For the third time in my many years of doing this website ( yeah I’m old) I went down to the big Nashville gala that assembles downtown mostly in September each year that is called Americanafest. Now in 2020 the official dates will be September 15-20th, just a few days after this year’s times.
Honestly I cannot approach this festival like all of the others I write about for many reasons. I mean honestly I LOVE the music and the people here, but it doesn’t replace the people that make Kickin It On The Creek or Muddy Roots happen. It doesn’t replace that feeling of HOME, or the welcome of rolling up those beautiful roads into that community of friends.
I took in many of the panels and offerings of the first couple days there and didn’t go to any of the shows until Friday but I’m going to write about many of the shows I DID see, the first day I actually saw music was The Fourth Annual Bloodshot Records Backyard Bash.
Bloodshot Records’ 25th anniversary celebration continues as we return to the heart of hip East Nashville for the fourth annual Backyard Bash at The Groove record store during AmericanaFest! Please join us in the peaceful backyard at 1103 Calvin Avenue from 5PM to 8PM on Friday, September 13th (spooky!). As always, the party is free and open to the public. All are welcome: fans, friends, industry bigwigs, smallwigs, and no-wigs. Come one, come all. Bring the kids. Bring grandpa. Heck, bring your pet raccoon and a jar of lightning bugs.
Enjoy special performances some of our best and brightest stars…
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers
Jason Hawk Harris
…while you enjoy complimentary cocktails by Deep Eddy Vodka, as well as beer from Lagunitas Brewing Co!
Our longtime friends at Recording King will be giving away guitars (yes, actual guitars!) to some lucky fans. And our literary-minded Chicago neighbors at Field Notes will have a special gift for all attendees! More details on that soon.
The Rolling Feast truck will be on hand to keep everyone good and nourished.
We hope to see you in Music City for one of our favorite Bloodshot events of the year!
Many of these bands and artists I have covered in the past at other festivals and house shows across America. But the first young lady called Ruby Boots, I have never saw live yet. She is from Western Australia, and at a very young age, she took it upon herself to venture out into the world to escape a bad environment.
My main man Mr. Joshua wrote a review about her last album (which was her Bloodshot debut) and you can read about that HERE. She played a set with another guitarist beginning with a breakup song called ‘I’ll Make it Through”. I liked her solo style just as much as I enjoy her full band on the album, and to truly absorb her music, I’ll have to see her with a full band. Before deciding if I would see her multiple times I would have to consider many other things, but if she was on a festival bill I would make it a BIG point to catch her set.
“It’s So Cruel” was next, now this one sounded VERY different on the album than it did today. I enjoyed the album version better on this song, and the other songs like “I Am A Woman” showcased her vocal better. She spoke to me on this song as a person, and allowed me to look into her heart more. Now, myself as a music lover I sometimes identify less with the women than I do the men, because being a man I haven’t been through what they are singing about. But I try my best to put myself in their shoes, or position.
However I WILL say this as a music FAN I enjoy the women more than the men onstage. I think that they put more fire into their performance, and have a better ambiance overall. This round here, I took in more of the gals than I did the guys at Americanafest simply because the offerings were better to my tastes.
One thing about her new album last year was that the songs were all over 4 minutes long, and that is unusual to be honest for ALL of them to be that long. Her last two songs on the set were “Somebody Else” and she closed with “Believe In Heaven”.
The Banditos have a new album in the works to follow up from 2017’s Visionland, so a few of the titles I didn’t recognize today. This was my very first time to see Miss Mary Beth Richardson wail those songs upon us in furious fashion. Mr. Corey Parsons, and Mr. Stephen Pierce started the band in 2010, and actually today was Mr. Danny Vine’s last show with them. Mr. Randy Wade and Mr. Jeffery Salter make up the remainder of this band.
Their 2015 self titled album boasted the song called “Still Sober (After All These Beers). They announced that their new record will be available in about another month, so we will keep our eyes peeled for that one for sure.
Mr. Jason Hawk Harris put out a GREAT debut album on Bloodshot Records called Love And The Dar. But when I finally got to see him live I got to witness his fabulous guitar abilities with songs like “Cussing At The Light”. Songs of drinking and despair come from his soul on stage as he sings about medicating his beat down heart with alcohol and party life.
