Nitty Gritty Talent
Songwriter Denton Hatcher opens up Chelsea’s floor to BR’s songwriting community
By Christie MathernePosted Oct 19, 2011
Once every month or so, the stage at Chelsea’s Cafe commands a different kind of attention. Instead of moving the dining tables and chairs to form a dance floor, they’re left intact. Rather than fans wildly dancing, or yelling over the music to talk to a friend, the audience is sitting down, focused on the stage – they’ve come in for one reason, and so has the singer-songwriter on the stage.
“This is about people who sit down and have thought about what they’re doing,” said singer-songwriter Denton Hatcher. “They want somebody to hear it.”
Months ago, Hatcher was asked by Chelsea’s talent booker, Gabe Daigle, if he would be interested in putting together a semi-regular singer-songwriter showcase for the venue. After the first edition of Nitty Gritty Songwriter Night, Hatcher realized that it served more than one purpose. Not only does it get some great musicians’ work out there, but it has also become something of a meet-and-greet for lovers of the craft.
At heart, singer-songwriters are poets who choose to weave their honesty into melody and are brave enough to put their own names on it, rather than names of bands. In that way, it shows that they spend a lot of time thinking about subject matter. It also means they have the guts to take full responsibility for what their songs reveal, rather than the blame hitting the umbrella of the band. Those are the types you’ll find at Chelsea’s Café.
“It’s not an open mic night,” Hatcher said. “It’s people who really have a song craft, and really know what they’re doing.”
The other side of that coin, however, is the nature of the solo artist’s lifestyle – it removes the built-in opportunity to connect with other people who share their craft. Instead of having a circumstantial arena to share a stage with other bands that play similarly, singer-songwriters have the extra step of congregating themselves if they want to meet each other.
That might be the reason why even some of the most dedicated among those in Baton Rouge didn’t know everyone of their breed in the room at Chelsea’s a few months ago, at the first Nitty Gritty night.
“There were people who were actually pumped about not knowing another individual,” said Hatcher. “Just all-out enthralled.”
The musicians who play the event don’t all sound the same, either, by any means – Hatcher works hard to maintain a variety of different musical atmospheres to keep it interesting. And, though some of the musicians do come back for another round, the lineup isn’t ever the same from event to event.
Coming up on the fourth Nitty Gritty night, Hatcher expressed how exciting it is to be at Chelsea’s for these events.
“The fact that so many people actually came out and sat and actually listened was phenomenal,” he said. “People were at the tables, actually looking at what was going on. They were there for a reason. It’s gotten better and better.”
October 20 Nitty Gritty Lineup:
The next Nitty Gritty Songwriter Night will take place at Chelsea’s Café on October 20 at 10 p.m. Don’t miss it, because the next one isn’t until December!
Musicians interested in playing future Nitty Gritty nights should connect with Denton Hatcher through Facebook.