Americana – Friday September 19
By the time Friday rolls around the music industry get togethers get into full swing. Today you could go to the Folk Music Canada Luncheon, the SXSW Party, the Wild Ponies Happy Hour, the Visit Meridien (Mississippi) Party, the Carolina Ball or the Atomic Music Group Happy Hour. The exhibit hall at the Conference was open and the panels dealt with music licensing for film, musical duos, website development, syndicated radio and management. As you can see, the parties outnumber the panels – and rightfully so!
In my case, the afternoon was spent at the Sound Stage recording studios for the recording of Off The Record for Triple R FM and the Australian community broadcasting network. The plan was to record the program in segments and immediately send it down the line for replay just two hours after the recording.
Even as a broadcaster it is interesting to go into one of the famous Nashville studios and benefit from an engineering team that made recording musicians’ performances plus interviews an absolute breeze. Sound Stage has been operating since 1968 and was home to all of Jerry Lee Lewis’s country recordings and has been home to more than 500 hits, including songs from Johnny Cash.
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings recorded some other early material here, which was appropriate because they were the first guests on the program, coinciding with the release of the new David Rawlings Machine album, Nashville Obsolete. They spoke at length about the intent of the album and how much they loved the concept of a store based on stocking a host of obsolete objects. Welch produced a long list from her phone that included items such as an old tape dispenser. I noted that their music is timeless rather then obsolete.
Other guests on the program included Gretchen Peters, Canada’s Corb Lund along with a bunch of Australians: Henry Wagons, Tracy McNeil, Raised By Eagles, Ruby Boots and Liam Gerner.
Music choices in the evening were numerous and decisions were difficult. I opted to see Sam Outlaw at 3rd & Lindsley to start and it was a good choice. Earlier this year we saw him in Australia playing a solo show but this time he was with his band and it certainly made a difference. Outlaw thanked Americana radio for its support and joked that he would never be heard on mainstream country radio which seemed rather odd to me because his songs sound perfect for that medium. As I remarked to someone, ‘If mainstream country radio can’t play this guy it must be terrible.’ Sounding like a young Dwight Yoakam, Outlaw has a batch of really catchy songs. His latest album Angeleno, which he mentioned several times, was produced by Ry Cooder (which he didn’t mention at all!).
Then it was off to Mercy Lounge for Corb Lund who also had a band and Tulsa’s John Moreland who sounds like Nebraska era Bruce Springsteen and was impressive. Downstairs at the Cannery Ballroom, one of three venues in the same building (along with the High Watt), Josh Ritter had an absolutely packed house enthralled. I had not realised that Ritter had such a large following in the USA – either that or most of them were there to see Glenn Hansard who was on at midnight. A quick trip around the corner to the City Winery (my favourite venue here) allowed me to see Margo Price, who has just been signed to Third Man Records and sound somewhat in the vein of Eileen Jewel. The evening ended with the midnight show for Austin’s The Band Of Heathens. The word ‘band’ in their name is apt because at times they do sound like The Band, with some great harmonies (the line-up also includes a keyboard player). The latest line-up seems to be the best so far and the songs flowed effortlessly.