The Ten Best Shows We Saw At The 2016 Americana Music Festival - AXS

AXS
By: Chris Griffy Sep 27, 2016 

All photography by Chris Griffy

With over 200 bands performing across six days and over a dozen venues, it would be physically impossible to see everything there was to offer at the Americana Music Festival, or even a fraction. But during our time onsite at Americanafest, AXS caught 34 full and mini-sets. Without fail, we were impressed by everything we saw. Americana music is defined above all by musical integrity so whether your tastes run toward the bluegrass, rock, country, soul or jazz facets of the genre, there was sure to be something that satisfied your taste. It made picking 10 favorites from those 34 tough, but as we look back at the week, these 10 artists rose to the top of the heap.  


     
We got to catch Applewood Road twice at Americanafest. The first time was at the Wild Ponies Happy Hour, where they played an abbreviated 15Applewood Road We got to catch Applewood Road twice at Americanafest. The first time was at the Wild Ponies Happy Hour, where they played an abbreviated 15 minute set due to time restriction. The second, was a half hour at the AMA UK Bootleg BBQ. The trio, made up of successful solo artists Amy Speace, Emily Barker and Amber Rubarth have an airtight vocal harmony that would make you think they'd been together for decades.










Colin Hay, of Men at Work fame, played a short half-hour set at the Compass Records Hillbillies and Hotdogs party, but it was enough to makeColin Hay
Colin Hay, of Men at Work fame, played a short half-hour set at the Compass Records Hillbillies and Hotdogs party, but it was enough to make it one of the weekend's best. Hay's lyrics are always thoughtful, often clever and surprisingly deep. His between song banter is some of the funniest in the business.





























Surrounded by the funky Egyptian architecture of Nashville's Downtown Presbyterian Church, Phil Madeira held forth for 90 minutes with a rotPhil Madeira's Mercyland
Surrounded by the funky Egyptian architecture of Nashville's Downtown Presbyterian Church, Phil Madeira held forth for 90 minutes with a rotating cast of guests that included fellow Red Dirt Boy Will Kimbrough, John Paul White, Sarah Potenza, The Wood Brothers and his touring boss, the legendary Emmylou Harris, who closed out the show with two songs. You don't have to be among the faithful to enjoy Mercyland, but watching Emmylou and John Paul White duet in a church is a religious experience for any music fan.

























 
  • It was billed as a two hour concert by Lee Ann Womack and some of her friends. In reality, it was something much more special. Womack played
  • Lee Ann Womack and Friends
  • It was billed as a two hour concert by Lee Ann Womack and some of her friends. In reality, it was something much more special. Womack played emcee for the evening and joined in for a duet here and there as the biggest names in Americana kicked things off at Basement East. Anytime you have Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, Jim Lauderdale, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires stopping in for a few songs, it's going to be a very good night.

















     

  • If anyone doubted the youth movement in Americana was alive and well, that doubt died on Saturday night at The Station Inn when Canadian sin
  • Whitney RoseIf anyone doubted the youth movement in Americana was alive and well, that doubt died on Saturday night at The Station Inn when Canadian singer Whitney Rose took to the stage.  With a voice that captures the twang of Patsy Cline, the innocence of Lesley Gore, and the sassy spunk of Wanda Jackson, Rose was pure energy from start to finish, with catchy tunes like "The Devil Borrowed My Boots" mixing seamlessly with her Latin surf guitar-infused cover of Gore's "You Don't Own Me."













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  • Playing on the same night and the same venue as Rose, Sierra Hull was one more nail in the coffin of the notion that Americana is music for SierraHull
  • Playing on the same night and the same venue as Rose, Sierra Hull was one more nail in the coffin of the notion that Americana is music for the old.  Days shy of 25, Sierra Hull is already a seasoned veteran performer, a graduate of the revered Berklee School of Music, and one of the most talented mandolin pickers in the world today.  Her set veered wildly from bluegrass to rock to classical and all points in between, with Hull bouncing around the stage the entire show like she was daring her band to just try and keep up.






















