AmericanaFest feat. Drive-By Truckers, Futurebirds, The White Buffalo & more
Thu · September 14, 2017
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 7:30 pmMercy Lounge
This event is 18 and over
7:30pm - Dawn Landes
8:30pm - Nicole Atkins
9:30pm - The Lumineers
10:30pm - Buddy Miller
11:30pm - Drive-By Truckers
8:00pm - Cat Clyde
9:00pm - Cordovas
10:00pm - SUSTO
11:00pm - Futurebirds
8:00pm - Mike and the Moonpies
9:00pm - Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
10:00pm - The White Buffalo
11:00pm - Gill Landry
Midnight - The Kernal
For the full festival line-up, visit http://americanamusic.org/http://www.mercylounge.com/event/1544396/
home in Austin, Texas, they carry the torch of their predecessors, while maintaining the
originality and independence that the genre is infamous for. The Moonpies, led by Texas born
songwriter Mike Harmeier, manage themselves and produce their own albums. While steeped in
tradition, the Moonpies rejuvenate honky tonk and traditional country music and appeal to a
wildly eclectic audience. They are equally at home in dance halls and theaters, and can share a
bill with an indie rock band or a country legend.
The Moonpies live on the road and have the scars to prove it. Currently touring the U.S. in
support of their third studio album, "Mockingbird," they continue to live up to their reputation as
one of the hardest working and veracious bands in independent country music.
"Mockingbird" is the 3rd studio album for Mike and the Moonpies. Produced by frontman Mike
Harmeier and longtime friend and musician Michael Kingcaid (What Made Milwaukee Famous),
the album features 10 brand new original songs all written by Harmeier and performed by the
Moonpies. Several guest performers that appeared on 2012's "The Hard Way" returned for this
one, including Warren Hood (Lyle Lovett), Jenn Miori Hodges (Carper Family), and Pete Weiss
(Leo Rondeau). Recorded at the legendary Cedar Creek Studio in Austin by John Silva (the
Trishas) and mixed at Good Danny's in Austin by Max Lorenzen, "Mockingbird" is the band's
best sounding album to date. This collection of songs find Harmeier in a very nostalgic state of
mind both lyrically and musically. On the title track, reminiscent of Steve Earle's "Guitar Town,"
Harmeier sings about the influence of his father and grandfather on him today. The debut single
"Smoke Em If You Got Em" kicks off with an Allman Brothers style guitar riff and speaks about
the evolution of Harmeier and his band in the music industry. Lookout for several surprises on
this album which is far and away the band's most eclectic to date. "Mockingbird" is sure to make
a huge impact on the Texas Country scene and place the Moonpies in a position to break into
the Americana genre, where a large majority of traditional country and roots music currently
While strongly rooted in bluegrass, old-time, and folk music, the band produces a sound that draws on the vaults of music collectively and individually enjoyed throughout the course of their lives thus far. The music doesn't lend itself well to categories or boundaries. One could probably be formed, but the boys seem to generally prefer fishing a river, or enjoying the company of friends and barley beers.
Yet with their music well-defined or not, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades has begun to form a place in the Midwest music scene, gaining recognition on both a regional and national scale. The band took 3rd place at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival's Band Competition in 2012 and has since shared the stage with Trampled By Turtles, The Travelin' McCourys, Railroad Earth, Merle Haggard, The Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Marty Stuart, and many more. The group's third full-length Middle Western was released in March of 2015. Being mostly inspired by rivers, valleys, good friends, and good drink, this five-piece is as sturdy as any Midwest riverbed and will make your toes tap from sundown to sunrise.
Although recorded in Smith's hometown of Los Angeles, where he grew up listening to the country twang of George Jones and the pissed-off punk of Bad Religion, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights looks to the passion and punch of White Buffalo's live shows for inspiration. Smith has been a road warrior for more than a decade, doubling as his own tour manager along the way. Gig after gig, he's built a cult following without a major label's support, boosting his band's international visibility with more than a dozen TV-worthy songs — including the Emmy-nominated "Come Join the Murder" — that were featured on shows like Sons of Anarchy and Californication.
"I'm kind of an island," he says proudly. "We tour on our own and have built our own fanbase, so the idea with this album was to capture that live feel — the passion that we produce in a stage setting — in a studio performance."
