Lucinda WIlliams is one of the best songwriters in the Americana – country landscape for the last 20 years. She has won three Grammys and has been nominated for 12 more. Her commercial break through came as late as 1998 with Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. From that CD she has been up there as one of the leading female artists in the the landscape between country, rock and Americana.
One of the good things about festivals like SXSW is that you both get to see artists you have never heard of, and also that you get too see artists you have heard on CD, but never seen live. James Hunter is one of these, with some critically acclaimed CDs, plus one of the best songs after 2000, People Gonna Talk. I saw him at the Americana Association night at Antone’s.
I have written about Carolyn Wonderland before, and will probably do it again. During SXSW she played two official gigs, and I saw one of them, the closing act on the Continental Club Friday March 15th. Carolyn is playing the Blues in Hell festival in Norway in September, and for my Norwegian readers who are going there, look forward to it and be prepared for an even better show than the last time.
A musician’s musician is someone who every other musician and artists wants to play with, but who isn’t always known to the general audience. Buddy Miller is a musician’s musician, but fortunately he has been acknowledged and gained more popularity during the years. Jim Lauderdale is a great singer songwriter who has written songs for artists like Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and other artists, but who also has got more and more recognition for his own work the later years. Now the two have released a CD together, and they played Antone’s during SXSW.
If you are interested in guitar playing and also steel guitar, you have to check out Junior Brown. He has played steel guitar with Asleep At The Wheel, he has taught guitar playing, and he has invented the guit-steel, a two-necked combination of a guitar and a steel guitar. On SXSW’s last day, he played at the ACL Moody.
The first time I saw Guy Forsyth was when he was a member of the Asylum Street Spankers, a totally acoustic band with “no demon electricity”, at the Antone’s in 1997. I liked what I heard, and I noticed this guy whose voice could be heard over the late night crowd at the club. Since then I have seen both the Spankers and Guy Forsyth with his own band several times. Last night I saw him at the Saxon Pub.
The headline looks like a contradicion in terms, but americana music is well rooted in Norway. Now the organisation Norsk Americana Forum is established, and their goal is to promote americana music in Norway and to make more people aware of this music.
If you are in Austin on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you have a good chance of seeing James McMurtry at the Continental Club – either solo or with his band, The Heartless Bastards. Whichever version you choose, you will have a great time with one of the best contemporary American storytellers.