AMERICANA roundup by Michael Hingston A mericanaFestUK is growing every year. The conference is now spread over three days and the artist showcase was on two consecutive days with a superb line-up of 58 artists playing small venues around Hackney. The event culminates in the UK Americana Awards in the gloriously ornate surroundings of the Hackney Empire. The showcase is a fabulous way to see a large number of superb acts in a short space of time and all for £30. The label Thirty Tigers hosted an evening of their acts at the Moth Club, the Big Indie label put on some of their acts the Night Tales venue and there was a line-up of Canadian acts in the Empire Bar. The sets were all 30-35 minutes long and I had some hard choices to make over which acts to see with so many performing at the same time. The evening starts at 6pm and I missed out on some of the early acts on the first evening due to transport issues, but still managed to catch at least part of the sets by Caroline Spence, Neilson Hubbard, Amy Speace, Oh Susanna, Carson McHone, Police Dog Hogan, Pretty Archie and E rin Costelo is not only lead vocalist and songwriter of all the songs (apart from the Randy Newman cover I’ll Be Home) on her latest album Sweet Marie, she also produced, played keyboards and arranged the horns and strings. So, the album is fully her vision with wonderfully structured arrangements that move effortlessly from sparseness to rich complexity. It was recorded in her native Nova Scotia in the middle of a Canada winter, but there is a contrasting warmth from her Nina Simone-like vocal phrasing and the jazz flavoured accompaniment. Lucy Kitt is from Essex and formed an all-girl grunge band at the age of 16, but she now draws her influences largely from 1970s Laurel Canyon songwriters. There was even a track on her previous EP called Laurel Canyon. She has built up a fine reputation on the live scene since being a semi- finalist in the 2006 BBC Radio Young Folk awards, and her long-awaited debut full-length album Stand 60 cmp - MARCH 2019 Austin Lucas. On the second evening I saw the whole of the Thirty Tigers showcase of Ida Mae, Asleep At The Wheel, John Smith, John Oates, Wade Bowen and The Rails and also managed to fit in Big Indie acts Dylan Earl and Willi Carlisle. The UK Americana Awards was hosted by Bob Harris and in-between the presentation of the awards were performances by Bennett Wilson Poole, Curse Of Lono, Yola, Jade Bird, Ethan Johns, Israel Nash, Rhiannon Giddens, Ben Glover, Mary Gauthier and Graham Nash. It was a smoothly run show and the complicated logistics of getting so many performers on and off stage was executed without a hitch. The whole event must be a major feat of organisation for the Americana Music Association UK and their indefatigable CEO Stevie Freeman and they should be congratulated on a job superbly done. The organisation is now well established with a membership of over a thousand and now offer a Supporter Membership alongside the original membership base of musicians and music By was worth the wait. The influences of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young can be heard and even a shade of British folk-rock, but she moulds them into an original voice of her own with some well-crafted songs. The latest album from Danny Schmidt is Standard Deviation. There is the usual lyrical depth and poetry to his songs and there is a gentle feel to the arrangements with strings, guitars and female backing vocals giving a lush backdrop. This is the perfect feel of contentment for the themes of fatherhood and family that appear through the album and a sugar-coating for the more difficult themes he also covers. Colin Linden of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and TV show Nashville has got together for a first collaboration with Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars and Black Crowes. There is an The music mentioned in the Americana Round-up and much more can be heard on my radio show The Country and Roots Show at 10pm every Monday. Listen live or listen again at www.radioverulam.com. professionals. Apart from being a great showcase of talent it is a fabulous party for musicians who are usually ships in the night on touring schedules. Members of the association could also attend an after-party with lots of guests performing with Wild Ponies, who played the part of house band for the night. One of the most exciting aspects of AmericanaFestUK is discovering an artist who hasn’t previously appeared on my radar. A lot of people recommended Carson McHone (inset) and I wasn’t disappointed, she performed a superb solo set on stage at Oslo. I hadn’t heard any of her music before and her songs made a real impact on first listening. Hearing them in their full band version on her album Carousel was equally pleasurable. There is a shade of classic country melancholy in songs such as Sad, Lucky and Maybe They’re Just Good Friends and a glorious retro blues feel on Good Time Daddy Blues. enjoyable Ry Cooder-ish vibe to the album as the pair enjoy themselves with an excellent band and a bunch of impressive guest vocalist on a varied selection of covers. Billy Swan performs his own song Lover Please, Ruby Amanfu delivers a beautifully understated vocal on a 7-minute version of Kris Kirstofferson’s For The Good Times, Rachel Davis is on a couple of tracks and two of the Nashville TV stars Sam Palladio and Jonathan Jackson sing Crazy Arms and I Forgot To Remember To Forget respectively. The UK Americana sales chart has Down The Road Wherever by Mark Knopfler at number one followed by Be More Kind by Frank Turner and The Imperial by The Delines. In the US on the Americana Music Association Radio Play Album Chart, She Remembers Everything by Rosanne Cash is number one, followed by What It Is by Hayes Carll and Mark cmp Knopfler.