Final Thoughts from the 2012 Americana Music Festival

Kinky and Jesse

Kinky Friedman and Jesse Dayton

The Trishas all female band from Texas. Vavavavoom!!

(Having returned safely to his Northern manse, Correspondent Harry Gebippe offers these final observations, opinions, and ruminations about the just-completed 2012 Americana Music Festival in Nashville.)
– The $50 wristband is the best live music investment of the year, with more bands for the buck than you’ll get anywhere this side of a free festival. At about a half-dozen showcase and special events per day for 4 days, it works out to about 2 bucks per performance. When was the last time you saw John Hiatt for 2 bucks? Or Richard Thompson? Or Brandi Carlile? Heck, even Kinky Friedman was demanding a $45 cover when he appeared in Minneapolis recently!
– Old Guys Rule! John Hiatt slayed, Rodney Crowell put on a terrific festival-closing performance, and Kinky Friedman was hilariously off-color and politically incorrect (sample quip: “It’s a good thing when someone tells you, ‘Jesus loves you’ – except in a Mexican prison!”).
– Despite the appearances by Booker T, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, the gospel singing McCrary Sisters, and the integrated Stax/Volt revival band, The Bo-Keys, Americana is basically white folks’ music, as witnessed by the 99% Caucasian audiences and conference attendees.
– Big ups for the sound and stage crews at all the venues, for keeping the sets running more or less on time, and sounding great!
– Somebody paint a big bright yellow stripe on the edge of the raised platform around The Mercy Lounge’s bar, before one more person trips & sprains an ankle!
– And, while you’re at it, you could turn down the A/C at The Station Inn a tad, too!
– Revelations: Corb Lund, Brennen Leigh, Star and Micey [terrible name for a band!], Phil Madeira’s “Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest Of Us.”
– I’ll Pass On Him Next Time: Robert Ellis, Marvin Etzioni.
– Following the awards show, the tribute to Levon Helm at The Mercy Lounge was almost as star-studded an event. With a crackerjack house band providing the backup, one musician after another took to the stage to offer his/her rendition of a favorite Band song: Jason Isbell, Patterson Hood (together again!), Hayes Carll, Kurt Marschke (Deadstring Brothers), Webb Wilder, Chuck Mead (BR-549), Luther Dickinson, and more. And the celebrity spotting in the audience was, if anything, even better: Look, there goes Gary Louris of The Jayhawks! Isn’t that Jakob Dylan over there talking to Mike Mills, of R.E.M.? And I see Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison together up by the bar! Hey, it looks like Derry DeBorja and some of the rest of The 400 Unit are here with their sweeties, to support bossman Jason Isbell! Speaking of sweeties, The Mastersons showed up early to stake out a space near the bar.
– It will be nice when the mammoth Music City Center is finished next year, as the construction of this sprawling, 4-block long convention center/hotel complex disrupted the traffic flow to most of the venues. The free shuttles were a godsend, however, and, despite the $20/day cost (ulp!), The Missus and I were happy to let our vehicle sit for most of our 4-day stay.
– And, The Missus says the beds at the Sheraton are very nice.

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