My, how the time flies!  It’s always a sad day because it’s time to bid farewell to a lot of old and new friends who I won’t see (fingers crossed) until next year.  However, if it went any longer, I’d simply fall over I reckon.

As I pack up the booth, time to reflect on another year of involvement.  Having a talk with one of our artist managers, he comments that now he understands what it’s like to be in a real ‘music city’.  And that’s it really.  Almost impossible to convey how music pervades every part of this community, and just how inspiring that is for us all.  I recall the first time it really struck me was three years ago on a blazing hot day as I was taking the long walk back down Music Row to town after visiting the Aristomedia office.  Music row was a residential area before the music businesses moved in, and many of them are still located in what were residential dwellings.  In the middle of the row is Bob’s Bar which has been there from the start.  It’s a bit (well, a lot really) battered around the edges and not the place the music row execs frequent.  On the day I dropped in for some relief from the heat (and a bit of vital re-hydration), there were a small group of regulars chatting at the bar.  If this was the Australian equivalent, they’d be discussing the footy, the races … etc.  Here the stories and exchanges are all about music, songwriting and legendary artists …  Made me realise what a truly special place this is.

So, there’s Showcases tonight – Felicity and Jordie at the Rutledge, and then the all-day Aussie BBQ tomorrow.  And that’s it!

But one important thing first –

Americanarama V – The Basement

The Basement venue is under the legendary Grimeys record store and a number of music business offices including local management/label business 30 Tigers.  Today’s their big celebration with a car park concert, discounts in the store, bins of $1 vinyl + the Yazoo (very acceptable local product) beer truck and food stalls.

We’ll be back here tomorrow for our own BBQ, but today I’m on a music ‘mission’ – for son Dan and myself.  This is vinyl heaven!  So much wonderful stuff – and very practical for international travelling!  Have a list from Dan including the latest release from Nashville legend Sharon Jones.  It’s all here – wonderful!  So mission accomplished, time to get ready for tonight’s showcases.

Felicity and Jordie @ The Rutledge

The Rutledge is just about my favourite of the showcase venues.  An old church (of course!), it a great viewing room with an elevated section at the back.  Holds about 400 max, and even when full, the crowd is basically there to listen.  Amazing how reverential they are in their appreciation of songs.  It’s a great buzz for the performers, who invariably respond with their best.

Felicity’s been here many times on songwriting/recording visits, but I knew that she’d be perfect for a showcase.  When this year became one to mark the relationship between the City of Tamworth and Sister Cities of Nashville, her involvement as Tamworth musical ambassador was essential.  Great thanks to the City for so generously supporting her visit – and the whole program of course.  She’s being accompanied by husband Glen on acoustic and old Australian mate (and Nashville resident) Sam Hawksley on lap steel.  It’s a gorgeous acoustic set with great interplay between Glen and Sam.  The audience is greatly taken with them.  There’s a spontaneous call of “what a voice!” after the first song.  Felicity and Glen are expecting their second child, so they’re very excited.  Not sure if that’s the reason, but I’ve never heard her singing better – and that’s saying something!

Was going to try to get over to the Station Inn to see Jedd Hughes playing guitar with Rodney Crowell, but realise I’ll be cutting it too fine as I need to be here for Jordie’s showcase later.  Disappointed, but means that I do get to see two excellent showcases from The Wood Bothers (Texas), and Kevin Gordon – local legendary singer/songwriter.  Great sets and great music and I know they’ll be very receptive to Jordie.

Good crowd in attendance, and I’m delighted.  Always difficult on the first visit when you’re up against 5 other showcase acts with long Americana pedigrees.  Alastair Burns – Jordie’s manager, has done a great job of networking and promoting this week, so there’s a good sprinkling of industry folks in the crowd.

Knowing Jordie’s superior skills as a writer, finger-picker and engaging raconteur, I’m in no doubt that the crowd will warm to yet another fine Australian performer.  And so it proves.  A great set of songs and stories with Jordie’s partner Clare Reynolds (a noted Melbourne performer in her own right), providing beautiful harmonies.  Following a previous pilgrimage to the Joshua Tree Motel to pay homage to Gram Parsons, Jordie (and Clare) recently starred in a Melbourne stage production based on his life. They’ve chosen “Return of The Grievous Angel” as part of the set.  It’s a big call here, but a killer version that has the crowd hollering!  There’ll be plenty of enthusiastic discussions about a new ‘discovery’ – and that’s what it’s all about.  Well done mate!

So, off to bed – ready for the all-day Aussie BBQ tomorrow.