 
  • Will Kimbrough, Grayson Capps, and Sugarcane Jane have all been a part of the Americana scene for years and a solo set from any of them migh
    Willie Sugarcapps
  • Will Kimbrough, Grayson Capps, and Sugarcane Jane have all been a part of the Americana scene for years and a solo set from any of them might very well have made this list.  But when you combine them into the supergroup Willie Sugarcapps, you get something that has to be seen to be believed.  The group was formed from the various members' love of the music of their South Alabama roots and the swampy country rock on offer Friday night at Family Wash was powerful enough that the Gulf Shores Chamber of Commerce should consider offering them a job.  They are as good an advertisement for the region as you'll ever get.









 
  • Like the majority of Americanafest attendees, we walked into Saturday's Bootleg BBQ with no idea who Yola Carter is.  The British singer has
  • Yola Carter
  • Like the majority of Americanafest attendees, we walked into Saturday's Bootleg BBQ with no idea who Yola Carter is.  The British singer has yet to make a splash as a solo artist on American soil, although the crowd reactions from her set say that's about to change.  Carter's versatile pipes can do Mavis Staples or Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin or Loretta Lynn and her influences are broad enough to make her want to try.  Yola Carter is an artist you will be hearing a lot more of in the coming years.






























If you're going to come to Nashville all the way from Sweden and Iceland, you must think you've got what it takes to make it in Americana. T
My Bubba
  • If you're going to come to Nashville all the way from Sweden and Iceland, you must think you've got what it takes to make it in Americana. The duo known as My Bubba sure do. Musically, they were unquestionably the quietest act on the bill, which could be a disaster in a "chat while you wait for the band you came to see" festival environment. But from the second the started their a cappella first song and those gorgeous layered vocals started to bounce around Third Man Records, you could hear a pin drop as the audience barely dared breathe and risk breaking the spell. With a gentle sense of humor to match their songs, My Bubba was the breakout act of Americanafest 2016.




They don't let you keep doing something for 50 years unless you're pretty good at it so it's no surprise that the weekend's top spot belongs

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
They don't let you keep doing something for 50 years unless you're pretty good at it so it's no surprise that the weekend's top spot belongs to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who are celebrating their half-century as a band this year. Age certainly hasn't dimmed their fire as vocalist/guitarist Jeff Hanna and multi-instrumentalist John McEuen strutted and stalked around the stage striking poses like 20 year olds. Add to that hit after hit like "Fishin' in the Dark" and "Workin' Man (Nowhere to Go)" and the top spot was a no brainer.

Love collaboration? These all-star jams at the 2016 Americana Music Festival are just for you

AXS.com
By: Chris Griffy - August 27, 2016


With over 200 artists scheduled to perform during its sprawling six days and dozens more in Nashville for the accompanying conference and awards show, the Americana Music Festival has always been a place where any set could result in a surprise guest appearance. But most shows don't have guest sit-ins, leaving fans who wants a bonus to their concert experience to guess at which artists are most likely to have one. A safer bet is to attend one of the numerous Americanafest shows that are already pre-scheduled to be all-star affairs. Here are five of the best. 

Guitartown and Sin City Present: Better Together- Sept. 20 at Basement East 

The Americana Music Festival kicks off its 2016 edition with one of the most star-studded musical affairs of the entire weekend at Basement East when Chuck Mead and Aaron Lee Tasjan play host to a night of music. Not all of the guests for the evening have been announced, but the show will culminate with a huge, for a festival set, two hour performance by Grammy award winner Lee Ann Womack, who will be joined by Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, and an all-star band sure to be made up of some of the best Americana instrumentalists. Griffin and Womack alone can sell out theaters, so the combination, plus the addition of Miller, Tasjan, and Mead is sure to make this show a hot ticket. 

Songwriters in the Round- Sept. 22 at Bluebird Cafe 

The Bluebird Cafe is an internationally known destination for people visiting Nashville for many reasons and their “in the round” style multi-artist jam sessions is one of the biggest ones. So it's no surprise that The Bluebird is joining up with the Americana Music Festival and the 30A Songwriter's Festival for a special Americanafest edition of their Songwriters in the Round series. This edition will be hosted by beloved Americana songwriter Mary Gauthier and will feature performances by Gretchen Peters, Jeff Black, and Verlon Thompson. Seating is very limited at the intimate Bluebird Cafe, so reservations are strongly suggested for this show. 

Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us- Sept. 22 at Downtown Presbyterian Church 

Well known producer, sideman, and songwriter Phil Madeira has developed a reputation for throwing some of the biggest all-star parties at the Americana Music Festival under his Mercyland banner. Featuring positive gospel music from some of the genre's biggest stars, the two Mercyland albums are already jam packed with some of Americana's biggest names and this year's Mercyland show, taking place at Nashville's historic Downtown Presbyterian Church, promises to be full of them. Already announced to be joining Madeira for the show are Americana luminary Emmylou Harris, Sarah Potenza, and The Wood Brothers, although “several other artists” are promised. While it's impossible to know who might show up for these surprise performances, artists from the Mercyland albums who will be in town to perform at other shows include Buddy Miller, John Paul White, Shawn Mullins, and The McCrary Sisters. 

Willie Sugarcapps- Sept. 23 at The Family Wash 

Unlike most of the shows here, which feature one-off performances, Willie Sugarcapps is a fully functioning and touring band. But that doesn't make it any less of an all-star jam session. The band is made up of Nashville fixture Will Kimbrough, songwriter Grayson Capps, the husband and wife duo Sugarcane Jane, and Corky Hughes. With roots in South Alabama, the band is a great reminder that not all of Alabama's musical legacy resides in the currently trendy Muscle Shoals area. The band always puts on a great show and their performance at The Family Wash will be a memorable one. 

Sixth Annual Gospel Brunch- Sept. 25 at City Winery 

The last day of the Americana Music Festival is usually a more laid back affair, with the all-night Americana Showcases finished and many people preparing to go home. For the past several years, the capper to Americanafest for many has been the annual Thirty Tigers Gospel Brunch. Over a meal of chicken and waffles, the Gospel Brunch at City Winery features a rotating cast of performers, many of whom wander on and off stage throughout, creating unique groupings with every song. This year's scheduled list of performers for the Gospel Brunch include Lori McKenna, Luke Bell, Sons of Bill, and The McCrary Sisters. 

The Americana Music Festival's 2016 edition will be held Sept. 20-25 in venues scattered throughout Nashville. You can see a full lineup here. If you want more Americanafest news, including a list of can't miss stars, some featured youngsters, and a list of featured speakers at the Americana Music Conference, you can find it all on AXS. We will also be on hand all six days of the Americana Music Festival will daily updates, interviews, and reports on the latest happenings.

New Year, New Label, and New Album

We are excited to announce that the new year is going to bring some exciting announcements, one of which, is a new album titled Paradise Right Here, recorded at FAME studio in Muscle Shoals, AL.

This eleven song album produced and mixed by Grammy winning engineer, Trina Shoemaker, will meet it's release date on April 15 courtesy of our new label, Baldwin County Public Records.

New tour dates are being added every day so check back or sign up for the mailing list to be the first to know or follow up on Facebook and Twitter!

13th Annual Independent Music Award Winner for Best Americana Album 2013

Best Americana Album of 2013  

"Known for championing original work by artists who follow their own muse, The IMAs provides winners with performance, promotion, and distribution opportunities that will place them in front of music supervisors, talent buyers, record label executives, and most importantly, fans worldwide." (IMA)

The judging panel included a number of talented respectable recording artists including Ann Wilson & Nancy Wilson of Heart, Suzanne VegaJim LauderdaleShelby Lynne, Chris Wood & Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers, and more as well as record label executives, club and festival talent buyers, music journalists, film & tv music supervisors including Rolling StoneAmerican Songwriter, Kerrville Folk Festival, Performing Songwriter, Vans Warped Tour, Lincoln Center, and many others.

We are so proud to receive this acknowledgement.  Willie Sugarcapps was an album made of love among friends.  We are separately three entities of songwriters who came together by chance at The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm in Silverhill, Alabama.  We individually handpicked the songs that make up this album which somehow all flow together seamlessly with the help of grammy winning engineer, Trina Shoemaker. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported us and this record (92ZEW, Kevin Calabro, our label, Royal Potato Family, Sara Vale, AXEcess Entertainment, Mark Harper and Mark V Media, Chad Edwards and MCE Photography, Catt Sirten, Keith Necaise, Wendy Doherty, friends, and family).  You are all just as much a reason for receiving this award as us.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!  By winning this award the IMAs will provide us performance, promotion, and distribution opportunities that will place us in front of music supervisors, talent buyers, record label executives, and most importantly, fans worldwide.

