By Joe Hadsall
Globe Features Editor
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
If you caught Matt Cline when he was a high school student at Carthage and told him that, as a songwriter in Nashville, he'd have to basically finance the performance and recording of his own songs in order to get them in the ears of the right people at the right label, he probably would have sought out another career.
"Back then I was worried about keeping my guitar in tune," Cline said. "I didn't have the first clue about the business. But being naive kept me going."
Cline has written songs for Ray Stevens since 2009, including some of the singer's YouTube-successful, political songs such as "Come to the USA." Anthony Orio and Andy Griggs have also performed his work.
He and fellow songwriter Matt Dame will perform a special songwriter show today at the Carthage R-9 Auditorium. The two will share stories of the music business in the country music capital, landing songs on the radio and what it's like working with some of country's big names.
Dame has written songs for Heartland and Tim McGraw. Working for ATV Publishing and Roger Murrah Music, he was also on CMT's "Next Superstar" and has been featured on records by Billy Ray Cyrus.
A native of Batesville, Ark., he and Cline are performing in their hometowns today and Saturday. The two have performed together in Nashville several times in a special acoustic show.
"We do a show at the Bluebird pretty regularly, and we've done these kind of listening shows for a while," Cline said. "It goes over so well (in Nashville), with people from all over, so we wanted to try playing this outside of the county."
Cline said the two put together an intimate style of show featuring acoustic playing in a campfire setting. Family-friendly and filled with story-behind-the-story stories, the two share songs that have made it and songs they hope become gems.
The songwriting business can be fickle and fierce, Cline said. But it's a job he's enjoyed for the past eight years.
He's worked with musicians and singers to recording and mastering songs in order get them radio ready. He's also working on recording more comedy material.
His work happens in a variety of places, from his own desk to alongside the artist interested in his songs.
"Sometimes you can get pretty close with the artists," Cline said. "For Andy Griggs, I wrote some of those songs in the same room with him. That's the quickest way to get something cut. They can determine right there whether they like it."
Want to go?
Matt Cline and Matt Dame will present Campfire Series, their Nashville songwriting show, at 8 p.m. today at Carthage R-9 Auditorium. Tickets: $10. Details: www.campfireseries.com.