Americana Music Conference & Festival Picks

Below you’ll find my picks for the 2012 Americana Music Conference showcases. This was one of the the toughest  years to winnow down the performances I’m going to attend. And I still did a poor job! There is too many great acts playing at the same time. Such an embarrassment of riches!

But there is hope! Unlike the misery of traversing the stages at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass where you’re lucky to catch parts of shows at more than one stage, and or even to make it alive in some cases, the Americana Festival has buses to get us to the venues.

Of course I can’t make all the shows unless am able top perfect that time bending and beer making contraption I’ve been working on (SOON!) but you van catch any of these performances and not go wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 11

The 5 Spot
$2 TUESDAYS /Twang Nation Social Club –  Hosted by Derek Hoke : feat.Melody WalkerAlanna ,
Royale Joshua Black Wilkins, Marsha & The Martians (Angel Snow & Robby Hecht) Late Night with Los Colones9pm
$2 cover/$2 Yazoo pints #UnofficialAMA

Mercy Lounge
Somebody’s Darling w/ Buffalo Clover – The High Watt #UnofficialAMA
The Billy Block Show featuring Yo Ma Ma, Erica Nicole, Chelle Rose, Allie Farris, Caroline Rose and The Cumberland Collective  #UnofficialAMA

Two Old Hippies 401 12th Ave. South
The Alternate Root Presents a Pre-AMA Triple-Play of Music with Amelia White, Julie Christensen and Tommy  Womack & The Rush To Judgment #UnofficialAMA
Showtime: 6:00-8:00 pm
No Cover ~ Special Treats
615-254-7999

Wednesday, September 12

Puckett’sGrocery, 5th & Church

5pm & 7pm Allen Thompson Band CD Release Party,
Dinner & show before the AMA Awards at 5 . Later show 7 #UnofficialAMA

The Basement
11:00 Blue Mountain
12:00 Shovels and Rope

The Station Inn
11:30 Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson

The Rutledge
10:00 Gretchen Peters
12:00 Delta Rae

Mercy Lounge
10:00 Corb Lund
11:00 This Wheel’s On Fire: A Tribute to Levon Helm

The High Watt
10:30 Whitehorse

Cannery Ballroom
10:00 Star Anna
Thursday, September 13

The Basement
8:00 Lydia Loveless
9:00 Angel Snow
10:00 Sons of Fathers
11:00 The Deep Dark Woods
12:00 Black Lillies

The Station Inn
10:00 Mary Gauthier
11:00 Richard Thompson

Mercy Lounge
8:00 Turnpike Troubadours
9:00 Billy Joe Shaver
10:00 Steve Forbert
11:00 John Fullbright
12:00 Jason Boland & The Stragglers

The High Watt
10:30 Eilen Jewell
11:30 Julie Lee
Cannery Ballroom
8:00 Blue Highway
9:00 Sara Watkins
10:00 Paul Thorn
11:00 Punch Brothers (with a Sara Watkins cameo?)

Friday, September 14

Sheraton Hotel lobby – 623 Union St.
Wanda Jackson
12:30-1:10pm

Amy Black,  Susan Cattaneo, Rose Cousins and Rod Picott
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

The Basement
9:00 American Aquarium
11:00 Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys

The Station Inn
8:00 Red June
9:00 Della Mae
10:00 McCrary Sisters
11:00 Steep Canyon Rangers
12:00 Humming House

The Rutledge
8:00 Mandolin Orange
9:00 Mindy Smith
11:00 Belle Starr

Mercy Lounge
8:00 Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition
9:00 Holy Ghost Tent Revival
10:00 Dylan LeBlanc
11:00 Darrell Scott
12:00 Reckless Kelly

The High Watt
9:30 Two Gallants

Cannery Ballroom
9:00  Amanda Shires
10:00 Robert Ellis
11:00 John Hiatt

Saturday, September 15

The Basement
9:00 Chastity Brown
11:00 The Pines
12:00 Chris Scruggs

The Station Inn
8:00 Brennen Leigh
9:00 Phoebe Hunt
10:00 Marvin Etzioni
11:00 Rodney Crowell

The Rutledge
8:00 Felicity Urquhart
9:00 The Wood Brothers
10:00 Kevin Gordon
12:00 The Trishas

Mercy Lounge
8:00 Lera Lynn
9:00 honeyhoney
10:00 Tift Merritt
11:00 Buddy Miller & Lee Ann Womack

The High Watt
8:00 Jill Andrews
9:00 Derek Hoke

Americana Music Festival Announces Confirmed First-Round Performers

Though we might not always see eye to eye the Americana Music Association know how to put on a party. The Americana Music Festival & Conference is annually held in Nashville and this year will mark it’s This 13th year. Each year it occurs in Fall and this year it will run September 12-15. The event has loads of the best Americana music, media and industry people you could ever care to meet. All that and somehow they keep letting me back in!