He opened with a song called “Phantom Limb” which on the album had some really good twang, and it didn’t sound as good live accept for his vocals. HIS VOCALS are absolutely flawless live, and they vividly shine through his audience with creative vigor.
He closed with a song called “Giving In” that spoke to me REALLY close because I TOO wish that where I am is where I’ve been. TODAY I am recovered as an addict, and I have a GREAT JOB with a good life. I used to be a REALLY bad mess and honestly didn’t think I’d be alive to see 40.
Sarah Shook And The Disarmers you have read about on here from MANY festivals and shows. But THIS TIME she is playing some NEW material for us in hopes to release a new album soon. The new song she played was called “Goodbye From Kansas”, and I’ll maybe chat with her in the future about her plans. I consider her a good friend, and I love her to death, many times I enjoy their news in private just as a fan myself. MANY TIMES they tell me things I DO NOT print because I do this for enjoyment not for hits or attention.
“Good As Gold” was her first song, and she closed with “New Ways To Fail” both songs coming from her latest album called “Years”. And as we all enjoyed this music in this intense heat, she jokingly recalled how many times I have been to her shows in crazy hot weather. This summer was really arid and HOT, all of our tobacco crops were good from all of our spring rain, but our beans dried up BADLY. We had 90 days of 90 degree heat and NO RAIN!
They played “The Bottle Never Lets Me Down” however I’ll tell you this, she hasn’t been drinking lately as an individual, and I applaud her for that. Miss Sarah, if you read this I’m quietly rooting for you, and I love you very much my friend. ANYTIME you need me please call upon me!
I moseyed onto other venues and other shows tonight, see this is how Amercianafest operates. There are SO MANY venues involved, and SO MANY side shows to see all over town. You need to download a phone app to see the daily and hourly schedule to take this festival in. ALSO BUY A LINEUP SHIRT EARLY, because they sold out by Friday.
Miss Carson Mchone is a gal that I had on my stage I sponsored in 2014 in Kansas City called the Westport Roots Festival and she was fabulous. She is talented, beautiful and a GREAT person to be around. I quickly sprinted over to the The Basement to see her play a FANTASTIC SHOW.
Off the 2018 Carousel she played “Sad” and “Drugs” now, that song showcases her vocals SO WELL, and I LOVE it on the album with that warm tone steel guitar tone. From her 2015 album called “Goodluck Man” she played “Poet” that was a good song live. Her vocals on the song “Really Good Friends” is also amazing, I LOVE that curl she puts on the end of words, she has a voice of gold.
Many of her songs are so well written, and I think she is VASTLY overlooked by MANY independent music sites and podcasts, and radio. Besides me, I only know of a few blogs that give her any love, and folks that needs to change NOW, because she is amazing on stage! “Ain’t You Lucky I Love Being Lonely” is amazingly written in my opinion, and it’s one of her best songs.
I’m going to rave about her because she has been banging around the Texas local clubs before she was even legal to drink, and she has put in more dues than many of the other local gals you would call her peers. She has many musicians backing her up nowadays, like the song “Dram Shop Gal” where I have heard it played many different ways live. This is just an amazing song with amazing lyrics.
She closed her set with “GTDB ( Good Time Daddy Blues)” from her first album, and I really didn’t get to hang around very long to talk to anybody, because on this festival you need to MOVE or you will not get to see everything you want to see. Someone like me that loves all types of music has to move all over the city, I mean you are literally at 10 venues in a weekend there. It’s insane to try to do, but kind of a fun challenge to amass such a plethora of sets in such a short span of a week.
After that show I went over to the Mercy Lounge and The Cannery Ballroom, and the High Watt, which is pretty much the hub or epicenter of the entire festival here this week for the music. The panels are actually all over the city, and there are side package shows all over as well.
On Saturday I attended two of them like that, and they were great. Friday night I covered one of the bands that is releasing a new album tomorrow ( as I write this ) November 1st, called Long Time Comin’. Mickey And The Motorcars started out in Idaho, but quickly delved into the Texas Red Dirt community.
The two Braun brothers that are in the band started the Red Dirt festival in Idaho called The Braun Brothers Reunion. From the 2008 Naive album they played the song called “Twilight” before bringing up Alejandro Escovedo to play a song called ‘Sister Lost Soul”.
