They’re the ones who, too often, stand behind the curtain, tapping their foot and humming along while cheering for the people bringing their words to life. But sometimes, the men and women who wrote the songs we love take the stage.
Saturday, July 23, we’ll not only have a chance to see the Nashville Hitmakers here in Logan County at their 10th annual concert, but this year’s special lineup consists solely of members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Once again, the concert headliner is Even Stevens, who gave us hits like, “When You’re In Love with a Beautiful Woman” along with the numerous songs he wrote with Eddie Rabbitt, including “I Love a Rainy Night” and “Drivin’ My Life Away.”
This multi-talented, award-winning songwriter grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Indian Lake High School.
Stevens will be joined by the vast talents of Hall of Famers Dennis Morgan (“I Swear,” “Smoky Mountain Rain,” “River of Love”), Matraca Berg (“I’m that Kinda Girl,” “Wild Angels,” “Strawberry Wine”), and five-time Songwriter of the Year Paul Overstreet (“Forever and Ever Amen,” “Love Can Build a Bridge,” “When You Say Nothing At All”).
In celebration of its 10th year, the 2022 Hitmaker’s concert will also feature three major Nashville session players—Alison Prestwood (bass), Jimmy Nichols (keyboards) and Mike Loudermilk (“all sorts of guitars”). These gifted musicians have worked with major talents like Blake Shelton, Faith Hill, Reba McIntire, Keith Urban, Chet Adkins and Crystal Gayle.
But for Stevens and his sister Sandy Helgeson, who organizes the event, this concert is a yearly labor of love—for the Indian Lake community and the songwriters/musicians who help make it happen. It all started as a benefit fundraiser for the lake, with money going to the Indian Lake Watershed Project. The lake Stevens holds fond memories of. The lake Helgeson still lives on as a Lakeview resident.
“I grew up in Lewistown and rode my bike to the lake every day,” Stevens said. “Fishing, swimming and boating— it was always fun and I couldn’t wait for summer.”
He enjoyed beaches like Fox Island, Beatley’s Hotel and, his favorite, Silver Isle. To be able to contribute to preserving the area through the watershed project makes this weekend even sweeter.
Stevens—who earned the handle “Even” while working as a Morse code operator with the Coast Guard before pursuing his music career—credits his sister with making the Nashville Hitmakers concert happen.
“If it wasn’t for her we wouldn’t be doing this,” he said. “A lot of people are involved, but she’s the instigator.”
The Indian Lake High School auditorium will be full Saturday night when Stevens and his fellow songwriters step onto the stage, and attendees can expect a lot of fun and a lot of laughter.
We’ll also hear one singalong hit after another—some you might be surprised to learn were written by these artists. Because songwriters usually work behind the scenes. This mix of talent means you never know what’s going to happen as the musicians improvise together.
You’ll also hear the stories. Funny stories.
“I’d rather hear laughter,” Stevens admitted, “than applause.”
And heartwarming stories. One of those will be how Stevens was inspired to write “When You’re In Love with a Beautiful Woman” in 15 minutes. But you’ll have to attend the concert to hear it.
In addition to his sister, Stevens appreciates the generous assistance from Jim Wagoner, owner of Music Center USA in Bellefontaine, who generously contributes to the concert and has again donated a guitar toward the cause.
This instrument—a Teton acoustic solid wood guitar made of spalted maple—retails for $1,100 and will be auctioned off during intermission. Wagoner will also assist sound engineer Tom Murphy with Party Sound Productions of Springfield during the show.
The concert starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Indian Lake High School. To get tickets, visit nashvillehitmakers.com.