The AMA has just released an early list of performers a slated to appear. They are:

American Aquarium – Amy Helm – Andrew Combs – Angel Snow – Anthony da Costa – Bearfoot – Belle Starr – Bill Kirchen – Billy Joe Shaver – Black Lillies – Blue Highway – Blue Mountain – BoDeans – Brandi Carlile – Brennen Leigh – Buddy Miller – Buxton – Caitlin Harnett – Chastity Brown – Corb Lund – Cory Branan – Darrell Scott – The Deep Dark Woods – Della Mae – Derek Hoke – The Dunwells – Eilen Jewell – Felicity Urquhart – Fort Frances – Gretchen Peters – Holy Ghost Tent Revival – honeyhoney – Humming House – Immigrant Union – Jason Boland & The Stragglers – Jill Andrews – Jim Lauderdale – Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition – John Fullbright – John Hiatt – Jordie Lane – Julie Lee – Kasey Anderson and the Honkies – Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – Kevin Gordon – Lera Lynn – Lydia Loveless – Mandolin Orange – Mary Gauthier – The Mastersons – Max Gomez – McCrary Sisters – Mindy Smith – Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers – Phoebe Hunt – Punch Brothers – Reckless Kelly – Richard Thompson – Robert Ellis – Rodney Crowell – Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside – Sara Watkins – Shovels & Rope – Sons of Bill – Sons of Fathers – Star and Micey – Starr Anna – Steep Canyon Rangers – Steve Forbert – Teresa Williams and Larry Campbell – Tift Merritt – Turnpike Troubadours – Two Gallants – Wheeler Brothers – Whitehorse – The Wood Brothers – The World Famous Headliners

Be sure to keep your eye on the Americana Music Association official site for more additions and information.

See you there (and bring $, beers are on you!)

A Solid Selection of Americana Music Association Nominees ‎Announced

Through a spotty online streamed event (at least on my side) from Grammy Museum’s Clive Davis Theatre in L.A. the Nashville-based Americana Music Association announced their 2012  announced their nominees for Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Emerging Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Instrumentalist of the Year.

On hand was “Mr. Americana,” and the premier host of the Americana Awards program, Jim Lauderdale. Buddy Miller lead the Americana All Star quartet with Don Heffington, Greg Leisz and Don Was. Featuring excellent performances by Lauderdale, Shelby Lynne,  Lucinda Williams and Texas’s own Robert Ellis.

Jed Hilly gave a gracious speech and then introduced the actor John C Reilly, and mighty fine roots musician in his own right, as M.C.  for the event.  Taking the stage and looking rather sheepish Reilly stated  “They call this the Americana Awards but really it should be the All the Great Artists Out Right Now Awards.”

The nominees are some of the most solid since I’ve been keeping score of the AMA awards.  Jason Isbell and  Gillian Welch lrad nominations with 4 and 3 respectively. The Artist of the Year noms Welch, Isbell as well as Hayes Carll and Justin Townes Earle leaves me for the first time with no clear favorite to root for. There is the staple legend that released something unexceptional but still gets a nod (  Steve Earle with an Album of the Year nod for  I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive ) but overall even this category is solid (not least of which because 2 of the nominees , Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit and Gillian Welch, were on my best  of 2011 list)

There appears to be some bandwagon jumping with the Emerging Artist of the Year nominees Alabama Shakes and Dawes. I could give you a list of a  dozen artists I’d replace them with. (one being already on the list, the exceptional Robert Ellis.) Buddy Miller is to the AMAs what Kenny Chesney is to the CMAs, is once again on the list for Instrumentalist of the Year.

The performers and the band then ended the ceremony with a rousing rendition of the traditional spiritual “Let the Circle Be Unbroken.”

Winners will be announced at the Americana Honors and Awards program  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. –  Sept. 12. The ceremony is part of the Americana Music Festival and Conference, which takes place on Sept. 12-15.

