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Off the Charts: Jim Parker’s Songwriter Series

Bud Gambrell

May 13, 2024

The Jim Parker Songwriter Series is a monthly event at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Hello all! Welcome back to Off The Charts!

The Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL, hosts a monthly music event called Jim Parker’s Songwriter Series. Jim Parker, a Huntsville favorite, hosts this exclusive event. May’s edition of the Songwriter Series saw the event moving from its usual location of the VBC Playhouse to Mars Music Hall, also located in the VBC. I saw this as a unique opportunity to introduce you, the reader, to this intimate listening room-type event and maybe a couple of songwriters you may not be familiar with.

Jim Parker's Songwriter Series

For those unfamiliar with Jim Parker, Jim came to the North Alabama area from Nashville, Tennessee, and has been a songwriter for over 50 years. Having co-written songs with many award-winning artists, Jim's journey is the heart of the Songwriter Series. He began the Series in 1985, showcasing hit songwriters from Nashville, Muscle Shoals, Atlanta, Canada, and other surrounding areas.

My journey with Jim Parker began in 1985 while working at a local television station. Jim would often drop by for interviews to promote the Songwriter Series. Over the years, our paths have crossed numerous times, and I have even had the honor of photographing the series on two occasions. This personal connection has allowed me to understand the event and its significance better.

Before this most recent May 10, 2024, showcase, I pulled Jim aside and got some insight into this entertaining event. Take a moment to read more below.


OTC: Jim, tell me about the origins of the songwriter series.

JP: Well, I came from Nashville. I moved to Nashville in 1975, played all the listening rooms there, and wrote songs with Jon Anderson and other fine songwriters. Then, after getting off the road with Dave and Sugar, I moved here because we were raising the family, and I wanted to get off the road. So, my wife got me into real estate in Nashville. I got my license in 1979. We started having babies, and she was out there selling real estate with the baby on her chest, and it wasn't working out too well. So, I just had to take over, thinking that was a trick. I think she tricked me. After being in Madison, AL, from 85 to 87, I was standing before my beautiful wife, weeping like a child because I was not fulfilled by what I was doing. It was a business. And it is emotional, but it's not that creative. I can write a creative contract, but that's not like writing a creative song. She said, well, take some time off. I took two months off and regurgitated everything that was built up, and I told her that I would start my songwriting career here in beautiful Alabama. Then I was playing at the Bluebird in Nashville, and it just happened that Steve Maples, who runs this complex, was there with his son-in-law, who was also a songwriter. And I mentioned I'm looking for a home in Madison, AL. He approached me and said you ought to come and check me out. Let's talk about bringing it to the Von Braun Center. It took me a few days to get around to it because every day you take off from real estate, you're behind two or three days. So, I caught up with him, and he said, bring it here. That was 19 years ago, and we're still doing it. And we're very pleased with what's happening. I have some of the most exceptional songwriters in the world and some of the best songs you could ever hear on the radio. They're just too good!

Jim Parker's Songwriters Series
Credit: Bud Gambrell

OTC: Why do you do it?

JP: Well, it's a genetic disorder, and it's terminal. Creativity is a weird thing. You do it because you cannot keep from doing it, and it's a constant conflict because you may be having a conversation, and somebody says something, and you want to write it down, so you have to excuse yourself. I had a furniture guy who was trying to sell me a sofa. I said, “Man, that's expensive. You wouldn't cheat me, would you?” He said “No, man, I'll cheat you right.” I say, “Excuse me a minute.” I had to go write that down. So that's kind of how it happens. And I do it because the only cure for this disease is more of it. I can't visualize my life without music.

Jim Parker's Songwriters Series
Credit: Bud Gambrell

OTC: What are you trying to accomplish?

JP: I've already accomplished everything. I've recorded with an orchestra, I've got a song cut by Mark O'Connor, who's brilliant, and I have a bunch of cuts by Billy Droze. We're doing a country record for him now, and I can't tell you who's producing it, but it's a big producer. I've accomplished everything and written hundreds and hundreds of great songs, which've been cut by many great people. John Anderson cut Chicken Truck in 1980. I’ve been writing to him, and we wrote to him about two months ago. So, it's just a process. I must keep doing it.

Jim Parker's Songwriters Series
Credit: Bud Gambrell

OTC: Tell me about tonight.

JP: We're here at the Mars Music Hall. I've got Brent Moyer, Tim Styles, and Bob Tobin. I met them down at the Frank Brown International Songwriter Festival. I've been doing that for about 15 years, and I just picked the guys I like to sit with who write good songs and tell good stories.

In addition to chatting with Jim Parker, I was able to chat with one of the performers of the showase, Tim Styles, too. Check out our conversation below.

OTC: Tell me a little bit about who Tim Styles is.

TS: Well, I'm a singer-songwriter from New Mexico, but I've lived all over the country. The first time I went to Nashville, I was 14 years old, and so I've been running the roads ever since. I never did grow up.

Jim Parker's Songwriters Series
Credit: Bud Gambrell

OTC: What does something like this, a singer-songwriter series, mean to you?

TS: It means to me that people want to listen. I've spent so much of my time fighting crowds at bars. They don't want to listen, which is OK too. I know everyone wants to have a good time. But when songwriting is really my passion and when people are willing to sit and listen to stories, I get to delve into that part of myself. That's nice. It's the other side of being just an entertainer. You can be a storyteller.

Jim Parker's Songwriters Series
Credit: Bud Gambrell

OTC: So, you consider yourself a modern-day troubadour. For someone who doesn't know what that means, tell me what you consider a modern-day Troubadour.

TS: I'm a performing songwriter, another way to say it. I don't just write songs and sing. I like to perform my original music—like a Kristofferson kind of thing, you know. I can also perform my own music and put my own spin on it.

OTC: So, you mentioned Kris Kristofferson. I'm assuming he's an influence on you. What are some of your other influences?

TS: All the great singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and even rock guys like Warren Zevon have been a huge influence on me. Just all the music you pick up along the way, but I always find myself returning to the singer-songwriters.

To make the night special for the songwriters, Jim had local artist Don Howard design a caricature of each performer. The caricature of future performers may be produced and sold at shows.

Jim Parker's Songwriters Series
Credit: Bud Gambrell

OTC: Jim, can you give me a sneak peek into future series?

JP: Yeah, I'm doing a Trop rock show on August the 2nd, bringing in Bill Whyte, Darrell Clanton, and Brooke Graham. She's #4 on the Texas Rock Charts, so it's always great people. And in November, Billy Droze and Kentucky Blue will be here with me with his bluegrass band. He'll take the whole stage.

OTC: Any other plans in the future for the songwriter series?

JP: Sure, 2025, man! I'm working on it now. Yeah, we have dates. Y'all come and see us. You will not be disappointed, and it's a cheap date.

Jim Parker's Songwriters Series
Credit: Bud Gambrell


If you enjoy the listening room-type experience where you hear the stories behind the songs, I highly recommend you stop by for any future Jim Parker’s Songwriter Series. Like Jim said, you will not be disappointed.

Send me an email. Let me know what you think. Also, tell me about any performers you would like to see in future editions.

Until next time,

Keep your diamond down in the groove!

Jim Parker Music

Brent Moyer:

Tim Styles:

Bob Tobin:


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