I’m baaaack. So if you’ve been keeping up with my tweets, or just reading the news, you know the 10th Annual Americana Association Conference and Festival in Nashville last week was quite a shin-dig. I missed goodBBQ and that laid-back Southern charm and although the conference attendance seemed to be down a bit (well, a lot actually), if my Shiner fogged memory serves me, the showcases were better than ever.
There were a number of memorable nuggets that I wanted to quickly share. For one thing, there must be an aging painting in Jim Lauderdale’s attic becuase the man that is ubiquitous not only at the AMA event but in Americana music in general, still beams with youthful charm.
The performance that made my biggest impression was a serendipitous discovery. A friend’s showcase Friday afternoon at BB Kings brought Dallas’ Somebody’s Darlng to my radar. I should be ashamed of not knowing about them earlier since they hail from my home town and they rocked my ass with a their roots-rock soul sound.
Then there was the two great guitar pulls. The Douglas Corner Cafe featured The Americana Renegades Show with excellent performance by Irene Kelley, Roger Saloom, Joe Whyte and Stoll Vaughan. The club was like a Blue Bird Cafe II with a reverent and attentive audience. Then I lucked into getting out of the rain and a long line at the Station Inn to see Nanci Griffith, Mary Gauthier & Elizabeth Cook in their own audience hushing performance was a great treat.
Seeing Bearfoot do their short set at the Compass records’ notorious Hillbilly Central open house was also a nice surprise. I was not familiar with this newgrass band but they held the packed audience in spellbound attention with their performance and did musch less cocaine than the former Hillbilly Central residents.
There was the spellbinding rustic winsomeness of Amanda Shires. The leather-tough gold-hearted girl – Angela Easterling (w. Will Kimbrough), and the omnipresence of Austin Texas with The Gourds, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Asleep at the Wheel, Reckless Kelly, Radney Foster and Charlie Robison.
Then there was standing near the stage to behold the wonder that is John Fogerty (along with Buddy Miller) at his semi-secret show at the Cannery. Wow…wow…
It was old-school alt-country at the closing night at the Basement with the ex-singer of Nashville super group BR549, Chuck Mead, and the only band that rivals the Drive By Truckers for a live performance, the Bottle Rockets, sending the whole thing off to a booming, bitter-sweet end.
Then there were the artists, radio, writers, fellow bloggers and general soldiers that, like myself, champion this music each and every day out of love more than riches (Ha!)
You can’t be everywhere all the time, and the four performance spaces for the AMA festival are a considerable distance from each other, so there are tough choices to be made and many show I wish I could have attended. But with a little logistics and a dash of serendipitous happenstance this trip to Nashville was a great party with wonderful memories (from what I can remember!)