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Emma Swift – Guest Blogger

Firstly, a big thanks to Emma Swift for coming on board as Sounds Australia guest blogger.  Good to have someone who actually knows something about Americana contributing!  Emma made her first visit to this festival last year, and just fell in love with the place.  For those who haven’t heard her splendid radio show on FBI (Sydney) – check it out.

The trip

Most appropriate that I should hop on the plane in Tamworth – direct from 2 days of great songwriting workshops with primary and high school kids, and fly direct to the world’s songwriting ‘capital’.  Even more appropriate considering that one of the Sounds Australia duties this year is to host a City of Tamworth/Sister Cities of Nashville reception during Americana to signal the ongoing discussions to formalise a relationship between Australia’s ‘Country Music Capital’ and ‘Music City USA’.  After a couple of years of bringing a big mob of Aussies to Americana, great that this year we’ll see a couple of the Americana top guns – Elizabeth Cook and Jim Lauderdale, heading to Tamworth for next January’s Festival.

Trip was long but uneventful.  After previous years of travelling via LA (LAX not a very inviting stopover while waiting for Nashville connection), I decided to go via Dallas/Fort Worth this year.  Seems everyone else decided to do likewise.  Plane absolutely chockers. Still, with the the in-seat entertainment console, it’s all so much easier – so much on offer and so little to see!  One of the ‘Oscar Classic’ offerings was Robert Altman’s ‘Nashville’ – nice.  What a truly wonderful film.  Good thing was that there wasn’t a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9….’ on offer.

Before hopping on the plane, I wanted to pick up something uniquely Australian as a gift for good friend Tom Mason who’s been providing bed and board – and musical services as an ‘honorary’ Aussie, for the last 4 years.  Couldn’t quite decide between the Essence of Kangaroo and the Sheep Placenta!

Next stop Dallas, and what a contrast to LA International!  Instead of the noise and dirt and general run-down facilities, this is new, tidy and clean!  And understaffed!  Nothing like getting off the plane after 15 hours and then standing in the ‘Non-US Resident’ immigration queue for an hour and a half.  Still, good opportunity for some light-hearted banter and a bit of whinging with fellow travellers.  And, by the time all that’s over, it’s almost time to hop on the plane for the last 1.5 hour leg of the journey to Nashville.  Made all that much easier by a very jolly and welcoming Americana Airlines crew – what a welcome surprise.

Sunday 9th

Traditional Tex-Mex meal after the flight and a good night’s sleep.  Eight hour straight through, and woke this morning fresh as a daisy!  Ready to slip into Sounds Australia mode.  First job is a trip to Walmart (yay!) to gather bits and bobs (things-that-stick-things-to-other-things), for getting the booth together in the Exhibition Hall at the Sheraton as part of the Americana Conference.  This is we’re we’ll meet ‘n greet the 1,000-odd Conference delegates and promote the various gigs we’ll be doing over the 4 days of the event.

We’ve only got a few days to make an impact, so important every year to make it just a little more special.  This year, we’ve come up with the idea of the ‘Americana Music Passport’ to profile all the artists and provide links to their music and web sites.  I’ll go to all delegates in their Conference good bag, and is also featured on the Sounds Australia website – HERE.

Delegates will be encouraged to attend the various Sounds Australia gigs and get their passport stamped –

Then they’ll bring it along to the last gig – the all-day Stagemothers Aussie BBQ – presented in association with our good mates from Nashville’s own champion AFL team – The Nashville Kangaroos, and enter for the major prize draw – DrizaBone riding coat, Akubra hat and Yellow Tail wine.

Last year was the first time this event – a Sounds Australia ‘institution’ at SxSW, Liverpool Sound City etc, was part of the Americana event.  It was a great success and, with a bunch of willing Roos doing the cooking, was an ideal way of saying ‘thanks Nashville’ for a week of great music.

So, a day of meetings tomorrow, and then it’s buckle-up and off we go!