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Todd Rowan performs an original song during the Texas Song Fest staged Saturday night in downtown Commerce. Rowan was a finalist in a national songwriting contest that concluded in Commerce.

The first Texas Song Fest took place in downtown Commerce Saturday afternoon and evening, drawing approximately 500 attendees to hear original music and enjoy barbecue and beer.

Musician and songwriter Brad Davis, who organized and ran the event, was pleased with the number of attendees.

“We had a great time,” he said. “With all the other events going on this weekend, I think we had a good turnout.

Finalists from around the country gathered in Commerce to participate in “The Songwriters” competition. Tracy Brockman won the contest, which was judged by Dr. John Mark Dempsey, songwriter Tony Ramey, and Dan Lewis of KBUS 101.9. Tracy won a single song management and recording contract and will record her song at Brad Davis’ downtown studio sometime later this year. She also received a wide variety of instruments and gear, including a high end Takamine guitar, G7th capos, a custom strap, a Casio keyboard, a Behringer public announcement system and $1,000 worth of Quik Lok gear.

Mike McAlister won second place and John Allred finished in third place, both winning a variety of instruments and gear.

Promoting songwriting through events like this is one of Davis’ passions.

“I do it just because I love songwriting,” he said. “I’m the Nashville Songwriters Association pro in Texas, I do clinics with the Fort Worth Songwriters Association, and I do the songwriters night at Cowhill Express Coffee Company.”

The songwriters that participated in the contest had positive reactions to the event.

“The contestants who came out, they were blown away by the whole event,” he said. “We got emails from them that would just make you cry, really touching emails.”

One of the things that Davis would change from this year’s festival is the amount of live music.

“After we had our biggest sponsor pull out, we weren’t able to do the second stage behind the Drunken Mule,” he said. “We had to make things smaller, and we weren’t able to have live music all day long, which was our only mistake.”

Other than that, however, the event ran smoothly.

“I was very pleased with what I witnessed,” City Manager Marc Clayton said. “There were some good performers there and it was well organized. It seems like there were too many events going on in the same weekend, and I know that Brad Davis and Larry Smith were disappointed with the tournout, but I’m optomistic that it was successful enough for us to have another one next year.”

For more information on Texas Song Fest visit www.texassongfest.com.

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