They played another song with Mr. Alejandro and played some Bob Dylan songs before showcasing some new songs for us, and by the time I complete this article, Mr. Joshua will have a nice album review up for this album I will link in here. There were a plethora of bands putting out new albums here during this week, so many of these sets contained new music.
“Rodeo Girl” was a new song which will be track number 2, “Stranger Tonight” which is track number 9. This was a song about finding a gal that is getting over a breakup, and a man that is looking for a stranger. Perhaps he is also just getting over a breakup as well. In either case it’s a song about a one night stand. They closed their set with track number 7 called “Break my Heart”.
The one complaint I had about the main venue here was the loud talking during the music. I HATE a rough and rowdy, obstreperous crowd. Back toward the bar area I had so many people rudely chattering about stupid crap they could talk about outside, that it ruined the enjoyment of the new songs.
I got to see some of Lilly Hiatt set that was right after the Motorcars at the same bar. Actually, i closed the entire night out at this main venue here with American Aquarium whom are also fresh on a new album called Lamentations.
Miss Lilly Hiatt played “Everything I Had”, and the other song I got to watch her play was called
American Aquarium played the Mercy Lounge at 11pm, and I got pretty tired so I quit for the night after their set. Like I said they played so many new songs as well, and most of them were good. I just simply couldn’t get up close to the stage here, from moving venues so often, and with such a large crowd of people. I’ll tell you what it was hard to even buy merch, it was THAT PACKED!
From the 2018 Things Change album they played “The World Is On Fire”, which was my favorite song on this album for sure. Mr. B.J. Barham is now a sober and focused front man for a solid well oiled machine, that blasts songs down your throat with vigorous fury.
Mr. Shane Boeker is on lead guitar, drummer is Mr.Joey Bybee, the bassist is Mr. Ben Hussey, and Mr. Adam Kurtz is currently on pedal steel and electric guitar. I didn’t get any good pictures of their set tonight, but I REALLY enjoyed their music toward the back of the venue, as they played “Tough Folks”.
I went back down to Grimey’s on Saturday for their wonderful party they had, in that wretched heat. When I got there it was bustling with excitement as Mr. Orville Peck played a set and was signing albums of his 2019 release called “Pony”. Just as Mr. Paul Cauthen was there performing songs from his new album called “Room 41′.
Mr. Paul Cauthen just played some of his new songs acoustic, but his new album is packed full of exciting new sounds, while maintaining his signature unique vocals. To be honest, there is nobody else quite like him out there today. He played the song called “Holy Ghost Fire” , that opens this album on the first track.
This is a upbeat partying album that is a little Bluesy, some Country and some soulful rock and Roll. This album is a nice sophomore album to his 2016 My Gospel album. He played the song “Prayed For Rain” and also the JAM song on this album called “Cocaine Country Dancing”. That song is a complete JAM either with full band or acoustic version as well.
“Angel” and “Slow Down” were also both included in his brief set. This album has a very solid 70’s disco vibe to it even, and it often references the hard party life of that time as well. I GET IT, and I like to sometimes veer off of a strict Country diet and onto this record and some Aaron Lee Tasjan and others that fit this little niche. It’s not in any way a bad deal here, and it encompasses a temporary getaway for me as a listener to envision a club on a red carpet with ladies falling at my feet.
I went over to the Westin Nashville where they had a HUGE party package upstairs on the rooftop stage area. There were a few other bands before the target one I wanted, and that was Mr. Corb Lund, who also has a new album out called “Cover Your Tracks”.
I have been a BIG Corb Lund fan for many many years now ever since I first heard Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer in 2005, he was one of the first Red Dirt artists I began to enjoy. Now, this new album here has many covers, and a few originals he co wrote with other people like Mr. Hayes Carll.
Like the vastly inventive song “Cover Of The Rolling Stone” which he played tonight here, and is a damn fine song about getting famous and not getting famous within his style of music. Now, from this second album here called Hair In My Eyes Like A highland Steer, he played that thumping good tune called “Good Copenhagen”.
That song had some GREAT steel guitar twang and solos in it on the album, which he brought out to us live here tonight. “Gonna Shine Up My Boots” was included in this set as well, that song came off 2014’s Counterfeit Blues and I have heard him include that song a few times.
