The son of music royalty - his father is Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne, his mother was Nashville hitmaker Sammi Smith of "Help Me Make It Through the Night" fame - Waylon Payne is one of the best of the new breed of Nashville's young writers. So good, in fact, he's nominated for a Grammy this year for writing Lee Ann Womack's "Solitary Thinkin'." Payne, a scene stealer in his role as Jerry Lee Lewis inWalk the Line
, wasn't exactly embraced by Nashville when he recordedThe Drifter
in Los Angeles with Keith Gattis in 2004. But Pat Green heard the album and convinced his label Universal South to take a listen and a chance. The album, which was barely promoted, did little. But people in the business began to record Payne's songs.
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Green, Charlie Robison, and Shelby Lynne, in whose band Payne played for several years, all covered songs from The Drifter. But the biggest music break yet for Payne was Womack and producer Tony Brown picking "Solitary Thinkin'" for Womack's 2009 album Call Me Crazy.
Payne will be sharing the stage at Thursday's writers-in-the-round with Jonny Burke and Houston fave Lisa Morales.
7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 7, at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 713-528-5999 or www.mcgonigels.com.