Master of Ceremonies: Phil Kaufman
East X Americana
The day before the Americana Music Festival kicks off, Americana fans can whet their appetite at this East Nashville event, which features a pretty impressive lineup, including locals Kevin Gordon, Tommy Womack, Webb Wilder, Jeff Black, Eric Brace and Peter Cooper, Irene Kelly, Bill Lloyd, Amelia White and Rod Picott, not to mention visitors Calico the Band (California), Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay (Texas), and Ashleigh Flynn (Oregon). But perhaps that’s burying the lede, because the master of ceremonies is Phil Kaufman, aka Road Mangler Deluxe — yes, the legendary road manager who stole patron saint of Americana Gram Parsons’ dead body from the Los Angeles airport and burned it in Joshua Tree National Forest to honor the late singer’s wish. And if you haven’t been to the East-Centric Pavilion (near the corner of 11th and Fatherland), now’s your chance to check out one of the city’s coolest and most intimate outdoor venues.
Critically acclaimed songwriter Amelia White's long awaited fourth album, Motorcycle Dream, has arrived. The album contrasts the pretty but gritty urgency of White's honest unaffected vocals and core band with lush vibrating guitars and keys that match the melodic beauty of her songs. The songs are lyrically cinematic, and have a strong theme of wanderlust and flight from earthly troubles. Within this, White explores addiction, political and personal bullies, her dog's near death experience, stranger's broken hearts, and new love.
Louisville KY | Pop
Ashleigh Flynn's most recent release, American Dream, is alive with stories about down-and-outers, young and old, all still hopeful, as is Flynn, that they can achieve the American Dream. The emotional depth and stellar storytelling will no doubt continue her trajectory of national acclaim and impressive sales. American Dream has won Flynn the following praise, as well as performance spots on Mountain Stage (NPR's nationally syndicatedlive music show), opening spots across the US for Todd Snider:
"Her latest release makes it clear that she's got the natural vocal soulfulness separating the contenders from the pretenders....[Flynn's] American Dream is true blue Americana."
- PASTE Magazine, May 2008
"Possessing vocals graced with otherworldy clarity, it's tempting to call Ashleigh Flynn Americana's answer to Norah Jones. That comparison, however, hardly describes Flynn's genuinely compelling storytelling."
-Performing Songwriter, July/August 2008
"I haven't been knocked out by a female songwriter like this since I first encountered a young Patty Griffin or Nanci Griffith."
-Jambase, 2008 High Sierra Review
From Kentucky, Ashleigh Flynn grew up foot stomping along the Ohio River as the steamboats and barges made their way to the muddy Mississippi. An electrifying performer blessed with unbridled charisma, Flynn has released two previous full-length studio efforts, Chokecherry (2002) and Ashleigh Flynn, self-titled (1999), and a live recording Live at Mississippi Studios (2005). The Village Voice regards Ashleigh as "A darling of the NW Americana scene", writing: "Flynn adds a smoky soulful voice. . . marrying styles such as bluegrass to pop." On American Dream, listeners join Flynn in exploring profound questions about the historical and political consequences of manifest destiny. Beguiling and wise, Flynn's musical poetry muses on the expansive American Dream.
Bill Lloyd is a Nashville based songwriter, musician, recording artist and producer who is most often remembered as half of the late ’80’s RCA country-rock duo, Foster and Lloyd. Lloyd’s diverse musical activities include working as a producer (ranging from Carl Perkins to MTV reality show indie-rockers, The Secret), a session player (from Brit-pop icons like Ray Davies of The Kinks and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze to country legends like Buck Owens and Steve Earle), a sideman (Poco, Marshall Crenshaw and with Cheap Trick when they perform The Beatles Sgt. Pepper with orchestra) and as a songwriter (with songs cut by Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Keith Anderson, Hootie and the Blowfish and many more). He has recorded a string of critically acclaimed solo records that blend his melodic power pop sensibility with finely tuned song craft. During his three-year stint as the Stringed Instrument Curator at The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, he helped create the quarterly series Nashville Cats, that he continues to host. He’s the music director for the First Amendment Center in Nashville. He also organized and plays in Nashville’s high concept cover band, The Long Players recently profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Austin TX | Country
Brennen Leigh is a songwriter, multi instrumentalist and singer whose to-the-point storytelling style has elevated her to newfound cult status in Europe, across the United States, South America and most notably in her native Austin, Texas. Only slightly less famous for her musicianship, it's easy to see why she's caught the ear of greats like legendary Lubbock fiddler Tommy Hancock (widely regarded as the godfather of West Texas music), who was quoted as saying of Leigh's work; "It's great to hear music that affects you on an intellectual level as well as makes you want to dance".