Full list of nominees below:

Album of the Year
Here We Rest – Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive – Steve Earle
The Harrow & The Harvest – Gillian Welch
This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark – Various Artists

Artist of the Year
Gillian Welch
Hayes Carll
Jason Isbell
Justin Townes Earle

Emerging Artist of the Year
Alabama Shakes
Dawes
Deep Dark Woods
Robert Ellis

Song of the Year
“Alabama Pines” – Written by Jason Isbell and performed by Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
“Come Around” – Written and performed by Sarah Jarosz
“I Love” – Written by Tom T. Hall and performed by Patty Griffin
“Waiting On The Sky to Fall” – Written and performed by Steve Earle

Instrumentalist of the Year
Buddy Miller
Chris Thile
Darrell Scott
Dave Rawlings

Duo/Group of the Year
Carolina Chocolate Drops
The Civil Wars
Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Punch Brothers

Twang Nation Podcast Episode 4

Here it is folks, the first Twang Nation Podcast for 2012. This episode features cuts from upcoming albums by Justin Townes Earle,  Shooter Jennings, The White Buffalo, James Low Western Front, Darrell Scott as well as excellent cuts from current releases by Charlie Parr, Mississippi Live & The Dirty Dirty and Liz Frame And The Kickers. On the occasion of his birthday I have included a song by the man that amounts to the patron saint of the Americana genre T. Bone Burnett conclude the episode.
I hope you all enjoy the music featured in this and all the podcasts I bring you and hope you seek out the musicians and buy their music, merch and , most importantly, take all your friends and see them live. Remember you can leave requests or feedback below or email me at baron(at)twangnation(dot)com.
1. Justin Townes Earle – Song:  Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now – Album: Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now  (Bloodshot Records)
2. Charlie Parr – Song: God Moves on the Water – Album: Keep Your Hands On The plow (Independent)
3. The White Buffalo – Song:  How the West Was Won  Album: Victims, Enemies, & Old Friends  (Unison Music Group)
4. Lincoln Durham – Song:  Love Letters –  Album: The Shovel vs. The Howling Bones (Independent)
5 Shooter Jennings – Song: The Deed and the Dollar Album: Family Man (Entertainment One)
6. James Low Western Front – Song: Thinkin’ California – Album: Whiskey Farmer  ( Union made Records)
7. Mississippi Live & The Dirty Dirty  – Song: The Devil Lives In The T.V.  – Album: Way Down Here (Independent )
8. Liz Frame And The Kickers – Song: God Doesn’t Like His Women Left Alone  – Album: first full-length “Sooner” (Air Age Sound Records)
9. Darrell Scott  – Song: Hopskinville – Album: Long Ride Home (Full Light)
10. T. Bone Burnett – Song: Primitives – Album: Criminal Under My Own Hat (Sony)

Nominations for the 53rd GRAMMY Awards

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) announced the nominees for the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards (to be held February 13th, 2011.) Here listed are the nominees in the Americana, Roots categories as well as similar artists in other categories (for a full list of nominees ho the Grammy.com)  Any surprises? Who’s missing?

BEST AMERICANA ALBUM
Rosanne Cash – The List
Los Lobos – Tin Can Trust
Willie Nelson – Country Music
Robert Plant – Band of Joy
Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone

BEST BLUEGRASS ALBUM
Sam Bush – Circles Around Me
Patty Loveless – Mountain Soul II
The Del McCoury Band – Family Circle
Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band – Legacy
The Steeldrivers – Reckless

BEST TRADITIONAL FOLK ALBUM
Carolina Chocolate Drops – Genuine Negro Jig
Luther Dickinson & the Sons of Mudboy – Onward and Upward
The John Hartford Stringband – Memories of John
Maria Muldaur – Maria Muldaur & Her Garden of Joy
Ricky Skaggs – Ricky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved

BEST CONTEMPORARY FOLK ALBUM
Jackson Browne & David Lindley – Love Is Strange – En Vivo Con Tino
Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Age of Miracles
Guy Clark – Somedays the Song Writes You
Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs – God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise
Richard Thompson – Dream Attic

BEST COUNTRY INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE
Cherryholmes – “Tattoo of a Smudge”
The Infamous Stringdusters – “Magic #9”
Punch Brothers – “New Chance Blues”
Darrell Scott – “Willow Creek”
Marty Stuart – “Hummingbyrd”

Other Americana/roots/indie/alt/whatever artists nominated in assorted other categories:

