Outlaws and Earls – Day 5 in Nashville

Read about our day five at Americana Festival in Nashville


The day I met dobro maestro Jerry Douglas.

Today (Thursday 18 September) started with another walk through Music Row, past the recording studios and music business offices.  We came upon RCA Studio B where numerous hit recordings were made by Elvis Presley and many others.



Our destination this morning is the Soulshine Pizza Factory where Canadian indie label Six Shooter Records is showcasing four of its artists, under the banner of Outlaws and Gunslingers.

We were looking for a coffee on the way, but to no avail.  Instead, our arrival at Soulshine had an interesting shot glass thrust upon us.  As it was just noon, it seemed rude not to accept.  Also being given away were CDs of two of the bands playing today, with the promise of free food on the way as well.

Securing a (standing) table up the front, we listened to Harlan Pepper from Torronto who were first on the bill, a young, energetic outfit.  Oh Susannah followed, a lady with a strong voice and country-flecked style.  NQ Arbuckle were a lot of fun, the lead singer exuding charisma and their Irish rock was infectious and uplifting.  For me the pick, though, was Sean Rowe, an intense-looking man with the deepest voice.  I’ve been impressed by the spirit and individuality of his new release The Salesman and the Shark.  The song “Shine My Diamond Ring” was memorable.




From there we ambled a few blocks up to the Hutton Hotel where the Conference is being held.  I picked up my Americana Music Association registration goody bag and spent around a hour at the vendor hall where I picked up some useful information and met some interesting industry people.  Catching up briefly with Australian friends who had just arrived, it was then time for a coffee and a walk to The Gulch to the Turnip Truck for some fine-food groceries.

A delicious home-cooked early dinner – steak and vegetables – at the house and time to go to the Yazoo Brewery for a treat.

The Earls of Leceister is a new collaboration, featuring dobro maestro Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Shawn Camp and other bluegrass alumni. The performance was traditional in sound, look and projection.  Three mikes, two shared between five of the band members as they constantly shuffled on stage to share the front.  This bluegrass super group was a standout, highlighting the new release.  The crowd was unfortunately noisy as if many were there to sample the myriad local brew options, rather than the musical performance.


DSC00895 EarlsofLeicesterAfter the show, I purchased the CD and was lucky to have a few words with Jerry Douglas about dobro playing and instruments.

A walk to the Mercy Lounge ensued.  Amy Ray was good – rocking material from an album she made as a break from her punk work.  Good voice, full of energy and heart.  Robert Ellis was next, off the back of his Americana-nominated Lights From The Chemical Plant album. I’ve seen him live more than a handful of times, but tonight was the first with a band.  Terrific singer and songwriter and a powerful set.  During the night I literally bumped into Cruz Contrears front man for The Black Lillies.  We’d met in Memphis around a year ago and he and the band have been on the road just about ever since – they’ve obviously got more stamina than me.

The Lillies put on a great show at The High Watt.  The sound was bit thick early on where I was standing, but much better down back.  They’ve become so tight since I saw them and it was a rocky, punchier show compared with a year ago.  A great pleasure to catch them again.

Lake Street Dive was playing back at The Mercy Lounge – they’re pretty hot on the scene at the moment.  The singer Rachael Price has an outstanding voice.

Time to go to the relatively nearby venue 3rd and Lindsley.  Nearby in terms of motorised transport – alas the Conference shuttle bus did not show for a while, so we hiked for about thirty minutes.  I’d seen Lucinda Williams at the same venue a year ago but tonight it was Paul Thorn. Another performer that has toured Australia but, given the travel economics, cannot afford to take a band all that way.  Paul’s recorded material has been more optimistic, with a strong gospel sentiment and it showed tonight.  His has become a message of salvation and benevolence to others.  The set was full of upbeat, almost anthemic rock songs (he was wearing a T-shirt with Hope on the front).  It took a while to get the sound right, but it was worth the wait as it was the best sound of the night.

It was over by around 1.15 and we were home by 2am, thanks to the very helpful shuttle bus driver who took us on a special trip and dropped us close to home.


Read about our day five at Americana Festival in Nashville

Read about our day five at Americana Festival in Nashville

Read about our day five at Americana Festival in Nashville


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Author: Rob Dickens

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