All musical and performing prowess aside, the thing Brennen has become most famous for is her whip-smart songwriting. Her songs have been recorded by the likes of Lee Ann Womack, Sunny Sweeney, and the Carper Family among others. She has collaborated with songwriting greats such as Jim Lauderdale, John Scott Sherrill and David Olney. Fans flock to hear her perform whatever new composition she has added to her already astounding catalogue of songs. When not on tour, Brennen Leigh splits her time between Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee.
Austin TX | Americana
Noel McKay is a songwriter who was raised in Lubbock, Texas and The Texas Hill Country. His songs have taken him across the United States and all over the world. In 1993 he was discovered by songwriting legend Guy Clark while performing his songs at a venue in Kerrville, Texas. Clark's mentorship has been a key component to Noel's success as a songwriter. In the 2000'S Noel had several regional hits across the state of Texas with his brother Hollin McKay in the band McKay Brothers. Those songs can still be heard from time to time getting spun on Texas Radio stations and satellite radio. These days Noel can be found playing his songs to packed houses of astute listeners both stateside and in Europe. He's recently discovered the art of co-writing and has written songs with greats such as Guy Clark, Richard Dobson, John Scott Sherrill, Shawn Camp and Brennen Leigh. Recently Leigh has become Noel McKay's Songwriting and duet partner and their collaborations have garnered wide acclaim. When not on the road, Noel splits his time between Austin and Nashville.
Nashville TN | Country
Irene Kelley’s signature mix of Bluegrass, Country and Americana appeals to music lovers across all genres. A native of Latrobe, PA, Irene Kelley discovered her flair for songwriting as a teenager and soon found her way to Nashville, TN where her songs were quickly noticed and recorded by Carl Jackson, Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White. While recording an album for MCA and independently releasing two more records and touring worldwide, Irene raised two daughters and scored cuts with Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood, Loretta Lynn, Pat Green, Brother Phelps, Rhonda Vincent, Claire Lynch, Darrell Scott, The Whites, the Osborne Brothers and others. A new full-length Bluegrass album – “Pennsylvania Coal” – produced by Grammy Award-winner Mark Fain is due out in 2013. The new collection features Carl Jackson, Rhonda Vincent, Claire Lynch, Trisha Yearwood, Jerry Salley, Dale Ann Bradley, Darren Vincent, Bryan Sutton, Stuart Duncan, Adam Steffey, Steve Gulley and other friends.
Kansas City MO | Singer-Songwriter
After critically acclaimed commercial releases on label homes, fan favorite independent releases on his own Lotos Nile Music imprint, song placement on numerous independent films, thirty plus years of celebrated live performing and songs covered by artists as diverse as Alison Krauss, Waylon Jennings, Sam Bush, Blackhawk, Jerry Douglas, and Dierks Bentley, Jeff continues to solidify his reputation as a creative force in the roots genres. Continuing to evolve as a master songwriter, performer and recording artist, Black has never before expressed so much of the creative process on his own terms, deepening his work and leaving the listener with some of Black’s most fully formed and resonant music of his career. In the tradition of the great storytellers, his passionate live performances of songs from his vast catalog are a must see.
"The tradition of an artist delivering songs that are damn near perfectly crafted and filled with the wisdom of the ages."
-Jedd Beaudoin | PopMatters
"Nothing short of brilliant. Top to bottom, this stuff is special. Black is an artist of substance."
