Friday was a busy day for attendees of the Americana Music Festival and Conference, as several functions for industry types (read: happy hour parties) to go along with the showcase performances of the night ... and one very special guest lunch performance presented by the newly launched CMT Edge website.
Conference attendees were honored with a performance by The Queen of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson, during the lunch hour in the host hotel lobby bar. The chance to see another musical legend such as this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is almost too good to be true, but it happened and it was thrilling. Ms. Jackson is now in to her 70's, but she has the energy, vibrancy and vocals of a woman half her age. She and her band performed an awesome lunchtime set that included her biggest hit "Fujiyama Mama" and the Jack White-produced "Shakin' All Over" to a very appreciative crowd who could not help but smile while watching this dynamo work the room.
The evening portion kicked off at 9:00 for this guy, which saw the night bring me once again to the Cannery Ballroom. One of my earliest pieces made mention of Amanda Shires, so it was my great pleasure to see this young lady perform on this night. Ms. Shires has the unique ability to completely hush a room. A beautiful young lady with a soft voice that can sing virtually anything, so talented on the fiddle that she has played with Bob Wills' former backing band The Texas Playboys, she kept the room in the palm of her hand. But don't let the sweetness fool you where Amanda Shires is concerned. While she may perform songs that are filled with romantic tension and lust, such as "Swimmer, Dreams Don't Keep" and "Shake The Walls", she will also perform a song or two about exacting slow revenge on a cheating lover. But she makes it sound so sweet when exacting that revenge ... which is effective, because that's kind of scary.
Moving upstairs to the Mercy Lounge brought my attention to an act I hadn't heard before, and that would be Dylan Leblanc. Dylan is a talented stylist from Shreveport, Louisiana who has recently released his second album "Cast the Same Old Shadow." Dylan's sometimes mellow performance was very well received from the crowd, and has set himself up nicely for a return performance at the AMA Festival in the near future.
Coming back downstairs to the Cannery saw the week of legends continute with singer-songwriter John Hiatt taking the stage. This was John's second appearance at the Americana Festival this week, as he performed with and presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance to Bonnie Raitt at the AMA Awards Ceremony this past Wednesday. John and his fiery band reached back in to his lengthy catalogue to play some of the best Americana and blues anyone could ask for during the week. John once again paid homage to Bonnie Raitt with a scorching rendition of "The Thing Called Love." It was this performance and many others that kept the crowd rocking as the night wore on, and gave those of us who had experienced a full day of conference sessions and networking parties the energy to finish off the night.
And Lord knows I needed some energy to close this night off. But I would not deny myself the chance to witness Reckless Kelly in action for my first time. I've long documented how much I dig the Texas/Red Dirt music scene, so this was a great chance to see a major group from that part of the country. The boys did not disappoint. This was the most fiery performance of the festival, an absolultely loud and rollicking performance that once again turned the Mercy Lounge in to a Texas honky-tonk. Performing tracks from their lenghty catalogue including "Wicked, Twisted Road", they worked in some great rockin' covers and performed tracks from their newest release (the first on their own record label), "Good Luck and True Love."
The day was damn near exhausting but well worth the effort from all parties. The Americana scene truly has an embarassment of riches with respect to the talent that is out there for the music fan to see and consume.
And we still had Day 4 took look forward too ...