Nashville or Bust

The trip that started a longer journey

Americana Music Festival and Conference, Day 1

We start every journey with a picture… technically. It’s a goofy thing we’ve done since college. And wouldn’t you know it… on this epic road trip, we almost forgot. So this one was shot en motion. We’re living large and dangerous this week.

Needless to say, we made it to Nashville safe and sound and in good time. The ride was a little rough on Dave’s back but I’m happy to say much less so than this time last year. I realized as I woke up this morning that our trip literally falls on the anniversary of his first chemo treatment. What a difference a year can make.

Checking-in at the conference seemed a bit surreal. You just didn’t know who you were standing next to. Musicians, festival performers, industry people I follow on Twitter… they were all there, roaming around with their lanyards and (awesome!) swag bags. After giving our names, we got our credentials, too. This is a good club to be in, for certain.

A quick dip to Rippy’s for our traditional ‘welcome home’ meal at our favorite bar stools. It was early and mid-week so we didn’t see Tom & Lyle or Jake but the duo who were on stage were all right. Later they were joined by Kari Nelson on fiddle whom we have seen playing with Jake Mauer. Familiar faces, familiar places. It was nice to just kick back and relax for a little bit. Dave took advantage of the time to make his picks for the week to come. It’s impossible to see it and hear it all. So we’ll flex and take in what we can and what we like. All good.

We opted not to sit through any seminars on Wednesday afternoon — there are plenty lined up Thursday through Saturday. Our focus was set on catching one of five nightly showcases. Strategically, we’re aiming for one place each night so we can ‘lock and load’ and maintain a seat. So for night one, it was The Mercy Lounge to see The Gourds, The Kenny Vaughn Trio, Foster & Lloyd and Hayes Carll. Four acts, four hours. Ready? Go!

The Gourds had a fun set and a good sound. I’ve heard them on WDVX but they were new to Dave. He described them as a delightful mash-up of The Grateful Dead and Phish, with a little Van Morrison thrown in the mix. They got the crowd warmed up and had a lot of fun in the process. To me, that’s a good set. We really enjoyed them.

Now a note about this crowd… the people watching is some of the best. Eclectic yet welcoming and approachable. People were drinking but it wasn’t crazy. Folks were there to listen and really share in the experience. And the fashion? Pure vintage. Pure comfort. I’m glad I brought a bucket of boots and some of my fave vintage pieces but I admit, I could have brought more. Next time.

Next up on the dance card… The Kenny Vaughn Trio. We knew nothing about him but anticipated some sort of blusey-jazz fusion based on the name and the set-up: Guitar, drums and a small organ with a full pedal board. They, by far, were the surprise of the night for us. Excellent musicianship and a great groove. We heard so many influences in Kenny’s music. Just when you think you could pin it down there was something new in the texture. We grabbed Kenny’s new cd during the break because we both agreed this is something we want to listen to through headphones, not to mention over and over. Happy ears!

Every party has that moment — you know, that awkward lull. Last night it happened to be Foster & Lloyd’s set. I had seen their new video online, read up on them and was intrigued. A duo with a 25+ year history that’s making a go of it again. Unfortunately, their guitars weren’t in tune and their sound guy just couldn’t get the mix right. (Louder doesn’t fix it.) They seemed a bit frustrated but carried on. It was a long set but the crowd was supportive and attentive. Perhaps there is more to their story that I don’t know but beyond the mix woes, their material became very vanilla very quick to us. Bummer.

Last up for the night was Texas singer/songwriter, Hayes Carll. We discovered Hayes’ music several months ago and he was the reason we picked this line-up. So earlier in the evening when he was standing right next to us during The Gourds’ set, we felt kinda special. Then again, this whole experience is. Hayes’ set was everything we had hoped it would be and more. He pert near played his entire album plus a few earlier songs. His banter on stage was genuine and funny. To get the chance to see him so close in a small venue was simply fantastic. Dave thoroughly enjoyed hearing him live. And yes, KMAGYOYO was awesome.

Speaking of, I should be saying good-bye for now. Seminars start soon. Now that we have some music in our system, it’s time to learn new things and meet new people. ~Jacqui

October 13, 2011 - Posted by | AmericanaFest 2011

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