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The Americana Music Association Festival & Conference : September 10-15, 2012


Photos: (clockwise) Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, Buddy Miller & Lee Ann Womack, The Masterons


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oarding that US airplane to Nashville for the first time, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. We were heading for the bright lights of Music City in time for the 11th annual AMA festival and conference


scheduled over four consecutive days, and I can tell you, we were pretty excited about what the week had in store for us. With the days scorching hot (a lot hotter than I had anticipated it being) and the nights seemingly a little cooler, as usual, the increasingly popular event was dotted around several venues up and down Broadway and the surrounding areas and we found ourselves relying on the services of taxis we managed to flag down, the generous offers of lifts from the kind people we met up with and the shuttle bus we were fortunate enough to catch just once during our visit. Touching down sometime before 8pm on Monday evening


(around two o’clock in the morning UK time) our American experience began at the 3rd and Lindsley club a little way from the hubbub and noise of Nashville’s centre (we picked a taxi driver who—despite probably living there for long enough to know his way around—didn’t know the way to the club and we found ourselves giving him directions as opposed to the other way round) with a toe-tapping 2-hour set from Vince Gill (electric guitar) and the Time Jumpers that promised not to disappoint, and it certainly didn’t. Tuesday seemed to follow suit, as we were given a grand


tour of the more attractive and history-steeped sides of Nashville by singer-songwriter and record producer, Gail Davies (including the picturesque town of Franklin and the beautiful Belle Meade Plantation) as well as a chance meeting with legendary fiddler and session musician, Buddy Spicher and Gail’s multi-instrumentalist son, Chris Scruggs—a surname that requires no introduction, I hasten to add. The evening brought further highlights: We dined with the fresh-faced sibling two- piece Hannah and Caroline Melby of roots band, Hanalena (formally named Nash Street) at Pucketts grocery store and restaurant before heading up to the renowned Bluebird Café for some Australian-themed entertainment—the line-up consisting of Aussie singer-songwriters, Damian Howard, Lianna Rose, Ruby Boots and Felicity Urquhart amongst others providing thoroughly enthralling performances for the appreciative, sell-out audience. I even managed to bump into American recording artist, Jace Everett, which provided a memorable high all on its own.


4 Maverick


Wednesday was better still, officially marking the beginning


of the AMA festival as independent singer-songwriter and friend, Shantell Ogden rolled onto the hotel’s forecourt to take us on yet another driven tour around Nashville; briefly stopping for morning coffee and a chat before dropping by an intimate little Music Row studio where Eden’s Edge’s Hannah Blaylock and band were in the middle of recording Breathe Out alongside some of the industry’s finest session musicians, Rob Ickes (Dobro) and Ilya Toshinsky (guitar). Given the Spanish Inquisition at lunchtime for what bread and cheese I’d like for my sandwich (and in the UK we’re only really asked white or brown bread, red or white cheese), by the evening, we’d picked up our AMA passes and goodybags and were excitedly seated in the stunning Ryman Auditorium for the AMA awards show—the first of my AMA highlights—which saw stellar performances from the likes of Sarah Jarosz, Bonnie Raitt, Jim Lauderdale and Justin Townes Earle, and Booker T. Jones (Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist), Bonnie Raitt (Lifetime Achievement for Performance) and Alabama Shakes (New/Emerging Artist of the Year) walk away with much deserved awards. Thursday—the start of three ‘bursting-at-the-seams’


schedules—began with interviews from Joey and Rory at Gary Paczosa’s little farmhouse recording studio on the outskirts of the city and the warm-natured singer-songwriter, Sally Barris and her Waymore buddies Don Henry and Tim Kreckel in the Sheraton’s Starbucks café. The second of my AMA highlights came in the form of the beautiful Downtown Presbyterian Church where a live celebration of Phil Madeira’s MERCYLAND album was due to begin, and it certainly was an occasion not to be missed as guest after special guest—including Emmylou


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