As the philosophy of Americana the genre goes — part keeping tradition and part reimagining it — so go the Americana Festival showcases. Some things have become — or are quickly becoming — pretty reliable traditions. For example, there will be a secret show featuring somebody who'd ordinarily play much bigger rooms than Mercy Lounge. (Look for it to be an analog-era roots star, like John Fogerty last year.) Mike Farris will tear the roof off with gospel-y fervor. There will be a tribute to music or a music-maker that helped sketch out the Americana template in the '60s or '70s. (One year it was Gram Parsons; this year it's an album — the Stones' Exile on Main Street.)
Elsewhere in the showcase goings-on there are variations on themes. Jon Langford, Exene Cervenka and Peter Case — all veteran singers and songwriters of rootsy stripes who have punk in their backgrounds (Langford with the Mekons, Cervenka with X and Case with the Plimsouls) — are performing and taking part in a panel on their and their audiences' relationships to both kinds of music.
Not only is still-kicking rockabilly (and country and gospel) spitfire Wanda Jackson getting a lifetime achievement award and giving a live interview, she's also got a whole night of rockabilly built around her, featuring Dale Watson and the Dex Romweber Duo.
The indie strains of Americana — or the Americana strains of indie music, depending on how you look at it — will be well represented. (It seems like half of the indie acts out there have a rustic, rootsy thing going that wouldn't be so out of place at the festival.) There's Rayland Baxter, tuneful and courtly singer-songwriter, and Frontier Ruckus, a quartet that sound like Bright Eyes' distant cousins.
Among the more familiar faces are three who can be counted to put on their version of a swinging show with vintage sensibilities: Chuck Mead and his energetic hillbilly boogies, Paul Burch and his stylish early country and pop, and Raul Malo, whose new album Sinners & Saints has the deepest Latin flavor of anything he's done in a while. Another standout voice to match Malo's is Shelby Lynne's, being put to use of late on rather stripped-down stuff.
And since Americana's one of the last scenes in which the album-length artistic statement is valued over the crisp and glossy downloadable single/ringtone, singer-songwriters who've told heavy-duty stories across entire albums this year — like Mary Gauthier with The Foundling and Paul Thorn with Pimps and Preachers — are there for the hearing, too.
This post just introduced me to Justice Yeldham. Holy shit.
Never heard of any of these artists?
Awesome!Love everything Jerry puts out. Definitely check out the Tue Mommies bandcamp for more golden…
the no droning rule is fucking dumb
"I love the smell of napalm in the morning...wait, what? That's not napalm??!"