SlideSHOW: WMOT’s Star Studded AmericanaFest Day Stage 2023
At some point during the past six years, WMOT’s AmericanaFest Day Stage went from being a tradition to an institution, if we may say so. Our program director Jessie Scott has been in music and radio for decades, so she’s got an address book and good will like few others. We always stand amazed at the stature of artists she’s able to wrangle for Nashville’s biggest week of roots music.
Never competing with Americana’s official showcases, we offer music by day when hardly anybody else is, and our members and friends love coming out and having a place to gather, beat the heat, and enjoy live music in the ideal surroundings of East Side Bowl. We’ve webcast the Day Stage for many years, but this year we stepped up our game with the partnership of Middle Tennessee State’s mobile production truck and extra cameras. It was Jessica Rigsby’s first year directing the show, and she was fantastic. The replays of each day’s shows can be found HERE.
We were delighted as well to work with veteran Nashville photographer John Partipilo, who made the memories we’re able to share here.
We got underway on Wednesday with American Songster Dom Flemons, who this year stepped up his identity as a songwriter with his album Traveling Wildfire. He played the bones and harp, rags on the guitar and the banjo while delivering stories that rectify history, notably his exceptional “Nobody Wrote It Down.”
Bobby Rush wasn’t politically correct but he was all blues as the iconic musician held court from a chair with an acoustic guitar. Usually he brings a whole revue but this was a look at the deep roots of a performer approaching his 90th birthday.
The Wash at East Side Bowl was riveted by nothing but six strings and the flying fingers of guitar star Tommy Emmanuel. Chet Atkins declared him a Certified Guitar Player for every reason imaginable.
Songwriting veteran Eilen Jewell has had a fantastic year as her album Get Behind The Wheel spent the entire summer in the upper reaches of the Americana chart. Her easy-going but incisive country songs were elevated by her longtime guitar player Jerry Miller.
Maggie Rose has sung for our events for years and we feel like she’s family - family who can out-sing nearly every woman out there. Fronting her super soulful band, Rose offered songs from her breakout 2022 album Have A Seat and a few from a new project coming soon.
Then came Thursday and an entirely new flavor of Americana as Easy Eye recording artists Hermanos Gutierrez hit the stage. Hot off their performance at the Honors and Awards show, Alejandro and Estevan Gutiérrez did their thing - dark and twangy instrumentals on guitars with intergalactic reverb.
Always reliable and exciting, Band of Heathens opened their set with “Stormy Weather” from their hugely successful 2023 album Simple Things. It’s been a long journey of growth and adapting for Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist since forming the band in Austin in 2005, and they sound tighter and more powerful than ever.
Texas country music has been coming to Nashville and making it a better Music City for decades, and of late that historic procession has added songwriter and band leader Kaitlin Butts. With a voice always on the edge of a yodel, she threw down some hot tunes, including her fun and cosmic “Marfa Lights.”
Australia’s Sons of the East came all this way to us on just about the one year birthday of their debut album Palomar Parade. Their banjo-enhanced folk pop rang true from the Wash stage.
Jobi Riccio’s album Whiplash stirred up as much advance buzz as any debut we can think of this year. The Colorado native laid her truth on the line in a set of lush and sometimes sad songs with a four piece band.
On Friday came an unannounced treat as actor/musician Lola Kirke stepped in for nearly an hour of music at the noon hour. Singing with only the backing of a pedal steel guitar, Kirke previewed an EP she has coming early next year, produced by Elle King.
For sheer electricity, groove and holy fervor, nobody topped Chris and Courtney, the Memphis fellows who play as the Sensational Barnes Brothers. They take classic gospel tunes and smoke them up with a seven-piece band.
Guitarist, rock and roll shouter, songwriter and showman Eddie 9V has become a favorite of our team and a regular at WMOT events. So it was great to see him and his fellows again as they brought their retro rock and roll and hearty blues to the stage. Dude always brings the fun.
Nashville’s Lindsay Lou is always shape shifting, building on her folk and bluegrass family background with an ever expanding vision of roots pop. She promised a suite of songs written of the past three “tumultuous” years for an album this week, and she delivered with a crack band.
Brandy Clark was hot off an awards duet performance with Brandi Carlile but she didn’t need help performing solo with a guitar and her thrilling and gorgeous voice. Clark has a deep catalog of songs for mainstream country artists, but her ability to transcend categories with her sheer humanity always impresses. She’ll play her first Ryman headlining show in October.
The WMOT Team says “Thanks A Lot!”