  • Dailey & Vincent – “Elizabeth” (Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals)
  • Dierks Bentley – Up on the Ridge (Best Country Album)
  • Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert & Jamey Johnson – “Bad Angel” (Best Country Collaboration with Vocals)
  • Dierks Bentley, Del McCoury & the Punch Brothers – “Pride (In the Name of Love)” (Best Country Collaboration with Vocals)
  • Ryan Bingham & T. Bone Burnett – “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart (Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media)
  • Johnny Cash – “Ain’t No Grave”/ The Johnny Cash Project (Best Short Form Music Video)
  • Crazy Heart (Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media)
  • Steve Earle – “I See You” from Treme (Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media)
  • Patty Griffin – Downtown Church (Best Traditional Gospel Album)
  • Buddy Holly – Not Fade Away: The Complete Studio Recordings and More (Best Historical Album)
  • Elton John & Leon Russell – “If It Wasn’t for Bad” (Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals)
  • Jamey Johnson – “Macon” (Best Male Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Album for The Guitar Song)
  • Miranda Lambert – “The House That Built Me” (Best Female Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Song, Best Country Album for Revolution)
  • Ray LaMontagne – “Beg, Steal, or Borrow” (Song of the Year)
  • Los Lobos – “Do the Murray” (Best Rock Instrumental Performance)
  • Mumford & Sons – “Little Lion Man” (Best Rock Song, Best New Artist)
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Mojo (Best Rock Album)*The Steeldrivers – “Where Rainbows Never Die” (Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals)
  • Robert Plant – “Silver Rider” (Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance)
  • Pete Seeger with the Rivertown Kids and Friends – Tomorrow’s Children (Best Musical Album for Children)
  • Ricky Skaggs – Mosaic (Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album)
  • George Strait – “The Breath You Take” (Best Country Song)
  • Marty Stuart & Connie Smith – “I Run to You” (Best Country Collaboration with Vocals)
  • Treme (Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media)
  • Hank Williams – The Complete Mother’s Best Recordings…Plus! (Best Historical Album)
  • Lucinda Williams & Elvis Costello – “Kiss Like Your Kiss” from True Blood (Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media)
  • Neil Young – “Angry World” (Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Album for Le Noise)

Review: Robert Plant and The Band of Joy – Meyerson Symphony Hall, Dallas, TX, 7/23/10

Robert Plant has always been a cultural carpetbagger. He and the rest of Led Zeppelin were part of the second wave of the British invasion, those brazen English lads that stormed America in the 60’s and taught us about our own musical heritage – the blues. But Zeppelin , though, turned it up to 11 and as a result raked in millions, and left a trail of Rock and Roll debauchery that left the original sources – John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf and of sources Robert Johnson – wondering what hit them.

Plant, now 62, took part in a one-off Zeppelin tribute gig, promptly turned his back on a piles of cash, and the pleas of his ex-bandmates, and followed his muse to the same Southern climes where he first made his mark – but this time he rambled over the tracks to pilfer from the hillbillies. In his initial endeavor  down this dirt road Plant was smart in tap the right guides – T. Bone Burnett, Alison Krauss, Buddy Miller,  and covering Mel Tillis,  Townes Van Zandt and the Everly Brothers  – and it paid off in critical acclaim and 5 Grammy Awards and a successful tour.

So instead of  copying a successful formula down to the details Mr. Plant presents us with his Americana expedition 2.0,  or as he’s christened it The Band of Joy – a name he lifted from the band Plant and late Zep drummer John Bonham belonged to pre-Zeppelin.

This 2010 souped-up-hillbilly version features the fantastic Patty Griffin as his female counterpart on vocals and guitar, the extraordinary Darrell Scott on vocals, mandolin, guitar, accordion, pedal, lap steel and banjo (whew!) , Byron House on bass and Marco Giovino on percussion. and the only constant from the Raising Sand recording and touring band, Buddy Miller providing band leadership, guitar and vocals.

After an excellent (and unannounced) opening set by the legendary Great Lady of Soul, Bettye LaVette, Mr. Plant and his Band of Joy hit the stage of the I.M. Pei designed Mayerson Symphony Center in Downtown Dallas to a rousing applause by an audience mixed with old hippies and their hippie pups, preppies in dapper duds, glamed-out aged wanna-be groupies who 20 years earlier would have been a few miles away at the Lady GaGa show or the Mary Kay dinner across the street at El Fenix, and cowboys and cowgirls complete with pearl-snaps and  Stetsons. They all came expecting something grand from the aged rock-god, and many of them were going to go home, ah-hem, dazed and confused.

Plant served the whims of the many by covering no less then seven Zep tunes (well, six-and-a-half since In My Time of Dying was spliced to end of a rousing version of the  traditional Gospel number Twelve Gates to the City) and a couple of his early solo work. But these hard blues tunes were served up pretty much as they were on the Raising Sand tour – with a rustic and easy vibe. Well sorta…

Perhaps it was the absence of Americana stalwart T. Bone Burnett’s lo-fi stewardship but many of the songs veered toward the volume heights of Zep, with Buddy Miller giving Mr. Page a run for his sonic runes. But even with the bigger sound Plant showed the vocal restraint he displayed from the Raising Sand days. But Birds gotta fly and rock gods gotta preen and wail – an occasional mic stand twirl here, an ooo oooo there, but mostly tasteful restraint the material preferred.

