Show Review: a Photojournalist’s View: Six Best Things I Saw at Americanafest 

Show Reviews

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1. Alexa Rose happened to be the first set I caught the entire week and might have been my favorite. With the fading last glimmers of sunset radiating around the TRUE music venue at the Cambria Hotel, Alexa took the stage backed by a four piece band. Her voice is as haunting as it is captivating and her lyrics sound finely crafted. Alexa took those in attendance through songs like, “Medicine for Living” and “Pale Golden Flowers.” If the set is any indication of what we can expect from her album coming out in October on Big Legal Mess, think it’s safe to say Alexa’s album my just be one of my Top 5 of 2019.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2.Hogslop String Band was high on my list of artists to see at this year’s Americanafest. Their set Thursday night was the most energetic I witnessed throughout the week. From jokes that were just corny enough by the band’s resident comedian, Pickle, to the harmonies and stellar musicianship of the entire group, those in attendance had two choices: leave or be a part of the energy radiating from the stage. By the end of the night there was a line of dancers snaking around the room behind guitar-player, Gabriel Kelley. With fun songs like “Makin’ Moonshine” and thoughtful, slower songs like, “When to Let it Go,” Hogslop String Band hits the highs and lows, balancing it with jokes, commentary and energy that is reminiscent of groups from the early days of country.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3.Paul Cauthen’s Big Velvet Revue – one of the most anticipated events of the week for me was the lineup of artists at the Big Velvet Revue at the Basement East. With so many artists on the bill, typically three songs were the max. For artists like Summer Dean, Aubrie Sellers and Kendall Marvell that I haven’t had the chance to see live yet, three songs just wasn’t enough.  The sheer mount of talent that rotated on and off the stage that night was mind boggling. Staples of country/Red-Dirt like Jason Boland and Jack Ingram were interwoven with newcomers like Joshua Ray Walker and Leah Blevins. As usual, Paul put together a stellar show and his own set, complete with his signature dance moves, was like a jolt of electricity to an already electrifying lineup

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

4. Emily Scott Robinson released her album Traveling Mercies in February of this year and it’s quickly found its way into my regular rotation. Emily’s set on Thursday night at 3rd and Lindsley was a mixture of songs and stories, often about traveling in the RV she and her husband have been living in for the last couple of years. Drawing from some of her real-life experiences, Emily’s set felt like you were sitting down with a friend you’d known for a long time that was catching you up on their life, but in song form.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

5. Bloodshot Backyard Bash – even with soaring temperatures, the outside temps couldn’t compete with the fire that artists like Ruby Boots and the Banditos brought to the outdoor stage. Bloodshot Records has some of my favorite artists on their roster, like Sarah Shook and country punk band, The Vandoliers. Ruby Boots and Jason Hawk Harris were among the artists on this year’s lineup that I hadn’t seen yet and they didn’t disappoint. Playing with Ruby Boots was Brandy Zdan and these two women rocked the crowd to their core. The most powerful song of the day came during Ruby’s set, when she sang, “I Am a Woman” solo and without guitar. It was in a word…mesmerizing. Newcomer Jason Hawk Harris drew the ever expanding crowd in with songs like, “Cussing at the Light” and “Phantom Limb.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

6. Charles Wesley Godwin- I almost didn’t make this set and after the fact I was glad I did. I’ve been listening to Charles and his album, Seneca, that was released earlier this year off and on, but hearing it live was the best way to end a full week’s worth of good music. “Seneca Creek” and “Coal Country,” somehow seemed so much more powerful in person, but it was Charles’ cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown” that stopped me in my tracks. Anyone who can take a song that I love, make it their own and in the process make me love their version more is a true talent in my eyes. I’ve already checked his touring schedule to see if I can catch him again sometime this year, which is a testament to how good his set was on Friday night.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply!