AmericanaFest 2023 – Day 4
Friday at AmericanaFest began with a special treat and ended with a surprise sighting of a legend.
Before any of the showcases, I was able to attend a private listening party for Aaron Lee Tasjan’s upcoming, untitled album, including a live performance of one of the new songs. The record is slated for release early next year, and, while I can’t say much, I can tell you that It’s different than what we’re used to from Tasjan. And it’s very, very good.
Later in the evening, it was off to The Basement to see Autumn Nicholas. The singer-songwriter who wowed folks in Bridgestone Arena at the Love Rising event back in March filled this tiny space with her big voice (and an excellent band) and her own empathetic songs, including “Be Gentle,” plus a medley of gay icons, featuring Tracy Chapman and Little Richard (Why? Because she damn well can). She also teasingly admonished the crowd with, “Welcome to queer church. If you don’t like it, there’s lots of exits.” During this week in Nashville, at least, no one was going anywhere.
Next up: a quick hop over to Analog at Hutton Hotel, a gorgeous performance space with a warm, laid back ambiance, to see the artist behind one of my favorite albums this year, Jess Williamson. She performed solo (backed on a few tunes by some nifty backing tracks on her iPhone, a trick she learned after a poorly-timed tour van breakdown) and featured songs from Time Ain’t Accidental, including “Topanga Two Step,” plus my favorite track from last year’s Plains album (with Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield), the heartbreaking “Abilene.”
For my final stop of the night, I needed a loud, raucous room that was close to home, and The 5 Stop fit the bill. Chance Emerson had just taken the stage when I arrived, and the Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter (who’s distantly related to Ralph Waldo Emerson) has a gift for charming the audience while slowly breaking their hearts (check out his “Angela”).
During a break between bands, I noticed that none other than the legendary Lucinda Williams was out taking in the music, a ritual she’s been indulging in longer than I’ve been alive. And she was treated to one hell of a string band finale, with Americana Award-nominated banjo player Kyle Tuttle bringing some of the best players in town to Five Points, including a last-minute appearance from fiddle player Phoebe Hunt (give her excellent Nothing Else Matters a listen). Before launching into the classic “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music), Tuttle surmised that The 5 Spot audience was just “that type of crowd.” He was spot-on.
Look into the schedule for Americanafest 2023 here: http://www.americanamusic.org
Enjoy our coverage of previous days here: AmericanaFest 2023 Day 1