Americana 2013: Say What?!

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.

Elvis


Lets cut the small talk, I got a new record out. It’s already a million seller. I got a million of ‘em in the cellar.

Scott Miller


You’re fucking quiet. We could all just chat and stuff.

Scott Kempner of the Del-Lords


On this version lets change the music and the words. Keep it fresh.

Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets, preparing to do a second take of the one song that they played during a CMT Edge taping


This is called “No One Knows Nothing Anymore.” I’d like to dedicate this to the major labels.

Billy Bragg


In this digital world where songwriter credits have disappeared along with royalties….

Robert Hunter, accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting


Thanks. You oughta hear that one in tune.

Scott Miller


I’m a little out of tune but I’m going to play a blues song so it’s OK.

Parker Millsap


You guys are like the two old men from the Muppet show up there.

Matt Mays, to the sound guys perched on a balcony in the back of the High Watt club


I borrowed the title from the Ray Bradbury novel, only to be informed that it is actually from Shakespeare.

Lucinda Williams, introducing her song titled “Something Wicked This Way Comes”


I got these short pants on. No peeking. Keep your eyes up here.

Mojo Nixon, referring to his shorts as he sat down on a high stool


One of the reasons that I started working with Plowboy [Records] was I was told that I could subvert country music from within.

Legendary punk songwriter and guitarist Cheetah Chrome


I’m the office boy.

Cheetah Chrome, on his role at Plowboy Records


I’ve known this guy since we wore dog collars together back in the 1977.

Cheetah Chrome, introducing Alejandro Escovedo


Escovedo: So you remember?

Drummer: I know the name.

Escovedo: That’s good. My band doesn’t remember the name.

Alejandro Escovedo, teaching the house band one of his songs


Parker Millsap: Did you just call him ‘Cracker’?

CMT crew member: That’s his name.

Exchange while Millsap was setting up for a performance at the CMT Studios


We did a tour together in June and I’m lucky to be alive.

Joe Fletcher, on touring with JP Harris


I sarcastically said that this song was my version of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together.” The journalist misinterpreted it and wrote that I was inspired by it.

Samantha Crain, introducing her song “I’m Never Going Back”


Nashville has a problem with body parts.

Lucinda Williams, quoting Robbie Fulks on the Nashville establishment’s hesitation to promote certain songs


The one advantage of being in a band that looks like roadies is that you actually are roadies.

Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets


There ain’t nothing better than a real honest to God encore. A lot of bands do the bullshit encore.

Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets.


I’d like to play one from his back catalog, meaning pre-Mermaid Avenue.

Billy Bragg, introducing his cover of Woody Guthrie’s “I Ain’t Got No Home. “


That’s like bucket list stuff for a record store.

Grimey, of Grimey’s Record Store, after Billy Bragg played his entire first album in the parking lot behind the store


Miller Lite, the beer of kings.

Patrick Sweany


My dad is hunting or he would be here tonight.

Holly Williams, accepting Hank Williams’ lifetime achievement award at the Americana Music Awards


I don’t know why you’re clapping, the man just died.

John Fullbright, responding to the applause after he played his song “Fat Man”


We’re 31 years old and they think we are emerging.

The Milk Carton Kids


[We played] rockabilly before they had a name for it. We just thought it was hopped up country music.

Duane Eddy


We’re the organization that used to Sue people.

Cary Sherman, CEO of the RIAA, introducing himself


Click here for more Americana Music Conference coverage.

Photo credits:  Mayer Danzig.

Americana 2013, the Sounds, Part 2

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.


Lucinda Williams

LUCINDA WILLIAMS

The Americana Conference instituted a new tradition this year: a special Sunday night closing performance, kicked off by none other than Lucinda Williams. Even better, she did so by playing her debut album in its entirety. It was a refreshing reminder of her songwriting prowess, punctuated by some wonderful stories about the songs on that classic album.

After a short break, she and her band returned for second set that surveyed many fan favorites from the rest of her impressive song catalog. Throw in some choice covers, such as an electric take on Neil Young’s “Rocking in the Free World,” and special guest Jim Lauderdale and it was the perfect way to close out the conference.


HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF


I’d heard some buzz about Hurray for the Riff Raff, the musical collective centered on the songs of Alynda lee Segarra. The group was ragtag in the best sense of the word, rootsy and care-free. At the end of her set, tour mates Spirit Family Reunion joined in for a hootenanny of the finest order.


Tribute To Eddy Arnold, Sirius/XM Studio, AMA, Nashville, September 20, 2013

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO and the TRIBUTE TO EDDY ARNOLD

A wonderful collection of musicians descended on the SiriusXM studios for a special tribute to legendary Nashville musician Eddy Arnold. Artists ranging from Chuck Mead to Cheetah Chrome, backed by an impressive house band, performed classics from the Arnold catalog.

But what to do when there was time to fill after Alejandro Escovedo closed the tribute performances? Why have Escovedo perform a few more songs, of course. Escovedo taught the house band a couple of songs from his most recent cd — “We’re gonna get this right” he said before they launched into their fourth take on the first song. Alas, I had to leave before the closing cover that saw Cheetah Chrome and Bebe Buell join Escovedo and company for a rousing take on Iggy Pop’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”


SHANNON MCNALLY

I caught McNally’s set in hopes that she would perform a few songs from her outstanding recent tribute to the late Bobby Charles. Well, she didn’t disappoint, sprinkling a few Charles classics amongst her own wonderful compositions. She and her band brought Louisiana and Mississippi to Nashville with a set that sauntered and strolled.


SHAKEY GRAVES

Sure, there are a number of fine one-man bands out there. What sets Shakey Graves apart, however, is the quality of his songwriting. His catalog is filled with songs that are a bit bluesy, definitely rootsy and chock full of infectious melodies.


