The SummerTyne Americana Festival held on the south bank of the River Tyne now in its 10th year came of age in more ways than one; for it has now grown to become a true family event, more and more free shows indoors. Not only do you have Tyneside’s Jumpin’ Hot Club hugely popular DFDS Seaways sponsored outdoor stage hosting 21 different acts over three days, but an almost non-stop array of performers in the Concourse. Among which you had main stage American solo act Anderson East, plus promising British country acts Ward Thomas, The Black Feathers, and even a folk country orchestra! Fronted by Bradley Creswick the RNS All-Stars got into the spirit of the music, and had Archie Brown lead them through one song. Sure, it was all a little quirky but nevertheless interesting and entertaining at the same time.
Festival Reports | 2015
Maverick is a state of mind, a place in the year that it is an oasis, is long been my aiming point, the focal point of my calendar. It’s a bit like Christmas, an anchor point, things are either before or after. So quite often the mechanics of my household work on the ‘Maverick scale’, tasks are apportioned before Maverick or after. Such is its value. It’s the best time of the year. It’s the best festival. Best bands, best beer and the best people.
2015’s line up is no exception, Friday is spent marvelling at the terrific peacock back drop behind The Dreaming Spires doing their very best Teenage Fanclub. It’s good to see a band not just with great tunes, but embrace performance and the business of show, bass player in a tie for example, well played old chap. I love the recent single and ‘The Spires’ live is a great festival aperitif.
Gentlemen of Few, Rob Heron & the Tea Pad Orchestra, Curtis Eller and the American Circus
It’s a pretty big deal in folk circles I’m told Beverley, and certainly attracts a number of the genres big hitters. It’s a funny old layout, half using the racecourses facilities, half in marquees on the pasture of the stray within the course. Wet weather prepared maybe? It is an older audience, so the Americana Afternoon is something of a coup, something radical, times they are a changin’.
Every year the Cambridge Folk Festival has a strong American presence and every few years it’s those performers who provide the major moments and memories. This was one of those years. Some enthused over the Punch Brothers or Peggy Seeger, both of whom leave this writer cold, or Gretchen Peters, who I find classy but unengaging (give me Kim Richey any day) but there were three acts that generated universal acclaim. The veteran Chris Smither arrived at the festival in a typically low key way, on foot with his guitar on his back, and delivered two effortlessly classy and engaging sets. His guitar playing alone would mark him out as a star, but his writing, thoughtful, intelligent, wry and witty, more than matches it and he was, quite simply, a delight. Then Rhiannon Giddins, of the currently on hiatus Carolina Chocolate Drops, backed by the coolest looking band of the weekend, delivered an astonishing set. Her voice, range, phrasing and choice of material were exemplary and in any other year her Main Stage set would have been the best of the festival. But there was one other act who stole the hearts of the attendees, in much the same way that the Waifs did a decade ago. Roots trio the Stray Birds played on the Main Stage, in the Club Tent and on Stage 2 and each performance was better than the last (and the first was a 10/10). I raved about their debut album on this site a couple of years ago and now, in front of an audience to whom they were largely an unknown quantity, they delivered in spades. Powerful and perfect harmonies combined with great playing, great originals and fine selection of covers, they clustered round their single microphone and played and sang their hearts out.