When: Fri., March 8 2013
w/ Pete Ballou and Becca Bessinger of Satellite Rodeo, 7 p.m.
For 24 years, Craig Bickhardt called Nashville home. There he wrote songs for artists including Johnny Cash, Alison Krauss, and Willie Nelson. These were times before country stars sang about sexy tractors and sticking their boots up terrorists’ asses, and Bickhardt honed his craft with like-minded songwriters during live in-the-round sessions at Nashville’s storied Bluebird Café. “We didn’t give a shit if a song was a hit or not,” Bickhardt says. “What mattered was how good the song was, how good the story was, how believable it was, how well-written the lyric was.” In 2001, Bickhardt broke away with his first solo record, and a few years later, he moved back home to Pennsylvania and struck out on the road performing his own songs. Bickhardt is a songwriter’s songwriter to be sure, but outsiders will also appreciate the care and storytelling in his songs. And hey, you can’t hear that kind of stuff on country radio anymore. —Paul Bowers