E2TG Takes on Americana Fest 2015 – Part I

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So…. I knew last night’s Sin City vs. Guitar Town event at The Basement East was going to be pretty darn incredible, but really….

Sometimes your friends and your heroes share the same stage…

Okay, I got there early to catch Paul Burch finish off the pre-show.  Let me tell you – not a bad pre-show.

Campfire Propaganda opened the set, and it was a delicious teaser for their upcoming October residency at The 5 Spot.  Campfire Propaganda are a collective of amazing songwriters working together to further their art and craft.  Founding member Tim Easton was not there – he is opening some dates for James McMurtry – but Nellie Clay, Megan Palmer, Brian Wright, and Darrin Bradbury all knocked it out of the park.

Next up was Jesse Dayton – taking a break from his current gig filling in for the ailing Billy Zoom on the current X tour.  Playing solo acoustic, he totally rocked the house.

Dayton was followed by an amazing jam lead by the one and only Aaron Lee Tasjan.  His band included Brian Wright and Jon Latham on guitars and Keith Christopher on bass. Guests included Lilly Hiatt, Allen Thompson (who did a Grateful Dead song) and Kevn Kinney!  Oh, and Brian Wright absolute killed on a Supersuckers song.

Jonathan Tyler delivered a really great set and he brought out Nikki Lane as his guest.

Keith Gattis was up next and sounded great.

And then, The Bottle Rockets just about tore the roof off the joint with an extended set.  They played several songs from their forthcoming album and also dug into their extensive back catalog.

Needless to say, the night was a blast, and it was so amazing seeing my friends sharing a stage with some of my musical heroes.  I saw a bunch of people including some I had never met in person before, and I even met a music blogger from Norway.

It’s kind of hard to believe that all that was just basically night zero of the American Music Association Festival.   I’m leaving soon for some AMA related events and trying to map out a somewhat reasonable schedule among the seemingly endless choices at hand.

Americana Music Fest Part V – Friday Night

So, when Friday night rolled around, I was running on about two hours sleep and a day at work – plus a 5 hour energy drink I got for free at Live on the Green.  So, to maximize my musical enjoyment and minimize my frustrations, I decided to stick to one venue.  I picked the Cannery Ballroom. The Cannery holds many great musical memories from back in the day.  Most of the shows I saw back in the late 80s were upstairs, but I know of a few shows which were downstairs.

Anyway, I arrived just in time to catch the last song of Shelly Colvin’s 8:00p.m. set, and I heard just enough to wish I had been there the whole time.  The song was beautiful. Shelly is a Huntsville, Alabama native currently living in East Nashville where all the cool people live (Blogger’s Note: I don’t live in East Nashville, so the last statement is obviously false).  She is a genuine, harmonica toting, folk singer.  


Up Next was Amanda Shires.  Amanda Shires is a Texas born singer/fiddle player, who also currently resides in Nashville.  The first thing I noticed was a familiar looking guitar tech.  Yep, that was Jason Isbell or as he was introduced later when he came on stage a few songs into the set, the future Mr. Jason Shires.  Amanda Shire’s music is Americana/Alt-Country friendly with strong Indie Rock street cred.  Ah hell, it’s just damn good music.  She was backed by a cracking band featuring Rod Picott and supplemented by Jason Isbell on a number of songs.

Next on the bill was Houston native and recent Nashville resident Robert Ellis.  I wasn’t all that familiar with his music, but I really enjoyed it.  It did a new song, Houston, as a goodbye to his hometown, and it reminded me, favorably to Steve Earle’s haunting Goodbye Guitar Town.  The set ran the gamut from slow sad country to all out rockers.  Bonus points in my book for having the lovely  and amazing Caitlin Rose out for a song.  I was a bit further from the stage for this set, so sorry for the quality of the pictures.

