Americanafest Day # Last

The day began a little untidily. We went to the Downtown Presbyterian Church for the Gospel Brunch. After finding a distinct lack of action there, other than worship, we realised that the Brunch was in fact at the Station Inn.

We arrived at the Inn by taxi quite late to find it sold out. Another taxi ride to The Basement where Sounds Australia was putting on many Aussie acts, a BBQ and fund raising for the local Australian Rules football team – the Nashville Kangaroos. Jenny and I arrived there so early that we helped Bill Chambers and Tim Rogers from the Hillbilly Killers with their gear. Tim bought Jenny and I a beer.

The Hillbilly Killers played a short set of three songs “Roadhouse Blues” by Ernest Tubb a real joy. Catherine Britt has some voice. What an interesting and intriguing trio and what will they do next, if anything.

Anne McCue played for a brisk 15 minutes – a lot more swing in her music than since I last saw her – the band included a sax and clarinet.

Anne also played guitar with the next performer Tracey Bunn. Kelly Menhennett has a great voice and a lot of upside. “Small Dreams” was a delightful song. Then Gena Rose Bruce followed on the lengthy bill – she won a Telstra Pathways prize of a trip to the USA to perform here. Melody Pool I mentioned in a previous post and Katie Brianna followed her. I did have a problem with the sequencing of these acts – five solo performers in a row with pretty slow and heavy material. It would’ve been much better to intersperse into the bill, say, the Hillbilly Killers or Anne McCue just to break things up a little.

By the time the trio Breaking Heart had finished, I was hankering for some sunshine and fresh air out the back. Jenny, Barry and Susan were there and it was a good scene. The other attraction was that The Basement is besides Grimey’s Record store – just up the fire escape in fact. So I had a good look around there – it’s got a good groove.

Back inside after a while to see Emma Swift perform some material from her new EP, produced by Anne McCue.

So unfortunate that I missed The Borderers, an Adelaide outfit that has stood the test of time, but Jenny and I did get a good chance to chat with Jim and Alex from the band for quite some time – I definitely will be looking out for them when they are next in Melbourne.

Mustered Courage were excellent again.

By this time we had abandoned plans to squeeze into The Bluebird Cafe before going to see Lucinda Williams – we were invited by artist Brad Cole but it would not have worked out.

We needed to get to the venue 3rd and Lindsley quickly but, alas and alack, no cabs. Would you believe that Barry and Jenny managed to thumb a ride – very nice gentleman. Daniel Fisher was the kind soul, a fiddle and mandolin player with a band named The Hendricks. He dropped us right at the venue – an angel.

We worked the lines, got our entry and our seats – ending up on a table that proved to be fascinating. The support act were The Kenneth Brian Band – a country-fried southern rock band that had a lot of stage presence. Really good set for a hard spot, supporting Lucinda, closing off the Americana Festival and all being recorded for radio. I suggest that you take a look at “Welcome to Alabama” on YouTube and you’ll get a good slant of the band’s persona.

Lucinda Williams – I think I have seen her live about four times to date. But nothing came close to what I witnessed this night.

The gig was centred around the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of her third and self-titled album, one of my absolute favourites. The band was much the same as on her last tour of Australia – Stuart Mathis on guitarist (awesome), Butch Norton on drums and David Sutton bass.

The sound was a good as I have ever heard. Lucinda was relaxed and her voice strong and true – the great songs just kept coming, from her album aforementioned and others – she showcased a new song “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. Jim Lauderdale guested on many of the songs. A cover of Gregg Allman’s “I’ll Make My Cross again” a blistering band building to the encore Neil Young’s “Rocking In The Free World” with Kenneth Brian band participating.

A joy. The best concert I have seen this year. The best sound. The audience rapturous and adoring. It was a stunning night and perfect way to close Americana.

As we ambled out, I went to the sound man and congratulated him on his efforts. Turns out that hos name is Mark and he is Neil Young’s audio engineer.

We need to get back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we will be heading east to North Carolina.

Bravo the Americana Music Association – thanks for having us.

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Site of the Aussie BBQ

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Emma Swift

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Mustered Courage

Author: Rob Dickens

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