The Best Intimate Americana Festival? Glasgow Americana!
So AMA’s Americanafest was spectacular (again!) this year, and we were also spoiled at the other huge Americana festivals – SXSW and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. But as the fall season takes hold and the nights get darker, even the hardiest Americana die-hard longs for something less exhausting and a little more intimate!
And that’s where Scotland comes into its own with Glasgow Americana. Thanks to a couple of great local promoters, Glasgow is now firmly on the Americana tour route year round, and the Glasgow Americana festival each October is always a highlight.
Maybe it’s the dreich weather (‘dreich’ is Scots slang for a combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable – at least 4 of these adjectives must apply before the weather is truly dreich!), but Americana tales of woe and misery always feel naturally at home in Glasgow.
This year the five-day festival was host to another great line up including Jason and The Scorchers, Steve Forbert, Sam Baker, AJ Roach, Eliza Gilkyson, Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt, with gigs taking place in a variety of intimate venues including two converted Churches and a Victorian Art Club (think comfy leather sofas, oak panelling, original art and great whisky).
Jason and The Scorchers opened the festival to a packed house – Jason could easily have filled a venue double the size, so the audience knew they were experiencing something special. The sight of lead guitarist Warner E. Hodges spinning his guitar in such a confined space, with Jason Ringenberg’s long theatrical coat and microphone lead entangling as he energetically paced the small stage – well, it was frankly a miracle that the (not-so-young) band kept upright! They played a wonderfully long set, with Jason revealing that he used anagrams instead of song titles on the band’s handwritten set lists – just to keep the band on their toes!
The highlight of the festival, for me, was the final gig of ‘Austin Musicians in the Round’, where the wonderful combination of Sam Baker and Carrie Elkin opening with ‘Odessa’ was worth the ticket price alone – and it was clear that the Austin musicians were enjoying themselves almost as much as their admiring audience. The finale of the gig was a version of ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken’ (http://youtu.be/a-PZ2zjE5MA) that left the audience venturing out into the dreich streets of Glasgow with huge smiles on their faces!
For anyone interested in making the trip to Glasgow, the 2013 dates for Glasgow Americana are 2nd to 6th October.