The headliner of the evening was the legendary John Hiatt, making a rare Nashville appearance. Hiatt is one of those larger than life/down to earth performers.  He took the stage and powered through an amazing set that included some songs from his (what was then) forthcoming  (out on September 25th) album Mystic Pinball and a slew of songs from across his storied career, including that one that Bonnie Raitt covered and the one Eric Clapton and B.B. King did.  He also, at the request of a loud member of the audience) did the classic Memphis in the Meantime.  I’ve been a huge John Hiatt fan for a lot of years, and this was just an incredibly fun show.  


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Americana Music Festival – Part III – Delta Spirit Live on the Green

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After The Dunwells’ set, the sun went down and it was dusk or so when the next band took the stage.  I had been pumped to see Delta Spirit since the show was announced, and apparently, I wasn’t the only one.  A mostly young (most everyone is young to me…) and enthusiastic crowd was electric as the stage was set.  

 I was still pressed up against the barricades in front of the stage.  Delta Spirit are a remarkable band.  The band formed in 2005.  I was a little late getting on board with them, in fact I first became aware of them in 2010 when I heard about Middle Brother the band that features John McCauley of Deer Tick (who I was already into), Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes (who I dig) and Matthew Vasquez of Delta Spirit.  That was what prompted me to really give them a listen, and I’ve been a fan ever since.  They have made some amazing records, but seeing them live was a revelatory experience. 

I was impressed by the energy and the passion evident in the music. You had to clap along to the songs. No I mean, you literally didn’t have a choice – it seemed like Matt Vasquez was going to leap off the stage, hurdle the barricade and throttle you if you didn’t clap along.

This felt like a punk show, but Delta Spirit is not punk. They play Indie Rock with a soulful and (appropriately) Americana spirit. What struck me is that it was interesting to see – over thirty years later, how the punk spirit has infused all kinds of music.  For Delta Spirit, who in a pre-punk world, would have probably been a folk-rock act with a CCResque soul streak, punk added an aggression and power which quite frankly make them so remarkable.  

I was bummed that my pre-arranged schedule for the night meant I had to bail before the set was over, but at least I got to hear another song and a half while I bungled my way through a crowded that filled the large park.  I was also bummed to miss The Wallflowers set which closed the Live on the Green portion of the evening… such is the life of a singular music blogger with places and people to experience… 

So yeah, I really dug Delta Spirit.  If you get the chance to see them live, do it.


Americana Music Festival – Part II – The Dunwells Live on the Green

We’ve written about Live on the Green the annual six week long free outdoor concert series put on by our favorite local commercial, independent radio station – Lightning 100.  This weeks show was officially listed as part of the AMA Fest, and it started off our weekend on a swell note.  

Live on the Green brings together some of my favorite things about Nashville. Lightning 100, the amazing Public Square Park – a large public green space on the roof of a parking garage where there used to be a big ugly parking lot and great live music.  Oh yeah, and my favorite morning DJ, Mary Brace introduced the first band!

The Dunwells kicked things off.  Shortly after I saw they were playing this event, they made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and impressed me.  I’d been looking forward to this show ever since.  The Dunwells are from Leeds, where I hear The Who once played live… The band is made up of two brothers, two cousins and a long-time friend.  The brothers were easy to spot.  Joseph (great name, by the way) and David  front the band.  They play an infectious blend of folksy pop music.  I managed to sneak my way to right in front of the stage and got some decent pictures.  The crowd was enthusiastic and it was a great, fun start to what would turn out to be an epic night of music.


Featured Friday Music Shuffle – Thank You Friends Mix

Well, well, well… I had the musical experience of a lifetime last night, and I am still trying to wrap my mind around the awesomeness of it all.

First of all, the evening started at Live on the Green which is a free live concert series put on by Lightning 100.  The Dunwells took the stage around 6:30.  I made my way up to just behind the barricade in front of the stage.  The Dunwells are young band, that included the Dunwell brothers, from Leeds in the England.  The sunset while the Dunwells were playing, so it grew darker as Delta Spirit hit the stage. I was really impressed by the energy this band has live. I had to bale at the very end of the Delta Spirit set to get to the Basement for an Americana Music Association Festival showcase.  This was no small task since during the Dunwells set as Delta Spirit was setting, a seemingly endless crush of humanity. 