A Louisiana native now based in Nashville, Kevin Gordon is a songwriter whose work has been recorded by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, Levon Helm of The Band, Irma Thomas, Ronnie Hawkins, Webb Wilder, Kate Campbell, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, and others. The title track from his Down to the Well CD, a duet with Grammy winner Lucinda Williams, has been featured on two prominent compilations: the 2001 Oxford American Southern Music Sampler, and No Depression: What It Sounds like, Volume 1, released by Dualtone. Gordon tours regularly throughout the U.S. Also a published poet, Gordon holds an MFA degree from the renowned University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Eric Brace and Peter Cooper
Nashville TN | Singer-Songwriter
Grammy nominees Eric Brace & Peter Cooper have created a body of work that reflects their journalistic sensibilities, a love of harmony and wry humor, and their deep respect for the masters they've played with.
April 2013 marks the release of Eric Brace & Peter Cooper's third duo record, The Comeback Album, a sparkling set of songs that feature the pair's splendid harmonies and deft storytelling.
The duo forayed into the world of children's music with the Grammy-nominated I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow, was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Weekend Edition,” in USA Today and the Chicago Sun-Times, and was named a Top 5 Americana album by Rich Kienzle in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Produced by Brace and Cooper, the album features performances by Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Bobby Bare, Duane Eddy, Jim Lauderdale, Elizabeth Cook, as well as Brace, Cooper, and others.
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper are touring partners and have collaborated on two previous albums. On Master Sessions the pair fronted a band that featured pedal steel guitar legend Lloyd Green and dobro master Mike Auldridge, and the album made numerous critics’ Best-of 2010 lists. Their first record together, You Don’t Have To Like Them Both, was a Top Ten album on the Roots, Americana, and Folk charts.
Brace and Cooper have acclaimed music careers outside their work as a duo. Brace, a former music journalist for the Washington Post leads the renowned roots rock band Last Train Home. Started in Washington, DC in 1997, and now based in Nashville, Brace & LTH have released eight CDs, several EPs, and a full-length concert DVD, with a new album in the works.
On moving to Nashville, Brace found a kindred spirit in Peter Cooper, a music writer for the Tennessean and other publications, and a professor of country music at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. Cooper released two critically praised solo records, Mission Door from 2008 and The Lloyd Green Album in 2010 on Brace’s Red Beet Records label.
On tour, Brace and Cooper’s shows are engaging and funny and reflect the pair's easy camaraderie. They can command the stage of a concert hall or festival with the same ease and intimate feel they bring to a coffeehouse. The duo has opened on large stages for John Prine, Nanci Griffith, Don Williams, Todd Snider, Rodney Crowell, Iris Dement, Chris Smither, Dan Tyminsky, Travis Tritt & Jerry Douglas, among others. They've shared the stage with Tom T. Hall, Jim Lauderdale, Suzy Bogguss, Dan Navarro, Marshall Chapman, Kim Carnes, Emmylou Harris, and others. They've recently played such U.S. festivals as Bristol Rhythm & Roots, Tin Pan South, Americana Music Festival, Folk Alliance International, 30A Songwriters, and Knoxville Rhythm and Blooms, as well as the Truck, Summertyne, and Maverick festivals in the U.K. They are frequent guest DJ’s on the legendary WSM radio station in Nashville.
Rod Picott is the songs he sings. Since before Woody Guthrie songwriters have soaked their public image in sepia tones singing about the working life but Picott bears the scars of actually living that blue collar life. Rod Picott's songs are inhabited by sheetrock hangers, drinkers, circus hands, boxers and working girls and he sings about his characters with intimacy. Listening to a Rod Picott album you can smell the gasoline on a mechanics hands and the perfume of lovers in dark corners. The son of a welder and former Marine, Picott grew up in the small mill town of South Berwick, Maine. His father's record collection spanned Ray Charles to John Philip Sousa and James Brown. His is older brother introduced him to the punk poetry of Lou Reed and Patti Smith. The tall, wiry framed Picott made his living as a sheetrock worker from high school until he released his first cd, Tiger Tom Dixon's Blues, in 2001. He tours the U.S. in a Jeep Cherokee with a current odometer reading of 244,300 miles and annually in Europe and the U.K. playing 120 plus shows yearly. Picott is lauded for his narrative and melodic songwriting, passionate delivery and darkly humorous onstage storytelling. Rod Picott is currently touring in support of his most recent album, Welding Burns.
