Festival Reports | 2014

Festival Reports | 2014

SummerTyne – The Sage, Gateshead 19th/20th July

SummerTyne – The Sage, Gateshead 19th/20th July

The North East’s super Jumpin’ Hot Club bands together a lip smacking line-up one more time for the North’s best Americana Festival one more time.  OK so it isn’t a camping in a field living on chips kind of festival that is Maverick, and it lacks a little of their homemade charm, but the FREE, you read that right, outdoor stage is always brilliant and serves up surprise after surprise.  The glorious outdoor amphitheatre next to the ‘spacey’ bubble domes, peering down on the Tyne is without doubt one of the best places to see Americana.

Alongside paying gigs for the Jayhawks and Ethan Johns the outdoor stage gives us 3 days of treats, Friday being local acts and is a bit lower key.  It’s the weekend proper when the fun starts, Saturday as Gambo used to say “is our day”, by the time I roll up Hannah Pickard & the Relatives have done their thing and Welsh songbird Lowri Evans is in full effect and the place is packed, the sun is out and the lark voiced Lowri is a joy after 2hrs on the A1 speed traps.

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Summertyne Americana Festival, Gateshead, July 18 - 20th 2014

Summertyne Americana Festival, Gateshead, July 18 - 20th 2014

It is always a tenses period for festival organisers when the success of a festival in part lies in the lap of the rain gods. While the Sage Gateshead’s SummerTyne Americana Festival, now in its ninth year isn’t only an outdoor event, the hugely popular and diverse Jumpin’ Hot Club stage held over three long afternoons is open to the elements.

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CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL 31 JULY – 3 AUGUST 2014

Loudon Wainwright III

The Cambridge Folk Festival has largely steered clear of special events, one-offs and attention-grabbing headliners, preferring to concentrate on delivering high quality music all the way down the bill.  Its fiftieth anniversary outing was no different and the result was some hugely impressive performances from both festival favourites and newcomers.  Of the former Loudon Wainwright III delivered probably the set of the festival.  His reputation as a humourist has perhaps prevented his genius as a songwriter being as well recognised as it should be but here he had the crowd from the moment he walked on in a St Louis Cardinals shirt with “50” and “Wainwright” on the back.  It was a funny set, but a brave and powerful one too, the centrepiece being a ten minute spoken word piece about the death of the family’s pet dog, which was touching and deeply moving.  Finishing with “White Winos” he left to roars of acclaim.  A solo Richard Thompson, armed only with an acoustic guitar, also delivered a perfectly judged set with beautiful versions of “Persuasion”, “Beeswing”, the crowd-pleasing “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” and more.

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SXSW 2014

SXSW 2014

Americana fans will be delighted to learn that as from March, you can now fly direct to Austin from Heathrow with British Airways. This gives you unprecedented access to legendary places like Waterloo Records, The Saxon Pub, The Hole In The Wall and the Continental. Just save up and go, you’ll never regret it.

It was after two days of chasing the likes of Band Of Skulls (failed), London Grammar (succeeded) and the utterly fantabulous Strypes (oh, to be a teenager) that I remembered I was supposed to be seeking out some Americana. Well, it’s not difficult. You just get out of the centre and head for places like the Broken Spoke, Threadgills and Maria’s Taco Express. But first, a wild and joyous (if chilly) river boat trip with the magnificent Kelley Stoltz, bringing Cheap Trick to the masses. We literally drank the ship dry. This man (who recently completed a super but under-publicized UK tour) literally records in his garage and issues his albums on vinyl only on Jack White’s Third Man label.

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