Fan Online Voting will determine the 13th IMA Vox Pop Winners.  Music fans from around the world have until midnight Friday, July 18 to champion their favorite Nominees and determine The 13th IMA Vox Pop Winners by voting online at www.independentmusicawards.com/imanominee/13th

The fan-selected Winners will benefit from additional marketing support from the IMAs so please don't forget to cast your vote!

The Alternate Root's Top 30 Artists Right Now

#11. Willie Sugarcapps – Willie Sugarcapps quietly meandered onto the Roots music scene. The subtle way the band materialized is no surprise as its collective members have always approached their respective careers with humility, letting their advance talent speak for itself.

What is surprising is that artists like Will Kimbrough, Grayson Capps and Sugarcane Jane can do anything that far under the radar. Their music finds a common ground on the Gulf Coast and the band has performed a handful of shows in that area, as well as Nashville dates and an outside show at Grimey’s Music. Their self-titled debut is top shelf, and they need to tour, please get in touch with e-mails and suggest a long tour, and tell ‘em the Alt Root sent ya.

Listen and buy the music of Willie Sugarcapps from AMAZON or iTunes
- See more at: http://www.thealternateroot.com/what-s-trending/1685-top-30-artists-list#sthash.9HAJJHjk.dpuf

American Songwriter Premieres "Oh, Colorado"

Written by Andrew Leahey August 20th, 2013 at 9:00 am | www.americansongwriter.com
 
Before they formed the Americana supergroup Willie Sugarcapps, musicians Will Kimbrough, Grayson Capps, Sugarcane Jane and Corky Hughes would cross paths every weekend or so at the Frog Pond, an outdoor venue in Silverhill, Alabama. Those weekend shows were modeled after Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles, with touring bands and local pickers sharing the same stage in a relaxed, rustic setting. Eventually, what began as a weekly jam session started growing into something bigger, and Willie Sugarcapps — a twangy, rootsy, harmony-fueled band, with a lineup of harmony singers and multi-instrumentalists — was born.

Today, the band’s self-titled debut hits shelves. Produced by Trina Shoemaker, it’s a collection of songs that split the difference between folk, Bayou blues, bluegrass and old-school country. On “Colorado,” the group keeps things simple, letting the song’s melody speak for itself.
“The song has that ‘Emmylou’ quality to it,” says Savana Lee, one of Sugarcane Jane’s members. “It takes me back to a time when music was simple, yet real. I am a believer in not over thinking anything. Sometimes a simple melody is as good as homemade peach cobbler — case in point.”
 
“I wrote this with Sara Jean Kelley one winter day,” Kimbrough adds. “We were thinking about longing. We started talking about Colorado, and places like Telluride, Lizard Head, Durango, the Weminuche wilderness… high, high places up above 10,000 feet, where your breath is literally taken away. In about an hour, we were singing “Oh Colorado.” I sent it to Savana Lee, and she reacted immediately. It moved her, too. She and Anthony learned the song. Savana’s voice on the song… talk about longing. I have to avoid the track while driving; I get a little teary-eyed every time I hear her sing it. The sentiment is universal, though. Not limited to longing for the Rockies: “I have lost my way but I will come back to you one day.” It’s a universal, ancient longing in the song.”

CMT Edge premieres "Gypsy Train"

Willie Sugarcapps Wander Toward “Gypsy Train”
07/23/2013   Craig Shelburne | www.cmtedge.com


The band members of Willie Sugarcapps capture an intriguing Gulf Coast vibe on their upcoming album, also titled Willie Sugarcapps. They’ve described their sound as an organic blend of blues, rock and classic country, which is infused with a laid-back vibe.

Astute Americana listeners will recognize the lineup: Will Kimbrough, the duo Sugarcane Jane (Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee) and Grayson Capps and Corky Hughes. Thus, the band’s name. Along with forging ahead with their own careers, they formed the group at the Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm in Silverhill, Ala., a small venue that takes prides in nurturing the local music community.

Scheduled for an Aug. 20 release, the project was recorded in the Deep South during an eight-hour session with producer/engineer Trina Shoemaker. One of the project’s most subdued songs is “Gypsy Train,” which Kimbrough wrote with Miles Zuniga of the band Fastball.

