the middle. It’s not a gimmick; it’s pure honesty.”
10th Annual Songwriters in the Round, Thursday, Nov 15, 7 p.m. $200. Old Cigar Warehouse, 912 S Main St, Greenville. For tickets or more information, visit scgsah.org/giving/events
WHO’S WHO at SONGWRITERS IN THE ROUND
“Tyler is an up-and-comer here in town who’s had some hits with other people (Luke Combs, Love & Theft), and he has a solo career that is building,” Lammonds says. “I like to find one person who’s had some hits and another that I can introduce to people. That’s the core to the success of these shows . . . people are seeing someone they won’t see anywhere else.”
“Brice is sort of a non-conformist to musical authority,” Lammonds says. “He’s written a bunch of hits (for Gary Allan, Chris Stapleton, Garth Brooks, and George Strait, among others), but he doesn’t do things like everyone else. He’s a really accomplished singer and songwriter who could’ve been George Strait or Blake Shelton if he’d wanted to, but he decided he liked it where he was.”
“Hannah is Janis Joplin meets Patsy Cline,” Lammonds says. “She’s crazy good. There’s a lot of brilliance there. She just signed a record deal, and I think she’s the most likely to find some immediate success as a performer on big stages.”