Here are J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices with guest Nikki Lane performing a damn fine rendition of the Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty classic “After the Fire Is Gone.”
It can often be both refreshing and insightful to hear a stripped down version of a songs originally performed by a full band. Here’s a great example — Pete Donnelly of the Figgs offering up a solo take on one of my favorite songs from that band’s extensive catalog. The tempo is a touch slower than the original but the performance still maintains some of the song’s glorious edginess.
One of my favorite things about attending music conferences and festivals are the crazy comments that you hear along the way. Here are a few choice selections.
If it wasn’t for that guy we’d be doing this at a burnt out Kmart. Jason Isbell acknowledging that the awards show was being held on Hank Williams birthday.
I can’t tell you how foolish I feel accepting an award from Vincent Gill [while standing] on a stage with Ry Cooder. Buddy Miller accepting the award for best instrumentalist
He was world music before there was such a thing. Keb Mo presenting Taj Mahal a lifetime achievement award
They are only easy to play badly. Keb Mo on playing the blues
The music of my people became the music of all people. Keb Mo
We’re scheduling a post-production hair off. Robert Plant is invited but he’s already got a lifetime achievement award. The Milk Carton Kids, filling time while they waited for the teleprompter to be fixed
I’m a little disappointed. We got used to be nominated for things. We never win and you need to manage people’s expectations. The Milk Carton Kids, accepting their award for Duo/Group of the Year
He’s taken the outlaw country sound and started singing about turtles and stuff. Elizabeth Cook introducing Sturgill Simpson
We were supposed to be short. You weren’t so I’m not gonna be either. JD Souther to co-presenter Ken Paulson during their presentation to Jackson Browne
It’s part of the American character to say what you believe. Jackson Browne, accepting the Spirit of Americana / Free Speech in Music Award
This ain’t nothing you’re gonna see on TV. Browne stopping his performance to tune his guitar
As time went on it turned out to be a quite more generous song than she deserved. Jackson Browne introducing a song that he wrote about an ex-girlfriend
Life is a mess and there’s no reason that our music shouldn’t be. Joe Henry
May he who lives without sin have better luck this evening. Todd Snider
Where the fornication nation meets the salvation train. Mojo Nixon describing Marty Stuart’s new album Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
How much did you pay to get in here? You’re getting your money’s worth. Marty Stuart to the crowd after flubbing a guitar solo at a free show
Why don’t you love me any more? Guy in crowd
Is that a request or a question? Eileen Rose, responding to his request
Sorry about that. Young people ordering beers. A bartender apologizing for the delay that resulted from having to deal with an indecisive group
He’s got great hair. Mojo Nixon describing Marty Stuart
Here’s a song I wrote about someday being famous and paying my bills playing country music. J.P. Harris
Right. Guy in crowd
“A long, long time ago…” Robbie Fulks, kicking off his final song when the sound guy told him he had time for one more short one. I’m sure you can guess the song.
I’ve knocked over 2 of my 3 drinks. I’ve baptized this stage in wine & vodka. Cory Chisel
Here’s a new song. It’s about drugs. We did it for the first time this morning at a gospel brunch. Elizabeth Cook
Most people, even musicians, don’t know what producers do. Joe Henry
You listen really hard until it gets good. Joe Henry quoting a T Bone Burnett comment about producing
That’s what is great about music, it can be your friend when no one else can understand you. Mike Farris.
Sometimes the end of a lease doesn’t line up with the end of a relationship. Anthony D’Amato introducing “If It Don’t Work Out,” a break-up song
If you aren’t having a good time, it’s your own fucking fault, because this band is fucking awesome. Cory Chisel, referring to his pick-up band
You’re like a yard full of coon dogs that ate some bad possum. J.P. Harris to a quiet but attentive crowd
How’s everybody feeling,’cause I feel like shit. It’s too much fun down here. Lee Briante of the Far West after a long week of music and festivities
We just moved to the south and felt we needed to write a song to make us fit in. So this is a song a out biscuits. The Grahams
If you don’t know this, there’s something wrong with ya. Mike Farris introducing “This Little Light of Mine”
If I fuck up the lyrics you won’t know any better. Anthony D’Amato introducing a new song
Click here for more Americana Music Conference coverage.
Every fall, The Americana Music Association gathers members, artists and music fans together in Nashville for its annual conference. Starting with the annual Americana Music Awards and continuing through four days of showcases and panel discussions, it is a tremendous celebration of Americana music.
This was, hands-down, the highlight of the week for me. Ryan’s live performances in recent years have been solo acoustic, so I was thrilled that he put together a band for his Friday evening showcase.
To say that he didn’t disappoint would be an understatement. This was a rock show of the finest order, scruffy and authentic. The set featured a few songs from Boxers, his forthcoming electric guitar-fueled album, plus a number of classics from throughout his career.
Rumor has it that he will be doing additional band shows to support the new album. Do yourself a favor, don’t miss him when he comes to your town.
One of the nice things about visiting Nashville is the chance to see some local artists in their natural habitat. Local-boy Gordon took time out from recording his next album to play an outdoor afternoon show. He has a knack for telling vivid and entertaining tales of Southern life that are set to music that mixes healthy doses of boogie and blues. It’s a recipe for music goodness. I, for one, am eagerly and impatiently awaiting his next release!
I missed the Greyhounds at SXSW earlier this year and I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. The trio played the famed Blue Room at Third Man Records where they served up their distinctive style of classic R&B. I’m still not sure why there was someone in an astronaut outfit dancing on the side of the stage, but I’ll save that question for another day. They closed their set with a killer cover of Nilsson’s “Jump In the Fire.” (See ‘em play the song in this video from SXSW.)
Farris doesn’t tour much so I made sure to catch him for a Saturday afternoon set. He and his band, including a horn section and an animated keyboard player, got the joint jumpin’ with their distinctive blend of gospel and soul.
Sure, I’ve seen these guys any number of times around Boston. It was great to see the local boys making their Americana Conference debut. They clearly brought their “A” game – they always do – as they blasted through a raucous set of bluesy rock. They even threw in a ferocious country jam mid-set for good measure.
Armed with just an acoustic guitar and a beautiful collection of songs, the Austin-based singer-songwriter engrossed a Saturday evening crowd. His music is often filled with melancholy and is always emotionally charged.
Click here for more Americana Music Conference coverage.
Nashville singer-songwriter Rod Picott passed through Boston a few weeks ago. It was a special treat to hear him perform this song, one of my favorites from his 2013 release Hang Your Hopes on a Crooked Nail.