SummerTyne Americana Festival started off rather soggy this year as the heavens opened chasing everyone, artists and fans, inside. The indoor Concourse stage which wasn’t supposed to kick off until 6pm hosted the artists that should have been on the Jumping Hot Stage situated outside. It was a testament to the great organisational skills of the staff at Sage who got everything swiftly reorganised and running smoothly without much, if any, delay to the schedule. There was a large crowd throughout the day and a number of acts stood out for me. The Gem Andrews Band, a local group, impressed me with their arrangement and use of harmonies (and their western shirts were quite nice too!) Charley Crockett performed at the welcome reception and I enjoyed the Texas born singer-songwriter’s songs, he performed later on at Sage 2 as well. One of the highlights of the day though took to the concourse stage at 6pm - The Wandering Hearts. This band has been talked about a lot lately and with good reason, their on stage chemistry, the beautiful harmonies and foot stomping Country Pop ballads is enough to win any crowd over. They played a lot of songs off their debut album including my favourite, Devil which they closed with.
Then there were tough choices to be made Graham Nash supported by Shawn Colvin or Darrel Higham and the Enforcers with support from Charley Crockett. I opted for Graham Nash and I’m glad I did! I quite ignorantly knew very little about Shawn Colvin prior to her being announced on the line up but listening to her lyrics was like listening to a very detailed sad story… but in a good way. She captivated the audience from the start and it was so silent you could hear a pin drop as the crowd listened intently. She didn’t speak much between songs but when she did she had the audience chuckling away particularly when she was telling the story of performing her Grammy award winning hit Sunny Came Home with Taylor Swift in Austin Texas and how Taylor asked her to enter on a Riser which Shawn had never done before, she practically pulled a muscle practicing standing up on it.
Graham Nash needed about two days not two hours to get through his catalogue of songs. He had a good stage presence, he addressed the audience very well throughout the show as he set up each new song with the stories he told. After a successful career in The Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash and his own solo project, Graham had an array of eclectic songs and stories about his fellow musicians. Some highlights for me in his set were Immigration Man - the story behind that had the audience in uproar - Military Madness and Our House which saw much of the audience singing along to. I was astounded by the level of musicianship particularly in Wind on the Water the collective sound of the piano, slide on the guitar, and the hammond B3 along with those harmonies was quite beautiful. The lighting effects of the candles on the stage as well really added to the atmosphere of that song. It was the highlight of the night for me. It came as no surprise when a standing ovation ensued and the crowd demanded one more song. As mentioned, the guitarist and organist were fantastic musicians, the guitarist Shane Fontayne was Bruce Springsteen’s lead guitarist back in the 90’s to name just one legend he’s played for.
We’re ready for day 2 with the first big decision of the day looming… what are we going to eat? With the different food vans representing cuisines from all over the World you’ll be spoilt for choice over the weekend! You can find me at the mac n cheese stand!