“Bible On The Dash” is another superb song that he wrote with Mr. Hayes Carll, and is also one of his Honky Tonk thump songs with those awesome Country lyrics. This is indeed the bible belt and this is a funny story where these boys are rolling around with guns and drugs, and they get away with it all because of a Bible on their dash.
He ended his iconic set with his timeless piece of “Rye Whiskey/ Time To Switch To Whiskey” , and as I moved onto my next venue I wiped off my sweaty head and ate some free food. You know, I’m going to say this for real though…all the free drinks and food cannot replace the fine folks at Kickin It On The Creek or Muddy Roots..those festivals are HOME. However I did indeed have fun nonetheless here this week.
One of the ladies names you WILL SEE on MANY Top 50 lists of 2019 is none other than Miss Michaela Anne, I can already promise you’ll see her on mine. This new album was pure fire on a major scale! And I was pleasantly surprised at how good the basic cheeseburger was at the City Winery In Nashville. I was initially not impressed with their fancy food they offer there, but my waitress assured me they can make basic country food.
Her set tonight was nothing short of amazing, and he vocals were on point tonight. I’ll be featuring her shows more into the future, as I highly anticipate her rise. This third album was by FAR her best, and she has not yet reached her zenith yet..oh no. She WILL become a powerful entity within Country Music for sure.
She opened with “Just look At Us” but the BEST song of the set and in my opinion one of the best on Desert Dove period is the song “Child Of The Wind”. This song is VERY well written and enjoyable, it spoke to me as an individual and it displayed her growth in her writing skills. This song presented a strong mental picture to me as a listener and I can sit back and just let my mind wander within the story.
“One Heart” was next and this was one that was more personal from her to us. I think this album overall shows us more of a personal side into her own mind and soul, and that is a powerful gift for any artist to share with us fans. The more I listen AND I MAN REALLY LISTEN to this album the more I understand HER as a person. “If I Wanted Your Opinion” is indeed a good song right there, even though it’s comical, it has twang and rhythm. It’s totally powerful to the female cause that rejects the concept that women are objects.
I REALLY enjoyed the purpose and subject of this song, and this set here pretty much solidified my answer that the ladies outdid the men at Americanafest overall. I just enjoyed their songs and presentation overall more than the men I saw this week, and I’m not afraid to say that on record! “I’m Not The Fire” was included in this set tonight, and it was a good solid addition to her set as well. I’m not the fire, I’m just the coals is a GREAT line here, this song is a MASTERPIECE of writing for her, hell for anybody. You ever hear a song and say “I’m jealous I didn’t write that”? ….yeah I’m jealous for sure.
The Cannery Ballroom boasted the final bands of this festival for me. The POWERFUL all gal string band called Della Mae that consists of lead vocalist/guitarist Miss Celia Woodsmith, 2-time national champion fiddle player Miss Kimber Ludiker,mandolinist Miss Jenni Lyn Gardner, and upright bassist Miss Zoe Guigueno.
Now if you want GREAT HARMONIES and AMAZING musicianship then these ladies are what you want right here. The only bad thing is that we haven’t had a new album for 4 years from them yet. However many of these were new songs I believe.
This band just absolutely KILLS IT on stage, and they are one of my personal favorite women bands, and are VASTLY overlooked by ALL of the underground websites and media. I think many of their songs they played here tonight were new songs, because I didn’t recognize some of them, and I know their albums WELL.
There is SO MUCH FUN to have this week in town, and even though I say other festivals are more of a family type welcome feel, I’m NOT telling you to OMIT Americanafest totally as a whole. I mean if you sit and figure out the bands I got to see for the 100.00 a patron spends I TOTALLY got my ticket money’s worth. Although I had a media pass I spent a LOT in merch money!
There were SO MANY places to watch music and eat, if you cannot find music to watch here this week, stay home. Because I’m going to warn you, the traffic is HORRIBLE, the parking is hard, and the venue changes are rapid, but with the shuttle service it’s easier. If you LOVE MUSIC then this a GREAT way to find bands in the afternoons, and MANY of the record stores have GREAT sales going on.
This community is a GREAT opportunity to make business deals and network with other people that do what you do, and to expand your audience no matter what you do in the music business. I will always continue to patronize this solid week of agonizing schedule wreckage, to further my hunger for new music.