As both an artist and a person, Tommy Womack has been called everything from “Tom Lehrer with a Telecaster” to “Nashville’s best loved musical eccentric,” and he might blushingly, but proudly, accept both titles. That’s because separating Womack the man and Womack the artist is impossible, as they’re both the same guy. An award-winning recording artist and a published author, Womack writes songs as honest as anything Hank Williams or Steve Earle ever recorded, and has attracted the attention of the national press while accumulating a loyal following.
Womack came to Nashville from Kentucky, where he led the legendary post-punk band Government Cheese. Then came the short-lived bis-quits (who made one great record for John Prine’s Oh Boy! Label and brought Tommy and Will Kimbrough together for the first time of what has become a long, fruitful partnership). After the demise of the bis-quits, Womack immortalized Government Cheese’s story in the cult classic rock bio Cheese Chronicles: The True Story of a Rock ’n’ Roll Band You’ve Never Heard Of. (With the release of a 2 CD anthology of Government Cheese’s, a sell-out reunion tour, and the success of the book, the Cheese is arguably a bigger band now than they ever were when they were together!)
On his fourth solo album – the career-defining There, I Said It! – Womack, sang about how his better days appeared to be behind him. “Nice Day”, a heart-tugging tale of a father enjoying a day swimming with his son while financial worries swirl in his head, won the “Best Song” award in the 2007 Nashville Scene Critics poll (an award he’s won twice). That record also features his epic tour de force “Alpha Male & The Canine Mystery Blood” is 8 minutes of cathartic musings on life, love and aging that often moves audiences to standing ovations.
With the release of 2012’s Now What!, Womack picks up where he left off. “This record is totally a sequel. Hence the title. The last record was all about being washed up.” he says, “This one is about what happened when ’There, I Said It!’ gave me my career back. Songs about home and family (“Play That Cheap Trick, Cheap Trick Play”; “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Good”) collide into songs about the perils of road life (“On and Off the Wagon” and the hilarious - if blood-chilling - “90 Miles an Hour Down a Dead-End Street”.) In between, we meet old flames in the grocery (“Bye & Bye”), grow old ungracefully (“Over the Hill”) and ponder simple love (“I Love You to Pieces”; “Wishes Do Come True”; and the album closer “Let’s Have Another Cigarette”.)
Womack is omnipresent in Music City, both live and on record, whether working with Will Kimbrough in their band DADDY, who have released two records, to leading the Alphabetical Kinks with Bill Lloyd (playing a night full of Kinks tunes done in alphabetical order, starting with “All Day & All of the Night” and ending with “You Really Got Me”), or leading his Clash tribute band Tommy Gun, or being in his harmony vocalist’s band backing Lisa Oliver-Gray (who’s record he co-produced) on simply playing his own show being backed by his own fine band, the Rush to Judgment. “I like being busy.” Womack says, “Keeps me out of trouble. I’ve been in enough trouble as it is. I feel lucky getting to do all this. After growing up such a square peg and spending so much time miserable, I like getting near 50 and actually thinking, ’hey, it’s fun being me.’”
Hardly a purist, he has described the music he and his band, The Beatnecks, make as, "Rock for Roots fans and Roots for Rock fans." In essence: Rock and Roll. There’s nothing new about combining R & B, Rock and Roll, Country, Blues, Pop and Rock. The Rolling Stones and the Beatles proved that it can yield marvelous and diverse results. I said he wasn’t a PURIST. I didn’t say he wasn’t very PICKY about the quality of the music. That includes everything from the sonics of the recordings, the choice of players, the influences he draws on, the songs he chooses to cover, or how attentive he is to the craftsmanship of his own songs.
The self-proclaimed "Last Of The Full Grown Men" hasn’t limited his creativity to the music business. There’s the picture business. His critically acclaimed indie films made him a cult hero and led to a major motion picture (Peter Bogdonavich’s "The Thing Called Love," Paramount). He’s done guest appearances on others' albums (Ben Folds, Jason Ringenberg, Farmer Jason, William Shatner, Maura O’Connell), and a Disney produced duo of companion CDs for the animated movie "Cars." His smooth baritone has been used for voice-overs on countless radio commercials; he even did a stint as one of America’s FIRST Satellite DJs on XM Radio for four and a half years. Using all manner of media, Webb Wilder has been impacting Popular culture (and it him) for way over 20 years, all the while maintaining a devoted worldwide fan base through a relentless, never ending tour schedule.