Here's a rough draft of my concert review that will run in the upcoming edition of CL.
Photo of Steve Connelly by Shanna Gillette.
AMERICANA FEST â07
The Urbane Cowboys/The Diviners/Hangtown/Steve Connelly and the Lesser Gods/Rebekah Pulley and the Reluctant Prophets/The Human Condition/Truckstop Coffee/Holidaysburg/Have Gun Will Travel/Experimental Pilot/Jukebox Graduate/Memphis Train Union, Sat., July 7, Skipperâs Smokehouse, Tampa.
WMNFâs second annual Americana Fest resulted in another success â albeit one that left room for improvement. Skipperâs Smokehouse proved the ideal venue to hold Saturdayâs nine-hour concert, and during my stay there from 5 to 10:30 p.m., the area under the sprawling oaks remained relatively full. The attentive, if often sedate, crowd ranged from baby boomers to new parents and students.
Credit WMNF for the strong turnout. Itâs nice to see the radio station get behind an event featuring exclusively local acts (12 total) performing mostly original songs. After all, WMNF has drawn criticism in the past for not promoting homegrown talent. It took a while for Bay area bands to get their own stage at Tropical Heatwave, and when âMNF herds locals to do Dylan, Stones or Zep tunes at one of its tribute shows, itâs great for the fans (and the stationâs coffers) but does little to help the bands build a lasting connection with prospective fans.
That said, some of the most memorable moments Saturday were the cover tunes. Have Gun Will Travel, the best new twang band to hit the Bay area scene in years, homered with a fiddle and steel rendition of Loudon Wainwrightâs âKings and Queens.â The Human Condition fared equally well with a spirited reading of the Woody-Guthrie-by-way-of-Wilco rocker âCalifornia Stars.â And Steve Connelly crushed âem with an encore of Dylanâs âLike a Rolling Stone,â which capped what was far and away the most potent set I witnessed Saturday.