Buddy Miller & Friends, The Cannery, AMA, NAshville, September 20, 2013

BUDDY MILLER

What can I say other than this: a Buddy Miller performance is not to be missed.


Click here for more Americana Music Conference coverage.

Photo credits:  Amos Perrine.

Americana 2013: The Sounds, Part 1

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.


Patrick Sweany

PATRICK SWEANY

Sweany delivered what was, hands down, my favorite showcase performance of the week. He and his three bandmates shook the room with their electrifying blend of rock, blues and soul. Sweany is a force to be reckoned with – a triple threat as a songwriter, singer and guitarist.


PARKER MILLSAP

I’ll ‘fess up and say that I stumbled across Millsap by accident. I had my times wrong and showed up at the CMT Edge Studios expecting to see the Bottle Rockets but found Millsap instead. One song – all that he performed for CMT Edge – and I was hooked. The Oklahoma native’s Pentecostal upbringing infuses his music, a wonderful mix of old school country and gospel that is ripe with energy and humor.

Millsap’s official showcase the next evening cemented my opinion. He and his two bandmates captivated the crowd with between song banter that nearly rivaled the music.


Bottle Rockets

BOTTLE ROCKETS

One hates to see a band have to cancel their showcase appearance. In this case, however, there was a silver lining (for me at least) in that the Bottle Rockets were asked to play an extended set. It’d been awhile since I had seen the boys and they sound as good as ever.

I caught them three times in a single day: a special acoustic taping for CMT Edge, an electric “requests” set at a backyard afternoon party and the aforementioned extended official showcase.

Now come on fellas, how about a new record? The new songs that you played sounded great.


ST PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES

After learning about this outfit as part of our recent Muscle Shoals coverage, I made it a point to catch their showcase. Damn if they didn’t get the joint shakin’. Singer Paul Janeway’s performance was as powerful as his voice. Not to be limited by the stage, he wandered into the crowd as he sang. Well, he was limited a bit – by the length of his mic cord, which prevented him from making his way farther across the room. It was a high energy and soulful set.


Billy Bragg

BILLY BRAGG

It’s always a special treat to see an artist play an album from start to finish, even better when it is an unexpected surprise. Such was the case when Billy Bragg showed up at Grimey’s Record Store for an afternoon appearance. After kicking off with some new songs, he grabbed his electric guitar and launched into a complete rendition of his debut release. As was said after his appearance, “that is bucket list stuff for a record store.” And for the fans, as well.


Click here for more Americana Music Conference coverage.


Photo credits: (c)2013 Chrissy Mauck, courtesy of Fender Guitars (Patrick Sweany); Mayer Danzig (Bottle Rockets/Billy Bragg).

Americana Music Conference 2013: The Awards Show

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.


Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight, AMA Awards Finale, The Ryman, Nashville, September 18, 2013

Any discussion of the Americana Music Conference has to begin with the annual Americana Music Awards. While other award shows rely on spectacle, the Americana Music Awards relies on authenticity.

The magic starts even before the music begins. The feeling that one gets walking into the legendary Ryman Auditorium – the long-time home of the Grand Olde Opry – defies description. Just contemplating the history of the room and the incredible artists who have graced it’s stage over the years can send a tingle down one’s spine.

Although the evening ostensibly recognizes individual achievement, it is more a celebration of Americana music. A house band led by Buddy Miller and featuring 2013 instrumentalist of the year Larry Campbell backed most of the artists who performed throughout the evening. Moments like John Fullbright’s stirring “Jericho” and Stephen Stills’, joined by Buffalo Springfield bandmate Richie Furay and new collaborator Kenny Wayne Shepherd, blistering “For What It’s Worth” are burned into my memory.

The various lifetime achievement awards were especially moving. Emcee Jim Lauderdale took great pride in awarding longtime Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter one for songwriting. Hunter accepted the award and then treated the crowd to a spectacular solo acoustic version of “Ripple,” which Lauderdale said was Hunter’s first public performance in a decade.

Americana Music Association Awards, The Ryman, Nashville, September 18, 2013

Dr. John was among the other lifetime achievement award winners. His acceptance speech was short and colorful, as one would expect from the good Doctor. He then joined the house band and guest guitarist Dan Auerbach in a fiery take on “Walk on Gilded Splinters.”

Dr. John returned to the stage to kick off the finale with a short solo piano performance. At age 72, he hasn’t lost his touch. He was then joined by many of the evenings presenters and performers for a rousing take on the Rodney Crowell co-write “Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight.” How often do you get to see Dr. John, Buddy Miller, Richard Thompson, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Shovels & Rope, Tift Merritt, Billy Bragg and many many others performing together? This was one for the ages.

You can stream the entire Awards show courtesy of NPR here.

Americana Music Association Awards, The Ryman, Nashville, September 18, 2013

Americana Music Honors & Awards 2013 Winners:

  • Album of the Year: “Old Yellow Moon,” Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
  • Artist of the Year: Dwight Yoakam
  • Duo Group of the Year: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
  • Song of the Year: “Birmingham,” Shovels & Rope
  • Emerging Artist of the Year: Shovels & Rope
  • Instrumentalist of the year: Larry Campbell
  • Trailblazer Award: Old Crow Medicine Show
  • Spirit of Americana / Free Speech in Music Award (co-presented by the Americana Music Association and the First Amendment Center): Stephen Stills
  • Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist: Duane Eddy
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive: Chris Strachwitz
  • Lifetime Achievement for Performance: Dr. John
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriter: Robert Hunter
  • President’s Award: Hank Williams

Americana Music Association Awards, The Ryman, Nashville, September 18, 2013


Click here for more Americana Music Conference coverage.


Photo credits:  Amos Perrine.