Island or not, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights finds Smith reaching far beyond his own experience for a string of detailed, character-driven songs. Many of these tunes explore the gloomy, dangerous corners of America, spinning stories of sinners, crooks, bad decisions and broken hearts. On "Border Town/Bury Me in Baja," a drug dealer awaits his death at the hands of the Mexican mafia. "Avalon," a desperate, driving anthem worthy of Bruce Springsteen, finds its protagonist "wishing he could flip a switch [and] turn his life around." "Nightstalker Blues" — an amped-up blast of harmonica-filled, guitar-fueled roots rock — revolves around the story of serial killer Richard Ramirez, whose murder spree haunted southern California during the mid-Eighties.
As the album's own title promises, though, this is a record about balance. A record about life's ups and downs. "I wanted to hit all the emotional spots," explains Smith, whose voice — a booming, rumbling baritone, with a slight quaver that can sound ominous one minute and warmhearted the next — takes a tender turn during love songs like "Observatory" and "If I Lost My Eyes."
Together, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights offers up the White Buffalo's strongest material to date, doubling down on Smith's strengths while pushing his sound into new territory. Stripped-down folk. Electrified swamp-soul. Heartland rock. Bluesy boogie-woogie. It's all here, tied together by the super-sized vocals and articulate songwriting of a bandleader whose work is sometimes moody, sometimes menacing, but always melodic
"My hope is that this album will touch people," he says. "Make people feel. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The darkest darks, and the lightest lights."
For Michael Trotter Jr., the journey began in 2004, when he arrived in Iraq, an untested soldier stricken by fear and self-doubt. His captain made it his personal mission to see to Trotter’s survival. The unit was encamped in one of Saddam Hussein’s private palaces, and in a forgotten corner in its basement, they found a black upright piano that once belonged to the dictator himself. When Trotter shared the fact he could sing, he was encouraged to teach himself to play piano on that confiscated keyboard. “I wrote my first song after that captain was killed,” Trotter recalls. “I sang it for his memorial in Iraq.” Soon after it became his mission to sing at the memorial services for those that had fallen. For the next three years, he sang songs that brought solace and comfort to the members of his unit. His efforts eventually garnered wider recognition as well. He came in first place in “Military Idol,” the army’s version of “American Idol,” during a competition held in Baumholder, Germany. Following his discharge, he was featured on the Hope Channel program “My Story, My Song.”
Then he met Tanya Blount. Blount's musically influences include Mahalia Jackson, Sister Odette and Aretha Franklin. The two fell in love, got married and used the experiences they had gained to create a new musical collaboration.
The couple then secured the services of musicians whose skills add a distinctive sound to The War and Treaty’s blend of roots music, blue grass,folk, gospel and soul. Recorded in Albion, Michigan, Down to the River boasts a sound that’s both stirring and sensual, driven by joy, determination and an unceasing upward gaze. The music is visceral but never morose, flush with emotion but void of despair… a style that touches on a variety of genres, but never finds itself confined to anyone. The arrangements are uncluttered– harmonies, basslines, guitar and mandolin licks, settle drum patterns and keyboards create an immensely moving soundscape — but the sentiments and emotions are fully realized and soar with a steady, chilling assurance. “The recording process wasn’t like anything I ever experienced,” Tanya recalls. “This EP has allowed me to breathe musically. I feel like all I have wanted to express for the past ten years has come forth with what we’ve done. The combination of heart, soul and the overwhelming amount of love that Michael and I have for one another comes across in this record. “
"I was sitting on the banks of the Euphrates River in Baghdad dreaming about one day being able to play and sing professionally for people all around the world,” Michael reflects. “As we recorded our music, I constantly had flashbacks of those desert dreams. I thought to myself that this is actually the perfect ending to usher in a new beginning in my life.”
That beginning can be heard in the album’s first single “Hi Ho,” a WMNF hit that is now being heard on radio stations throughout the country. Still, for all their optimism and initial intent, The War and Treaty, knows that as their name suggests, perseverance is key to success. They continue to tour, their five year old son in tow, hoping to share songs of reconciliation and humanity.
Gill’s most current self titled third album was released on the ATO label, Though his influences are with songsmiths such as Dylan, Newman, Townes, Cohen, Prine, Waits, etc… his music is very much his own. As Jeff Tamarkin put it, “Landry’s too sharp a storyteller, too tuned-in a craftsman, too real, to find himself on the wrong side of suspicion. Like Tom Waits, John Prine, Steve Earle... Landry is down-to-business believable. His songs carry their own persona, and though they may be creepy and otherworldly at times and nasty and grubby at others, they’re familiar while remaining at arm’s length.”
