Just realised I’ve got this far without a word about the weather. Was expecting that to be one of the minuses of the move back to the September date. The year before last there were blazing hot days and torrential rain periods. Not great fun when you’re trecking up and down the (significant) hill between the Sheraton, the Broadway strip and the Country Music Hall of Fame where some of the special events are held. Apparently it had been very hot until we arrived, but been great since – low to mid 20s and no rain to speak of.
Up early (very) to try to tune in to Collingwood V West Coast. With the internet playing up, can’t make the ABC live radio feed work, so have to make do with the occasional ‘live update’ on the AFL site. There’s a countdown clock and then eventually the score gets updates every 3-4 minutes. VERY frustrating and no way to endure a vital last quarter. All turned out well, and – now that I’m back at Tom’s place with good wireless, I’m anticipating better things for the match against Sydney this week. Go Pies!
Second Fiddle – Maton Aussie Lunch
This will be our third delegate lunch at the Second Fiddle courtesy of the wonderful support we’ve had from iconic Aussie guitar maker Maton.
We’re off to a flying start because the local daily paper – The Tennessean, a Sounds Australia feature story on the front page of their Business section. It’s a significant print media first – thanks Ryan and Aristomedia.
So, down to dress the venue, liaise with the production folks re stage requirements, and make sure lunch will be delivered on time. We’d previously gone Pork BBQ, but at Jeff Walker’s suggestion, we’re trying pizza and chicken wings this year. I’ve asked our good friends Mark and Jay O’Shea to host as they did last year. They’ve been living here for a number of years now and are starting to kick some serious industry goals. They do a cable TV music magazine show – ‘O’Shea USA’, which airs on Australia’s Country Music Channel – great exposure for us. They’re here early to do interviews, as are ‘Inside Music Row’ TV and Country Music Television for the first time. Interest in Kasey and Shane is a great boost for us all.
Minor panic! Pizza and wings arrive and there’s a bit of “I thought you were bringing the plates..” – “No, I thought you were …”, until Jeff saves the day by organising some from the venue.
Good crowd starting to stream in. Dare I say even a bit bigger than for the Canadian lunch yesterday. Yes, I dare – it is. Had already received several compliments about how good that ‘Aussie’ show yesterday was. Should I explain that was Canada, or graciously accept the credit. I graciously accept.
On today’s musical bill of fare – Chris pIckering (who splits his time between Brisbane and Nashville, and was involved last year), Chris Altmann (a showcase artist last year, now resident in Canada), Caitlin Harnett (‘new chum’ last year, a showcase selection this year), Shandell (also returning from last year), Felicity and Kasey and Shane doing their last gig before heading home tomorrow to hit the road for their new record (‘Wreck & Ruin’) tour.
Great show, and I’ll say it again. I’m just so proud to watch all our artists tread the same boards as the world’s best and deliver performances from the top drawer. Then of course there’s yellow tail wine and an Akubra ‘Lawson’ to give away (remembered the tickets this time).
Delighted that Jed Hilly has taken time away from Sheraton HQ to join us. It gives me a chance to publicly thank him for his ongoing support – not least in helping to finally land Kasey and Shane for this event. It’s been a spectacular success as they’ve proven themselves genuine stars of the genre, and lovely down-to-earth people.
So, a bit of cold pizza, pack up the bits and bobs, and get ready for Caitlin’s official showcase at the Basement tonight. But before that –
Red Beet Records @ The Cross Roads
East Nashville is the indie music heart of Nashville. It’s where lots of the working muss live, hang out and play. Reminiscent of Brusnwick/Northcote/Fitzroy in Melbourne. At the heart of the scene are Eric Brace and Peter Cooper who run local label Red Beet Records. It’s where I stay with old mate and East Nashvillean stalwart Tom Mason. It’s their annual label showcase at the Crossroads in the heart of the Downtown Honky Tonk strip. I’m glad I’ve got time to pop in before tonight’s duties, as Mary Gauthier – one of Nashville’s truly great writers is on. Tom will be playing later, but is VERY excited that Mary has chosen to do one of his songs in her set. Killer version of ‘Thought I heard a Train’ – great song mate!
Caitlin Harnett Showcase
It’s a great success story. Caitlin was a young entrant in the Telstra Road To Discovery a couple of years ago and was marked down by head judge Bill Page from Mushroom Music as a writer with great potential. He encouraged here to make the trip last year as part of the Sounds Australia party. It was a real eye-opener for her, but there’s definitely an ‘X factor’ thing going on, apart from the increasingly mature writing.
Bill’s been endlessly supportive, and I know we were both delighted when the AMA invited her to be one of the 4 Australians they’ve guaranteed an official showcase spot. Considering there are annually over 1200 applications for the 100 spots available, it’s a great honour, and a testament to the rapid progress she’s making.
It’s only a few songs in, but the crowd’s already firmly in her corner, engaged by the songs, but also greatly taken with the openness, wit and lack of artifice that is a hallmark of all the Australian performances.
Caitlin was VERY excited to be on the same bill as Americana Aquarium, who I’m not familiar with. Turns out they’re great, but I’ve made a commitment to go and see personal favourite John Hiatt at the Cannery.
The Cannery was just that for most of it’s working life, with a brief interlude during the Civil War when it was converted to a sword making works. There are three venues in one – the Ballroom which can hold 1500 +, the Mercy Lounge upstairs (600+) and the High Watt on the top floor (300 or so). During the festival, all three are running 4-5 showcases per night. Impossible not to find something new, amazing, satisfying!
I’d taken No. 2 son Dan along to the Corner Hotel in Melbourne to see John Hiatt a couple of months ago, and he was most impressed – and distinguished by being by far the youngest person in the 600+ crowd. He’s a legend here as one of the most covered American songwriters in history – check out the list. A previous Americana Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, it was fitting that he inducted Bonnie Raitt this year at the Awards and Honors (sic) Show.
I’m excited as we’ll be seeing not only the dazzling Doug Lancio on guitar, but some ‘special guests’ – why not, they’re all here! Words just about fail me – in fact they do! It was magical, wonderful, uplifting ….. Home with a huge grin.