“We were talking about the musician’s life of wandering all over the place, appearing in front of people and then leaving town,” Kimbrough tells CMT Edge. “Yeah, we’re like gypsies in some old movie. You’re always arriving or leaving. I love the song but never knew what to do with it. Then we started Willie Sugarcapps, and I knew the song had found a home.”

Kimbrough adds, “At one time or another, everybody feels like a wandering gypsy, set to wandering — sometimes it’s just a feeling in your heart — and ‘Gypsy Train’ tells that story. The band itself, Willie Sugarcapps, has been like coming home for all of us — even though we all love where we’ve been. This band is like a new family of friends, and when we do a show, that feeling goes out to the audience, too. It’s some sort of magic.”

Come September, you won’t have to travel to Alabama to check out the band. They’ve been selected for an official showcase at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville.

Don’t miss the CMT Edge premiere of Willie Sugarcapps’ “Gypsy Train.” Click the link below to go to CMT's site and hear the premiere!

GYPSY TRAIN PREMIERE

Willie Sugarcapps debut album is here!

 
It didn't take long for Willie Sugarcapps to have a self titled 10 song cd made, mixed, pressed, and packaged up to serve to their ever increasing fan base. The official release date is scheduled for August 20 but a select few will be able to grab an early copy at two pre-release shows; one at WorkPlay in Birmingham, Alabama, the other at Mobile, Alabama's music hotspot,  Callaghan's Irish Social Club on June 30.  Songs include Grayson Capps' 'Willie Sugarcapps' (written about the band and their lives as traveling musicians) and a cleverly rewritten 'Poison' (a song about the result of the BP oil spill), Will Kimbrough's 'Mud Bottom' (depicting life along the rivers of the Gulf Coast) as well as co-write with Sara Jean Kelley's 'Oh Colorado' (sung by Savana that gloriously paints the landscape of Colorado and a longing to return), to Anthony Crawford's 'Energy' (that decribes day to day life as people struggle to maintain)  as well as a few other hand picked gems.

Everyone takes turns singing lead while the rest of the band adds harmonies and whatever instrument they feel like picking up.  It was recorded at the home of  Anthony and Savana on their dogtrot and produced and recorded by grammy winning engineer Trina Shoemaker (Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, Dixie Chicks) all in about 8 hours.  It's basically a live recording although there were several overdubs done for added ear candy.  It's already been picked up for national distribution by Capp's label, The Royal Potato Family.  To have bandmates spread out from Nashville to the Gulf Coast, it is amazing how fast this came together.  "I guess where there's a Will, there's a way, said Savana (knowing that Kimbrough had to leave after the 8 hour recording session to be back in Nashville for family duties.  It takes a lot of effort to make this happen but it is something that we all wanted to do because it was just destined to happen.  We all have our own individual careers but Willie Sugarcapps is definitely bigger than the individual parts.  It's such a rare thing to have this many great songwriter/musicians in a band with such easy going personalities.  We are all having a blast and are just looking forward to every show.  It's just a lot of fun, really.")

Visit www.williesugarcapps.com for news, photos, and tour dates for this ever-evolving all-star band.

Photo credit by Keith Necaise Photography.

Our Story


I've been on the road for many years. It really has been a long, strange trip. But such a good one.  I had reached the time in my life when I needed to get back home and be with my parents and my sister more, so I started looking for more shows to play on the Gulf Coast. Then I played my first Frog Pond show. It was with Grayson and Corky, with Sugarcane Jane. I knew about Grayson. I had been listening to Corky play since I was a kid.  I knew all about Anthony, and maybe we had met once or twice over the years.  Then it was show time at the Frog Pond. Within the first five minutes, we were all playing together.  Within ten minutes, we were all singing together. It went on all afternoon and into the evening. We were inspired.  The crowd was mesmerized. There were drums and tambourines and banjo and mandolin and steel guitar and fiddle and lord the guitars and the voices! Then we had another show. Maybe another one. Suddenly, we were a band folks were asking us to show up and play at festivals and music conferences. At concert series and good music clubs.   All we did was sit down and play together. And that's why I love it so much: it's organic. It just sprung up natural.   And it's never exactly the same.
So here we go, into the mystic: Willie Sugarcapps.

~ Will Kimbrough