So, I eventually pushed my way through the crowd and made my way over to The Basement in time to see Angel Snow’s set.  We wrote about Angel Snow last year.  She has an incredible and unique voice and along with her usual musical partner, Viktor Krauss (Allison’s brother), she writes great songs.  Viktor wasn’t present for this set because he was playing with Jerry Douglas. Angel Snow has a new album due out in a couple of weeks.

I left The Basement after Angel Snow’s set and there my night took it’s first and only hiccup.  I was intending to go see Mary Gauthier and Richard Thompson at The Station Inn. Unfortunately, two things happened. My mind did a timewarp thing, and I totally spaced on where The Station Inn is located.  See, up until a few years ago, The Station Inn was located right inside ‘V’ where 12th Avenue South and 11th Industrial split off. At that time, the area was pretty desolate otherwise.  The Station Inn has not moved, but the area is totally transformed. Anyway, by the time I finally made it to the club, a line had formed indicating the building was at capacity.  I figured the odds of enough people leaving between Mary and Richard Thompson for me to gain admission was not good, so I decided to head straight to The Rutledge, and truthfully, I’m really glad I did.  I got to that club just in time to see The Bo-Keys take the stage for some authentic Memphis Soul. The band is made up of people who helped shape the Memphis sound including folks who played with Isaac Hayes and Al Green including members of the Hi-Rhythm section, plus a truly awesome vocalist named Percy Wiggins who has a long and storied career of his own.  

Oh yeah, and while waiting for the Bo-Keys to play, I started seeing some familiar and famous faces….

The night ended (and the morning began) with a star-studded tribute to Big Star.  This set deserves and will get a post of it’s own, but suffice it to say, this was a musical high-light of my entire life. It was enough that as billed, Mike Mills of R.E.M., Chris Stamey of The Dbs, and Jody Stephens of Big Star were part of this bill, but that was really just the tip of the iceberg.

Needless to say, I’m running on just over 2 hours of sleep and a 1/2 bottle (so far) of 5 Hour Energy that I got at Live on the Green.


And yes, even with all that, we do have a shuffle this morning.  We’ve skipped the last couple of weeks of Featured Friday simply because we’ve had a bunch of Featured Artists show up throughout the week, but that has not been the case this week, and I kind of feel like I’ve been neglecting my Featured Artist… so I decided to shuffle up a playlist of songs from these artists.

First up we have Nashville’s own Korby Lenker with Lovers and Fools.  

Next, we have Florida-based singer/songwriter Alex Bennett with Jesus Blues off his fantastic One Way Train album. 

Couldn’t find a video for Jesus Blues…

And finally, we have And the Giraffe who were kind enough to explain the Nashville connection we alluded to on the Featured Artist page. Josh Morris who is 1/2 of And the Giraffe now lives in Nashville – so there you have it..  We have Magic 8 from 2011s Something for Someone.

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Thursday Morning Music Shuffle – AAAAAAAAAAA! Mix


Isn’t it always the way, that when you have the most to write about, you have the least amount to time to wright.  I got to see Jo Wymer playing an in-the-round show last night, and I got to meet her in person.  She is a great person, an amazing singer and a terrific songwriter!  I enjoyed a lot of the music last night, and I got some great pics, so expect a full report, but probably not until after Americana.
I had the great pleasure to be part of a focus group for a panel of Americana radio stations, and offer feedback to help shape the future of Americana Radio or something.  It was pretty cool to hear the wide variety of stations, ranges of music and approaches from stations from all across the US. 
I also handed out some cards so if any of you radio guys are checking out Ear 2 the Ground for the first time. Hey! 
In the same way you need to support your favorite Indie artists and your favorite Ear to the Ground Music Blog, it is likewise important to support radio that plays the music you love.  Whether it is a college or public station or an independent commercial station send some love and/or money their way. 
I about ran up the hill this morning which in the shape I am in is not such a great idea, but I was accompanied by some cool music – so let’s get to the Shuffle of the Morning:
First we have Tony Castles a due from Brooklyn from their Sharon Stone EP which is due out in October.  The song is called One Tone Man .  You can stream the new album here:

Next we have a song that still sound great 23 years later. It’s The The (one of the great band names ever) from Mind Bomb – an album that featured Johnny Marr (Smiths) on guitar.  The song we have is The Beat(en) Generation.

