If anyone is familiar with trying catch showcases at AmericanaFest as they criss-cross the city of Nashville, they know the task can be daunting. Hard choices have to be made about continuing at a venue or checking out another run of artists at another spot.
But Americana Highways definitely made the pit stop at Concord Records’ “Americana From All Sides” on Tuesday night at The Optimist in Nashville. This presented as one of the strongest showcases for opening night of AmericanaFest 2022. Alt-country stalwart Shooter Jennings hosted the event.
The short sets of a few quality songs provided great snap shots of talent for festival attendees not familiar with all the musical artists. The crowd was attentive and enthusiastically engaged.
In order of appearance the artists covered who presented are:
Early James from Birmingham, Alabama released an album on August 19 titled Strange Time To Be Alive. Sierra Ferrell guests a duet on the album, “Real Low Down Lonesome,” infused with flamenco-style chords. James has an oblique, mysterious writing style which lends to curious interpretation by listeners. Audience members provided rapt attention to his performance.
Bella White brought her Appalachia-style heartbreak to the stage. She is originally from Calgary, Alberta. Her debut album Just Like Leaving was released in September 2020. Rounder Records, under the umbrella of Concord, looks to 2023 being a breakout year for White and her performance at The Optimist testified to the strength of her emergence in Americana music.
Check in from the West Coast, Logan Ledger played a short set of country noir accompanied by Nashville pedal steel guitar veteran Russ Pahl. The Bay-area native debuted his self-titled album Logan Ledger in April 2020. All three songs of his Concord set were from his forthcoming album projected for a spring 2023 release. This exciting sampling made it one to remember from the Concord/Rounder family.
Ledger was also accompanied by Shooter Jennings on the final song “Midnight in L.A.” — note that Jennings is the producer on Ledger’s forthcoming album.
Katie Pruitt was signed to Rounder Records in 2018. Her 2020 album Expectations came out to wide acclaim and she is working on a follow up album. Pruitt is on the storyteller side of country along, but she also packs the punch of a folk rock musician. She’s a real trooper. Not just with her personal story of emerging in the South as queer, but also her break into the musical scene was as authentic as one can be. She belted out her personal songs of identity in powerful characteristic fashion on Tuesday night to grand reception.
For those who know her work, Sierra Ferrell defies any labels under the big umbrella of roots music.
The West Virginia native displayed her elements of country, gypsy jazz, folk and Latin music styles at the showcase. Ferrell also nails down the role of performer to a perfection. The following night at the Americana Honors and Awards, for example, Ferrell put on a dazzling performance, fully decked out in costume. She was also a big hit in 2021 with her AmericanaFest showcase at 3rd & Lindsley.
Ferrell brought the roar of the crowd to conclude the Concord night of Americana from every imaginable direction.
Caroline Spence opened the evening showcase (not pictured) and released her newest album True North on March 4. It was regrettable her set was missed. She’s been having a great year which includes some show dates opening for American Aquarium.
Judging by the caliber of musical talent at the Concord showcase, and their forthcoming projects, there are a lot of great things coming up to look forward to in the Americana music world.
Look over the lineup and maybe pick up some merch from AmericanFest 2022, here: https://americanamusic.org/events/americanafest-2022
Enjoy some of our additional coverage of AmericanaFest 2022 here: At the Americana Music Awards, Legacy Is Celebrated and Hope For The Future