In true communal spirit among the tunes from the upcoming self-titled The Band of Joy album (U.K./international – Sept. 13, on the Universal label, U.S. release Sept. 14, on the Rounder label) members of the band took a turn at the mic.  Buddy Miller played a bustling version of Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go, a song written by his wife Julie, with Patty Griffin sitting in on Julie’s part. Patty Griffin balanced sass and salvation with the Blind Willie Johnson piece If I Had My Way, I Would Tear This Building Down. But the showstopper was Darrell Scott deploying his booming voice on a song that Porter Wagoner took to #1 on the country charts in 1955- A Satisfied Mind. Take that rock god.

“Some things have to change,” Plant said smiling after a relatively modest version of Houses of the Holy. The crowd seemed pleased, if a bit perplexed as to Plant’s new venture and career choices. But as long as Plant continues to pursue his muse the song will always remain the same.

set list here

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB-3vYOPqRc&feature=related[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbKhcSdNz3o&feature=search[/youtube]

News Round Up: Robert Plant to Tour with Patty Griffin, Darrell Scott & Buddy Miller

Robert Plant appears to be following the Americana music muse that led him to a successful collaboration with Alison Krauss and T. Bone Burnett on the Grammy-Award winning Raising Sand.

Plant has confirmed a 12-city North American tour  beginning in July.  Plant’ will be supported on tour by the  Band of Joy, a name taken from a pre-Zeppelin  ’60s Birmingham, England group he performed in with drummer John Bonham.  Plant and Band will preview material from a new album set for release on Rounder in late summer/early fall.  Band of Joy will feature Patty Griffin (who has recently release her own new album Downtown Church), multi-instrumentalist/singer Darrell Scott,  bassist/singer Byron House, drummer/percussionist/vocalist Marco Giovino, and co-producer/guitar/singer Buddy Miller (who also appeared on Raising Sand.)

Plant and Krauss Back In The Studio

  • Country Standard Time and Rolling Stone posts that Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are back in the studio with T Bone Burnett working on the follow-up to their platinum-selling, five Grammy winning album Raising Sand.
  • Iron & Wine (aka Sam Beam) is readying Around the Well (due May 19 from Sub Pop) a compilation 23 rare and previously unreleased tracks. The double-disc set will be supported by a short May tour. For this tour, the group is asking fans to help shape the set lists through voting on IronandWine.com. Live recordings will be available shortly after each gig at PlayedLastNight.com. Meanwhile, Iron & Wine is hard at work on its next studio album, due in early 2010. (Billboard)
  • The Americana Music Association announces more artists have been added to the line-up for its “Live at The Bluebird Cafe” concert series.  On February 19, beautifully rich voice of Stephanie Chapman will join Jim Lauderdale.  The Sam Bush Band will take the stage on February 26. Nanci Griffith will perform in-the-round on March 5 with critically acclaimed artists Mary Gauthier and Elizabeth Cook. Award-winning, multi-talented songwriter Darrell Scott will headline on March 12. Foster & Lloyd close the series on March 26.


Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 8

Just a few shots from the excellent Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 8 at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. A tip of the hat to investment banker, banjo player and member of the Bluegrass band The Wronglers Warren Hellman, who finances this gift to San Francisco every year and offers some of the greatest roots performers in the country. I don’t know how or why,  but I was taught to never look a gift horse too closely in the molars. Thanks!

New York Times Writer Champions Country Music for Insight Into America

Kurt Campbell who’s bio states that he’s  is an expert on Asia and security issues who is now chief executive of the Center for a New American Security and served in the Pentagon in the Clinton administration, in charge of Asia/Pacific issues, and earlier taught at Harvard. Mr. Campbell writes over at that mouthpiece for the Blue Sate agenda, The New York Times, that country music is a  place to gain a”…deeper insights into the soul of America even without leaving the obvious attractions of Blue State life.”

As a person enjoying the educational, cultural, culinary and economic booty of the bluest of states (New York) I agree with Mr. Campbell when he writes:

Yes, even with its love for the vehicular and alcoholic, country western is the best place to start to learn a little something   about what it means to have a family, to struggle making ends meet, to own a gun or a pickup truck, to support our troops     unquestioningly, to enlist in the military and fight our country’s wars and to generally be very proud of what America stands  for — and to profess confusion over just what all this fuss is about when it comes to our foreign policy choices.

But I urge Mr. Campbell to also pick up recent releases from Steve Earle, James McMurtry or Darrell Scott and many others to hear great country and roots music with a clear insights into foreign policy.