Yesterday, I named dropped The Foresters, an awesome power-pop-punk band from one of those New England states I don’t know how to spell… you know Connecticut. Some totally awesome dude described the band this way: “The Foresters: Average age 10.6667 but their amps go up to 11.”  – Okay that awesome dude was me, but I can’t stand it when I “waste” a great line on Facebook…. But more importantly, yes, the Foresters are three brothers named Nork who are 12,11 and 9 years old.  The song we have today is called Better. You can grab it for Name Your Price at Bandcamp:

And finally, Do It For the Bay (Featuring DaVinci) is a brand new track from the Oakland, California “Cloud Rap” duo. It’s from their forthcoming album, Bossalinis & Fooliyones and is produced by New York producer Harry Fraud. Dig it:



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Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle – Representin’ Mix

Well, well, well… my Americana weekend doesn’t officially begin until tomorrow, but the music starts tonight.  Freehold, New Jersey’s own Jo Wymer, who is a fantastic blues singer was one of part of our first class of Featured Artists back in June, is part of an in-the-round tonight at 7:00 at the Red Rooster on Demonbreun St. at the very end of Music Row near the Musica statue.  Get out to Red Rooster if you can.

I also want to send out a reminder to check out our Featured Artists of the Month – you can find out about them by going to the Featured Artist Page on the right sidebar or HERE:

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First up we have some Punkcore music out of Salt Lake City.  You never know what is going turn up on Ear to the Ground do you?  I got connected to S3X via a #FF from a really awesome group called The Foresters  from Connecticut (if you keep up with on Facebook or Twitter you already know about these kids.  We’ll have more about them here – very soon – let’s just say they make Northbrook Garage look like the Rolling Stones – agewise) – Here S3X is representing their hometown with 801 which also features Fronz from the band Attila – an Atlanta rock band. This is some serious hardcore that kicks in with a killer hook  – you’ll want to scream along and shake your fist in the air and generally look like a doofus ’cause you are 46 years old… wait that’s me.  You’ll like it.


Next up, we have Welcome to Pittsburgh by River City Extension who are from Tom’s River, New Jersey of their most recent release Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Your Anger. This is a great record – please check it out.


Next up, we have Rumi who is from St. Legier which I think is in Switzerland.  Living in the Mirror  is some cool, mellow Pop/Folk. It comes off an album called Stand Against.

And finally, we close out this decidedly eclectic mix of music with I am the Man, Thomas a gospel bluegrass song written by Ralph Stanley and Larry Sparks and performed here by Mr. Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys.  

How does one get from Punkcore to Gospel Bluegrass in one simple shuffle?  As I written before, I believe in connections when it comes to music.  I’ll admit, I was hard pressed to explain this connection, but here goes…. While looking up info on the Ralph Stanley song, I found an unattributed quote: “Bluegrass is to country what heavy metal is to rock and roll.”
 Which it occurred to me could be paraphrased as follows: “Bluegrass is to country what hardcore is to punk.”  So… think that puts a neat bow on the shuffle, brings things full circle, ties up the loose ends and whatever other expression you want to use.

The Banjo of Ralph Stanley The Banjo of Ralph Stanley

(From Old-Time to Bluegrass). By Ralph Stanley. DVD/Instructional/Folk Instrmt. DVD. Guitar tablature. 1 pages. Homespun #DVDRALBJ21. Published by Homespun

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