Readers’ Pick: Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone by Lucinda Williams

You picked Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone by Lucinda Williams as your favorite for the week of September 30, 2014.

Readers’ Top Picks (last 4 weeks)

  1. Single Mothers by Justin Townes Earle (13) [9/9]
  2. Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone by Lucinda Williams (9) [9/30]
  3. Ryan Adams by Ryan Adams (9) [9/9]
  4. Different Shades Of Blue by Joe Bonamassa (7) [9/23]
  5. Reasonable Amount of Trouble by Jesse Winchester (5) [9/9]
  6. Love & Logic by Sons of Bill (4) [9/30]
  7. Home Is Where the Hurt Is by Jp Harris & The Tough Choices (4) [9/23]
  8. Shine for All The People by Mike Farris (4) [9/9]
  9. Saturday Night / Sunday Morning by Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives (3) [9/30]
  10. Paradise Outlaw by Pieta Brown (3) [9/30]

Don’t forget to vote in our weekly poll to help us make this list.

Americana 2014: 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.


Joe Fletcher

JOE FLETCHER

I couldn’t think of a better way to close out the festival showcases than with Joe Fletcher’s late Saturday night set. It was a solo performance but crackled with an energy that would make some full bands green with envy. Fletcher leaned heavily on tracks from his outstanding new album You’ve Got the Wrong Man, bringing to life the many vivid characters and stories that inhabit it.


ANTHONY D’AMATO

It was a real treat to hear solo acoustic versions of songs from The Shipwreck from the Shore, D’Amato’s just-released new album. Sure, I love the orchestral production that he created in the studio. Hearing the songs stripped down, however, really showcased the poetry and, dare I say, the melodic quality to his lyrics.


Marty Stuart

MARTY STUART

Stuart and his band the Fabulous Superlatives showed up at the SiriusXM studios for one hell of a party, recorded for Mojo Nixon’s Outlaw Country show. They had fun from the moment they hit the stage, playing along with the pop country being aired before the recording even started. Stuart is a walking history of country music, sharing stories alongside a strong set of songs that included tracks from his new double album, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning.


ALLISON MOORER

An annual Conference highlight is visiting our friends at CMT Edge for their special in-studio performances. The artists typically play a single song (which eventually appear on the CMT Edge site) followed by a brief interview. In Moorer’s case the song was a heart-wrenching stunner from her forthcoming release.


John Moreland

JOHN MORELAND

I heard someone say recently that their true judge of artistic talent is when a songwriter garners extensive praise from his or her peers. In that context I’ve heard more than a few artists list Moreland among their favorites. I was a late-comer to his impressive 2013 release In the Throes but, as the saying goes, better late then never.

I was fortunate to catch two of his solo acoustic sets in Nashville. It was my first time seeing him live and he more than lives up to the hype. He captivated the audience with the beauty of his songs.


J.P. HARRIS

The Nashville-based Harris sure knows how to throw a party. Not only did his band deliver a knock-out performance to celebrate his brand new release Home Is Where the Hurt Is, but Harris cooked up a jumbo pot of gumbo for those attending his Sunday afternoon event. If you like your music with a healthy serving of honky-tonk, then Harris is your man.


Click here for more Americana Music Conference coverage.

Photo credits:  Billie Jo Sheehan (Joe Fletcher, John Moreland); Mayer Danzig (Marty Stuart).

2014 Americana Music Awards

On September 17th, the glitterati of the Americana Music Scene gathered at the historic Ryman Theater for their annual Awards show and presentation.  Mayer and I were lucky enough to procure a seat to the festivities.  You can get a full list of the award nominees and winners here, but these are the highlights from our perspective.


Jason Isbell walked away with a sweep of the big 3 for Southeastern; Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year.  His performance of Cover Me Up with wife Amanda Shires was excellent, and afterwards he noted that he’d written the song for her.  He recounted how scary it was to sing it to her the first time, and in accepting the Song of the Year award he encouraged the audience to “do what scares you”.


The House Band for the show was led, as always, by Buddy Miller.  This year it also included Don Was on bass, Ry Cooder on guitar, and Ry’s son Rocky Cooder on drums. They were joined by renowned session musicians Tim Lauer (keyboards), Brady Blade (percussion) and the McCrary Sisters (vocals).  A lot of people would argue Miller is the premier guitarist in Americana music today, but after the awards show I think you’d have to say it’s a two-man race with Ry.  Cooder really turned it loose from the opening number, a sizzling version of Willie Dixon’s You Can’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover.  His duet with Flaco Jimenez on a Norteno number was also a highlight, as was his and Miller’s playing on Valerie June‘s “You Can’t Be Told.”

(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Americana Music)

(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Americana Music)

The Ryman has been called by many the Mother Church of country music.  The church theme covered several excellent performances, not the least was Loretta Lynn singing Coal Miner’s Daughter on the very same stage she debuted at the Opry 54 years ago to the day from the awards night.  Also taking advantage of the spiritualness of the place was Parker Millsap doing Truck Stop Gospel and St. Paul & the Broken Bones creating their near-religious-experience aura with The Grass Is Greener.

 

 

 

(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Americana Music)

(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Americana Music)

Finally, you have to make some kind of effort to pick a favorite in a night with over two dozen performers.  No disrespect to the youngsters, but the edge goes to a couple of veterans.  Marty Stuart And His Fabulous Superlatives nailed a cover of No Hard Time Blues, a Jimmie Rodgers number performed in honor of the Rodgers Museum.  Stuart also brought a train lantern originally owned by Rodgers which gave his introduction and performance an extra air of authenticity. After a heartfelt intro from Keb Mo, who noted the man was doing world music before there was such a category, Taj Mahal did a version of Statesboro Blues that trumped any other version I’ve ever heard, and there are a lot of them.


The evening finished with an ensemble performance of Johnny Cash’s Get Rhythm, that featured Cash family members Carlene Carter and Roseanne Cash.  With that, the audience went into the night and the beginning of 4 nights of showcases that Mayer and I will cover in future posts.

 


Click here for more Americana Music Conference coverage.

Readers’ Pick: Different Shades Of Blue by Joe Bonamassa

You picked Different Shades Of Blue by Joe Bonamassa as your favorite for the week of September 23, 2014.

Readers’ Top Picks (last 4 weeks)

  1. Single Mothers by Justin Townes Earle (13) [9/9]
  2. Somewhere Under Wonderland by Counting Crows (10) [9/2]
  3. Ryan Adams by Ryan Adams (9) [9/9]
  4. Step Back by Johnny Winter (9) [9/2]
  5. Different Shades Of Blue by Joe Bonamassa (7) [9/23]
  6. Reasonable Amount of Trouble by Jesse Winchester (5) [9/9]
  7. Home Is Where the Hurt Is by Jp Harris & The Tough Choices (4) [9/23]
  8. Shine for All The People by Mike Farris (4) [9/9]
  9. Plain Spoken by John Mellencamp (3) [9/23]
  10. Live My Life by Sena Ehrhardt (3) [9/2]

Don’t forget to vote in our weekly poll to help us make this list.