It’s been a major few weeks in Nashville. Three weeks ago it was Soundland, which was amazing and exhausting, two weeks ago was the bluegrass conference which we didn’t attend, and this past week was Americana Festival. It was the 10th Americana Festival to be exact, and the first time N4F got to cover the event – yahoo!
The festival kicked off on Thursday with showcases in venues all over the city. Though I would’ve loved to have seen the awesome show at the Rutledge (Connie Smith was there) I figured it’d be packed and instead opted to see one of my favorite songwriters, Brian Wright, at the Basement. It was actually the first time I’d seen him with a band and he blew me away. Great voice, great songs, and a great performer. After him The Greencards, who won Americana Music Association Awards for New/Emerging Artist of the Year in 2006. As expected, they were very good.
The next night was the Americana Music Association Awards at the Ryman. It was the first year I got to go and man, was it a good year to attend. Performers included Lucinda Williams (a personal favorite), Justin Townes Earle, The Avett Brothers, Buddy Miller, Robert Plant, and more. And Jim Lauderdale hosted, and I adore him. The man has some killer jokes and, of course, killer music.
As much as I would’ve loved to have gone to the Jayhawks at the Cannery Ballroom after the awards show, but this little blogger was exhausted and needed to rest up for work in the morning and a full Friday night of tunes.
On Friday I booked it from my job at the end of the day down to the Sirius XM auditorium in the Bridgestone Arena for a live broadcast of Outlaw Country. Mojo Nixon was there, of course, in a goofy shirt and frayed cut-offs. The performances and banter was all great. Up first was Luther Dickinson from North Mississippi All-Stars, followed by the uber-talented former punk rocker Kenny Vaughn, who showed us all a thing or two about what it means to be an excellent guitarist, and finally The Bottle Rockets played an acoustic set, which was a great new way to see them.
I rushed home to grab some dinner and showed up at the Cannery Ballroom early enough to catch the second half of the Secret Sisters. They played some great old covers and some good original songs. I can see why people have been saying some great things about them, their voices are wonderful and blend so well. Next up was Keb Mo who played some sweet blues with his son on the drums. He played a short set, only 30 minutes, but he did just play the Ryman.
Next up was the show I’d been waiting for – Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller. They performed a good mix of covers and originals, told some great stories, and Buddy SHREDDED on a sick industrial-looking guitar. Sadly it had to end and my exhausted (and un-cool) self hit the hay.
Saturday was the day of free Americana festivities. I made my way to Americanarama at Grimey’s at noon for some tacos and spent the next few hours digging through stacks of CDs and vinyl and, as always, I found some sweet stuff including a purple vinyl “Purple Rain” 45, Dire Straits Brothers in Arms on CD for a dollar, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 45 single, some finds from Bloodshot Records, and more. And I didn’t find any empty CD cases this year!
Of course, there was also music at Americanarama. I got to catch sets from David Olney, Amy Speace, Derek Hoke, Glossary, and our good friend Paul Burch. Glossary and Paul’s set were particularly awesome and I would’ve loved to have stayed for more, but an awesome Musicians Corner was about to start so I had to jet over to Centennial Park. Unfortunately I had the worst time finding parking. Needless to say it was kind of a bummer that I couldn’t find parking in the park when I wanted to go to a park event because of Georgia fans tailgating for the Vanderbilt game, so I ended up missing the entirety of the Tom T. Hall tribute.
At least I got to see the wonderful Ben Sollee, Brian Wright (again!), and the fabulous Nanci Griffith. I saw Nanci a few years ago at Arrington Vineyards and she was every bit as great. The woman sings some great songs and I about died to her her version of “Across the Great Divide.”
I was in such a state of joy after Americanarama and Musicians Corner that I completely forgot to to back out Saturday night. Sorry Saturday lineup, I dropped the ball on that one. Still, it was a great festival, as it is every year. Americana Festival is really one of my favorite festivals in Nashville. They always keep it simple and about the music. Oh yeah, and big congratulations to fans of Americana in general, because Americana is now an officially recognized word! Yay!