Gill produced and recorded the album, “from a ramshackle, shanty-ass apartment on the south side of Nashville,” but was aided by a constellation of talents gathered on his travels. From Laura Marling, who duets on “Take This Body”, an urgent plea that imagines the desperate love that courses through our impermanence, to trumpeter Nick Etwell of Mumford and Sons, who plays with tasteful power on a handful of songs. Odessa lends harmonies and violin to a number of tunes, including the waltz-time love letter “Emily”, and Robert Ellis’s eloquent and understated guitar work on “Fenario” and “Bad Love” is mellifluous.
An album that anyone can relate to, and will want to listen to over and over, with their lovers. Even if those lovers are just in their minds.
You may have seen or heard The Kernal in his other incarnation as a bass player with such artists as Andrew Combs and Jonny Fritz. But LIGHT COUNTRY introduces us to a funny, whip-smart songwriter and musical stylist on these original tracks. The album opens with the sweeping gospel number, “Where We’re Standing,” which builds to a swirling electric guitar outro. He describes “Knock Kneed Ballerina” as a “shoulder-dance country song and a sort of personal, band-mission statement;” it’s also a knowing nod to the classic sound of ‘70s Nashville Countrypolitan hits and a poignant ode to musical also-rans everywhere. “At the Old Taco Bell” was inspired by a photo of a boarded up, derelict Taco Bell. “It’s about me moving into an abandoned, and therefore affordable, Taco Bell at some point in the future,” he deadpans. Elsewhere he tackles modern domesticity (the Harry Nilsson-esque “Cold Shoulder”), and ends on an apology of sorts for his choice of lifestyle, “I earned my degree but I would rather rake some leaves … Barely eatin’ and meetin’ my rent.”
LIGHT COUNTRY is a family affair, but the family at this point is the family of memory; it was 2010 when the Kernal went into the attic of his childhood home in Pinewood, TN and found his
late father’s red Opry suit (it’s the suit he’s wearing on the album cover). An English major who’s as likely to reference Bela Bartok and Terry Allen as a country music legend, the Kernal was inspired to write his own songs after donning his late father’s red Opry suit. He discovered that it fit and began to feel its mojo. “It was a magic suit,” he confides. “It’s all about old fabrics on new skin, and seeing how they get along.”
“My dad,” the Kernal explains, “met Sleepy LaBeef at Linebaugh’s Restaurant in Nashville. Lonzo & Oscar were looking for a drummer and he asked my dad if he could play a shuffle beat on the table. He did and he left for a 10-day run the next day. It worked out because soon he was playing with Sleepy.” From there, his father found his way to The Kendalls, and eventually to the legendary Del Reeves, with whom he would play until Reeves’ death in 2007. His father died in September of the same year. These memories — this legacy of the old country music way, of rock and roll on the fly — was not lost on the Kernal, and he took it as starting point from which to build his own contribution to Southern music while celebrating its past.
LIGHT COUNTRY also features a snippet of the Kernal’s long-passed relatives singing gospel. He found old reel-to-reel tapes of his family’s gospel singing and was able to transfer the recordings and include snippets of their singing on the album. “They all came from the Rome, Georgia area and go back generations, back to the shape-note singing gospel books of the early Southern churches.”
This sense of place and history makes this an homage to family and the South, filtered through the Kernal’s literate, offbeat humor and sense of what makes a “good” country song. The Kernal inherited more than just a snappy red suit from his late Dad, he inherited his love of music and generations of musical history, as well as a dose of realism about “living the dream.”
This all gives LIGHT COUNTRY a color and depth you don’t often hear with a “young” artist. These songs have their own powerful energy, the chemistry of tension with the old guard and the young gun but with, according to the Kernal, “the respect and love that comes from the South itself.
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible, moving without pressure, over the dead leaves, in the autumn heat, through the vibrant air, and the bird called, in response to the unheard music hidden in the shrubbery, and the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses had the look of flowers that are looked at. There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting. So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern, along the empty alley, into the box circle, to look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged, and the pool was filled with water out of sunlight, and the lotos rose, quietly, quietly, the surface glittered out of heart of light, and they were behind us, reflected in the pool. Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, hidden excitedly, containing laughter. Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present.
1 Cannery Row
Nashville, TN, 37203