Nashville songwriters bring Bluebird Cafe format to Pella’s opera


After having to delay last year, Jara Johnson is finally bringing one of his favorite things from Music City to central Iowa by inviting some of the songwriters behind modern country hits to the Pella Opera House. .

At 7:00 p.m. on October 15, the historic site at 611 Franklin St. will host “Nashville North,” featuring three songwriters who have written for Matt Stell, Brad Paisley and Garth Brooks. Johnson, event coordinator at Pella Opera House and herself a former songwriter from the capital of Tennessee, will join them on stage.

“The four of us will be on stage and we will walk through, each of us singing songs that we wrote and kind of sharing some of the inspiration,” said Johnson, originally from Clarinda.

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Wrynn varble

His fellow interpreters will be Chris Wallin, one of the writers of Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink”; Wynn Varble, who helped create “Waitin ‘On a Woman” for Brad Paisley; and Paul Sikes, co-author of “Make Me Want To” with Jimmie Allen.

Johnson’s inspiration was sessions at the Bluebird Cafe, a club located just outside of Nashville. It frequently hosts performances by songwriters who, for several years, were a weekly staple on the now defunct Turner South cable television network.

The Bluebird songwriters perform in an “In The Round” format, where three or four of them sit on stools in a circle, surrounded by the audience, and take turns playing and speaking their songs.

The club’s role as a testing ground for songs to be recorded by chart-topping artists was the subject of the 2019 documentary “Bluebird”,

“It was one of the first places I went just to learn the art of songwriting,” Johnson said. “When I went to Nashville, just to see how everyone writes with each other and collaborates with each other… this is something I liked.”

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Tickets cost $ 30. To purchase and for more information about the event, visit

Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at Des Moines Register. Contact him at [email protected] or (319) -600-2124, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.

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