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895 Fest: Cordovas Are Closers

Val Hoeppner
Joe Firstman leads Cordovas at last Fall's AmericanaFest Day Stage, produced by WMOT.
This is part of a series about 895 Fest, produced by WMOT and coming May 31 and June 1 to Hop Springs Beer Park.

  More than perhaps any time I can remember, Americana music is defined by songwriter/artists or duos, with fewer bands emerging as contenders for the headlining slots. That’s an observation not a criticism, but it’s worth noting that while artists like Jason Isbell and Margo Price have terrific bands, ensembles branded as bands with collective names tend to think a bit differently about music making and to offer a particular experience for the listener. One of the few bands to emerge in the past five years with novelty and chemistry to rival the longstanding kingpins like Wilco and The Mavericks is Nashville’s Cordovas.

The outfit will close Saturday night at 895 Fest and thus the festival itself. They can be expected to bring the same joyful flow and fervor that they exhibited last Fall when they did us a similar solid closing out WMOT’s five days of music during AmericanaFest at The Local.

Led by bass playing frontman Joe Firstman, the band spun songs from its debut album That Santa Fe Channel into a kind of suite. Slick segues mean the music never stops with these guys. And then as a kind of encore and tribute to one of their key influences, the band extemporized on “Truckin’” by the Grateful Dead.

The band hosted its annual music and arts festival in Todos Santos, Mexico in January then hit a long European tour. More recently they drove 1,700 miles to play a set at Stagecoach before launching a long run of shows with Jamestown Revival. And with any luck, they’re working on a new album, because That Santa Fe Channel was a WMOT Essential for 2018.

In the Cordovas episode of The String from last August re-posted here, all the members chime in to tell the story of how some dudes from North Carolina got big in LA, hit the skids and reinvented.