Grimey's know how to through a party. Their annual Record Store Day event is always awesome, and Saturday wasthe sixth installment of the original Americanarama - a free day of music in the middle of the Americana Music Association Conference.
Grimey's which began in a small shop in the Berry Hill section of Nashville and blossomed into one of the best and most respected record stores in the world. They are a magnet for musicians and music lovers. Metallica recorded a secret show at The Basement located below the shop but named the ensuing record "Live at Grimey's". Just about every cool band that comes through town, does an in-store at Grimey's. In addition, they are champions of many of the great up and coming bands.
Believe it or not, this was the first year that I was able to make it out for Americanarama, and I think I picked a good year.
The day began with The Reneaus who are either from Bowling Green, Kentucky or Nashville depending on who you ask. Regardless, I was not familiar with The Reneaus for this performance, but I now consider myself a fan.
Steelism were next, and although I was already familiar with them, this was the first chance I had to see them live. Steelism is the brain-child of Spencer Cullen Jr. and Jeremy Fetzer (Caitlin Rose). They have an amazingly original sound. Fronted by a Pedal Steel Guitar and featuring two drummers... favorite quote of the day, "I'm still hung over and the stage is leaning..."
Next up were The Dexateens. I've liked their music for a long time, but seeing them perform live was revelatory. I now count myself as a huge Dexateens fan. This was one of the most fun and energetic shows I've seen in a fair bit of time. The band's extensive and entertaining bio on Facebook mentions that they began as a punk band, and this spirit shows through.
After The Dexateens set, I decided to go inside to Howlin' Books and Grimey's, Too, and then I grabbed some lunch from Mas Tacos. Somehow, I made it back in time to introduce myself to a couple of The Dexateens and then to see Daughter play their set. I had ever heard of Daughter, but they have almost 300,000 likes on Facebook. They are from the UK. They played a stripped down set due to their regular instruments already being at the Exit/In where they were playing that night. They had a awesome atmospheric, moody sound which I really liked. Quite a transition from The Dexateens, but it was good. After their set, they were surrounded by hordes of young people (and by young people, I mean people younger than me which was I guess about half the crowd - give or take a few dozen).
Next up was T. Hardy Morris who is in the band Dead Confederate. We've played a few songs from his solo album Audition Tape, so it was good to see him live. I enjoyed the music, and I'm not sure if it's a persona or a personality but there was a bit of aloofness which I found a bit off-putting. Maybe especially after the complete openness of The Dexateens. But, I do know it's dangerous to compare bands, and like I said, the music was great.
Next up was The Autumn Defense featuring John Stirratt and Pat Sansone of Wilco. This was just some amazingly glorious music. Some delicious melodies and classic sounding vocals. Just brilliant. The inclusion of The Troggs classic Love is All Around Me underscored the classic sound that this band has captured.
Next up was one of most anticipated sets of the day. British Folk/Punk legend Billy Bragg took the small, slightly sloped stage and for about thirty minutes spoke truth and held court. After playing a few songs from his latest album including a Woody Guthrie cover which he introduced by referencing the brilliant Mermaid Avenue albums and acknowledging the presence of John Stirratt who along with the rest of Wilco played on those records, Bragg acknowledged that it was the 30th Anniversary of the release of his first album, Life's a Riot With Spy Vs. Spy. He said since the album was only 17 minutes long it was not worth renting out the Ryman or hiring symphony and that he could play the whole album as an encore and that he actually had enough time left to play it, and thus he launched into a blistering song by song cover of that masterpiece. There was a palpable energy running through the crowd.
After Billy Bragg headed inside to sign autographs and meet and greet, the ones of us who remained heard a couple of songs from the soon to be released High Cotton: A Tribute to Alabama. T. Hardy Morris came back from a ragged yet somehow brilliant version of the title track, and then the always amazing Amanda Shires (joined by Rod Piccott) performed her contribution to the record as well as one song from her new album. To be honest, I expected more from this set, but hey, I got a free t-shirt and seeing Amanda Shires perform is always a plus.
As the sun began to descend, the crowd thinned a bit, which is a shame because those who left, missed out on the final set of the day. Willie Sugarcapps is the new project (supergroup really) featuring Will Kimbrough, Greyson Capps, Sugarcane Jane, and Corky Hughes. They play a break amalgam of traditional music from the South. Folk, Blues, Country, what have you, and they have a whole lot of fun doing it. I've been a Will Kimbrough fan since his days leading the Bushmen, and I thoroughly enjoyed this set. Their new album is out now. Check it.
It was truly a great day of great music. Special thanks to all the staff of Grimey's for putting this thing on. And a shout out to Sandy - a long time Billy Bragg fan for buying me a beer.
Stay tuned for a quick run down of our normal shuffle in a bit...
I created a You Tube Playlist to commemorate the day...