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Americanafest 2015

Americanafest 2015: Week in Review

Posted on by Ryan Schmitz in Americanafest 2015 | Leave a comment

Americanafest 2015 Review

I am still trying to decompress after the 5 day long musical bar hopping session known as Americanafest 2015.  There were tons of memorable moments and too many amazing acts to see with not enough time.  So sitting here today it is my task to distill the week into a few key moments.

Americanafest 2015

The Bluegrass Situation Jam-  Three straight hours of non-stop bluegrass music.  This odyssey could have its own article dedicated to its highlights.  Led by the house band, The Bluegrass Situation featuring Chris Eldridge and Noam Pikelny of Punch Brothers fame, what must have been 20 different artists took the stage.  Personally, the closing jam with Della Mae, Eddie Berman’s crowd-moving rendition of “You Can Call Me Al” (more on him later), and what was lovingly known as “Mandolin Armageddon” were the highlights from the marathon jam.

The Dustbowl Revival- This LA based group (pictured at the top of the page) brought a lot of versatility and tons of energy to the City Winery Thursday night.  I went into that show with a fairly limited knowledge of their work and left a tremendous fan.  These guys have an amazing breadth of music with songs ranging from dixieland jazz to old time blues.  I can’t say enough about the talent in this group.  My personal highlight had to be when they played the Gillian Welch standard “No One Knows My Name.”  Everything about that song was perfect but the harmonies were enough to drop any jaw in the audience.

The Wood Brothers at Americanafest 2015

The Wood Brothers- I knew going into the festival that this show was going to be among the best around and I could not have been more correct.  They played twice over the week and each show brought a different energy to the crowd.  Their main showcase on Friday night was unquestionably the place to be, we saw classics like “The Muse” or “Postcards From Hell” as well as cuts from their new album Paradise, my personal favorite being “Never and Always.”  These guys are truly one of the most authentic sounds in Americana these days and really deserve all the attention they can get.  Here is my favorite track on the new album so far.

Photo curtesy of newfrontiertouring.com

Willie Watson-  It’s tough to describe Willie Watson’s set properly.  He played to a PACKED Station Inn, late on a Friday night.  Hell, even Dave Rawlings stopped by to catch Willie’s set.  He prefaced his show with a simple sentiment, “I am a folk singer, this is a folk concert” and he stuck strictly to that dictum, singing old traditional folk songs and having the audience sing responses, it was really a special show.

Photo curtesy of musicnobbery.com

Eddie Berman-  Last but certainly not least comes Eddie Berman.  I mentioned him earlier when he played his rendition of Paul Simon’s classic “You Can Call Me Al,” which was a very bold move.  But damn this dude absolutely killed it!  The reaction of the crowd to his song stood alone in a night full of energy and enthusiasm.  I made it a point to catch his show Friday night at The Listening Room and I was as far from disappointed as one can possibly be.  Berman has one of my new favorite sounds, employing different instruments with beautiful subtlety to find music that is both gentle and resonating.  His band played and sang beautifully with a set that included guitars, drums, upright basses, even an accordion thrown in there.  The group was living proof that well placed accordion can actually sound amazing.  This is definitely a band to keep an eye on because there is a lot of talent here.  They are on the verge of releasing a new album though no release date is set yet.  However, they already have an EP and LP out with some borderline hypnotic songwriting and covers.  Just to prove my point, here is Berman’s version of the Bruce Springsteen classic “Dancing in the Dark.”

Where To Be At Americanafest 2015

Posted on by Ryan Schmitz in Americanafest 2015 | Leave a comment

For those of you still hungry for some good music festival action look no further than Americanafest in Nashville, TN.  As you may have read on Eric’s earlier posts from his Cross Country Songbook, Nashville is a music Mecca with tons to offer.  Well next week Nashville will open its doors to Americana fans of all shapes and sizes with a 5 day festival celebrating folk, bluegrass, country, the blues and many others, basically it’s all about American music.  Here are some acts to catch for the upcoming festival:

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats- Wednesday at 10:00 PM in the Mercy Lounge:  Rateliff has been blowing up these days with his hit “SOB” getting some major radio play.  The Night Sweats’ entire self-titled album is virtually flawless, I haven’t been able to stop listening to them since their show at Newport Folk Festival.  The much needed mix of soul and roots music makes them an act that are not to be missed.

Watkins Family Hour- Wednesday at 11:00 PM in the Mercy Lounge:  Another group that totally killed the Newport Folk Fest, Watkins Family Hour will take the stage immediately following Rateliff.  This is some of the best foot-stompin’ music out today so passing up a chance to catch them in a small venue would be nuts.  Also, the line-up has “surprise” billed for after their set so basically Wednesday night you better find yourself in the Mercy Lounge cause there promises to be at least 3 straight hours of amazing music.

Daniel Romano- Thursday at 12:00 AM in the Basement: Whether you call it Thursday night or Friday morning, midnight in the Basement is the place to be.  Daniel Romano will take the stage promising his trademark blend of bluesy alt-country.  Personally, I’m praying to hear “She Was the World to Me,” but with the very recent release of his latest album If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ there will undoubtedly be an awesome set to see.

Brian Wright- Friday 9:00 PM at Basement East: I first saw this guy open for the Milk Carton Kids in Boston and I was blown away.  He is a wildly accomplished singer songwriter with a ton of music out there.  This Nashville native is sure to kill it up on stage.

The Wood Brothers- Friday 10:00 PM at Basement East: These guys are some of my all time favorites and they have a new album coming out!  That means this show is going to be awesome for a couple of reasons.  It won’t be all new material but we will get some samples of the new record AND we will for sure hear some of the classics.  These guys have one of the most authentic Americana voices out there right now so definitely make sure you make it down to their show.

Willie Watson- Friday 11:00 PM at The Station Inn: Willie Watson of Old Crow Medicine Show fame has established himself as a true Southern voice in his solo career.  With his album Folk Singer, Vol. 1 he has shown exactly how good American roots and folk music can be.  With his name all over the Americana spectrum he kind of embodies the festival itself.  If you want to catch American roots music at its very finest you NEED to see Watson at The Station Inn.

There are a lot of honorable mentions on this list, with tons of acts to check out there will be no shortage of amazing music next week in Nashville.  Here is a link to the full showcase lineup for those interested and for good measure, here is a video of Willie Watson playing the old folk song “Rock Salt and Nails.” Damn…