Alive & The Bluebird Opens 2024 Season with Award-Winning Show from Keith Alessi

True-Life Storytelling, Humor and Banjo Music Demonstrate How Creative Dreams Help Us Survive

Alive’s biggest annual fundraiser returns in January with a month-long series of performances by hit singer/songwriters at the legendary Bluebird Cafe. This year’s series opens with a unique, award-winning show from Keith Alessi that combines storytelling, humor and banjo playing. In Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me, But Banjos Saved My Life, Alessi shares his uplifting true story of leaving corporate life to follow his passion for playing banjo after a cancer diagnosis.

The show has raised more than half a million dollars for charity and has had several sold-out runs across Canada, Off-Broadway in New York City and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

The only nonprofit hospice in Middle Tennessee, Alive provides nearly 1.5 million dollars in charity care each year, so no one in our community has to die alone. Proceeds from Alive & The Bluebird are a critical part of the funding for Alive’s community services: grief support, financial assistance for patients when insurance doesn’t cover everything, education for families and professionals, grief camps for kids, and more.

This year’s full line up has yet to be announced. Artists for 2024 include Kent Blazy, Tom Douglas, David Nail, The Warren Brothers, David Hodges, Darrell Scott, Chris DeStefano. and Josh Osborne.

“This show is an intimate experience in keeping with The Bluebird Cafe’s special offerings,” said Erika Conway, the show’s producer and director. “We hope Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me, But Banjos Saved My Life will leave you feeling empowered, inspired, and ready to dust off your own long-forgotten dreams!”

About Erika Conway and Keith Alessi:
Before taking to the stage, writer and performer Keith Alessi was a well-known public company CEO, entrepreneur and college professor. He led companies in both Canada and the United States. A dual Canada/U.S. citizen, Keith splits his time between Vancouver, British Columbia and Meadows of Dan, Virginia.

Erika Conway is the producer, director and dramaturg for Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me but Banjos Saved My Life. Her 30-year performance career includes acting on stage and in film and television. She is the creator and producer of a one-woman show, which was a sell-out hit at the prestigious Edmonton Fringe Festival.

Ticket Details:

Tickets will be available at The Bluebird Cafe website starting December 22, 2023

About Alive

Alive is the only nonprofit provider of hospice care and end-of-life services in Middle Tennessee. Its mission is to provide loving care for people with life-threatening illnesses, support to their families, and service to the community in a spirit of enriching lives. This includes in-home and in-patient hospice care, grief support, advance care planning, outreach, support to underserved communities, education about the end of life, financial assistance, a robust volunteer program, and clinician training through the Alive Institute. A pioneer in the “good death” movement, Alive established the third hospice in the nation in 1975. Today, it remains true to its roots as an innovator and leader, helping individuals live fully while approaching death. To learn more or volunteer, visit or call 615-327-1085.

About The Bluebird

Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe is a small but mighty venue where up-and-coming songwriters and artists build their careers and rise to fame. Over the past 41 years, the tiny room has developed into one of the most significant music venues in the world where all songwriters are welcomed and supported, from novice to established hit-makers. Artists such as Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Taylor Swift have had career moments along with countless hit songwriters whose music is represented on a wide range of charts.

The venue’s “SHHHH” policy establishes it as a listening room where audience members are encouraged to pay attention to the song itself. A typical show at The Bluebird features 3 or 4 songwriters performing “in the round,” a format made famous at the club where the performers take turns playing their original music, sharing the stories behind their songs, accompanying each other instrumentally, and vocally. In addition, The Bluebird’s mission assures that a variety of performance opportunities are in place for rising songwriters to grow and develop their craft; through the weekly Monday Open Mic night, quarterly Bluebird auditions and the up-and-comers’ Sunday Writers Night.

Over 80,000 people visit the venue annually; many of them as a result of seeing the Bluebird on television, in news pieces, The Foo Fighters’ documentary, Sonic Highways, the feature film, The Thing Called Love, or on the ABC hit drama, Nashville. The Bluebird Cafe has been featured in publications such as Southwest Spirit, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine where the club was voted one of the Top 10 Best Clubs in America. Most recently, the venue’s story was featured in the 2019 documentary, BLUEBIRD, available on streaming channels including iTunes and Amazon.

For more information

Media contact for Alive:
Email or call Tambry Brechon, Sr. Director of Advancement at 615-346-8386

Media Contact for The Bluebird Cafe:
Liana Alpino:

Media Contact for Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me, But Banjos Saved My Life:
Erika Conway: