“You Need To Be More Known”
Saturday 20 September 2014 in Nashville TN. The last full day of Americanafest.
We walked from our house to an interview and performance from Billy Joe Shaver, a noted songwriter of many hits including “Honky Tonk Heroes”, “You Asked Me To” “Old Five and Dimers Like Me” and “Live Forever”. His songs have been recorded by The Allman Brothers, Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Tom T. Hall, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, to name a few. Bob Dylan mentioned Shaver in his song “I Feel a Change Comin’ On” on the album, Together Through Life (2009) – “I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver, And I’m reading James Joyce”.
What a story from this 75 year old – numerous marriages (at least three to the same woman), two fingers cut off in a sawmill accident and his talented musician son Eddy passing away due to a heroin overdose. Billy, having been through some very dark times, is now a born-again Christian. He performed a number of songs with his son’s friend Jeremy Woodall, including “Honky Tonk Heroes”, “You’re Going To Miss Me When I’m Gone”, “Old Chunk of Coal” and “I’ll Love You As Much As I Can”. Long In The Tooth is his just released album and you can find out more about the album and his background here. The session closed with a full-house standing ovation.
Back to our trusty Dunn Bros for a coffee and lunch. We had ninety minutes to pass before the next event so we re-acquainted ourselves with the Frothy Monkey where a glass of French rose was delightful.
Today’s two hour session at The Church was a televised tribute to The McCrary Sisters and the Fairfied Four, almost 100 years of gospel tradition. The Sisters and The (male) Four are an example of unaccompanied gospel music at its very best. The Fairfied Four featured on the “O Brother Where Art Thou?” soundtrack (“Lonesome Valley”). The harmonies and the kindred spirit were on display – an uplifting and joyous celebration, and all in the setting of a two hundred year-old beautiful and unique treasured building. The acoustics were perfect.
Special guests were the icing on the cake – Amos Lee (“Jesus Gave Me Water” was sublime), Buddy Miller (an inspired “Hold The Wind”), Van Hunt, Lee Anne Womack and Lucinda Williams (a supreme and deliciously elongated version of “Get Right With God”).
The night’s Showcase events had started. The Riverfront Park concert was well underway (featuring The Lone Bellow and The Avett Brothers). As we are seeing the Avetts next week in Columbia Missouri and we are in great need of a square meal, we dine at one of my favourite eateries in Nashville – Demo’s on Commerce St and 3rd Avenue. Steak and greens, salad for entree and a shared bottle of Cabernet gave us renewed strength.
We walked around twenty minutes to The High Watt to see the last two songs from Caroline Rose, an impressive young singer – see link. Her strident anthem ” I Will Not Be Afraid” was impressive.
A catch up with friends around the Mercy Lounge ensued, as well as watching the whole set of the swamp fox Tony Joe White.
Now, Canadian outfit Blackie and the Rodeo Kings are a favourite of mine – two albums I have, the latter release South a beautifully realised and unique roots music collection. However, I don’t know that much about the band outside of this. At the Downtown Church earlier in the day, the backing guitarist I recognised by sight, playing tasteful slide guitar with the McCrary Sisters and the Fairfield Four. I racked my brain and consulted a few friends, even strangers but his identity escaped me.
So fast forward to midnight at The High Watt for Blackie and The Rodeo Kings – and there on stage is the said guitarist who of course is Colin Linden.
But here’s the thing, he’s by himself. One other member of the three piece band is sick and one is logistically challenged ie did not make the gig on time. Colin explained this (or as much as you can in a place like this), promised a guest later and launched into some great slide playing – a good voice too. Anyway, I have to say I was in two minds about staying given the disappointment of not seeing the band proper. But stay I did and it was a great set, he was joined by a hastily arranged bass player and Tony Joe White’s drummer. I determined that I needed to find out more about the very talented Colin Linden. There was in fact a special guest and that turned out to be Lucinda Williams and she performed “Get Right With God” with fire and power.
After the set, we got the opportunity to meet with Lucinda which was a treat indeed.
The thing that rang in my ears after the set was Lucinda turning to Linden on stage and remarking to him: “You Need To Be More Known”. Amen that.