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Rodney Crowell

Americana Conference (continued)

There were a number of good performances at the Awards, though for my money Kathleen Edwards stole the show hands down (see our interview with her). I didn't think the sound company had Rodney Crowell's band captured anywhere near as well as they sounded the night before at the Mercy Lounge--that was especially unfortunate because Rodney's act is really smokin right now. They kicked ass at the Mercy Lounge. That show was ably opened by The Mary Janes from Indiana, and Thad Cockrell, who rocked out big time. (Unfortunately, Buddy Miller had to cancel his performance because of a recent death in the family. Our prayers and condolences go out to Buddy and Julie.)

There was a lot of anticipation in the air as Rodney's band took the stage. Everybody's calling Fate's Right Hand the album of his career.

What's really significant to me is the current partnership between Rodney and Will Kimbrough, his current guitarist and singer. Their vibe and performance was so entwined, it was truly striking. Rodney mentioned in a stirring duo interview/performance on Saturday afternoon how stymied he'd felt when his longtime guitarist Steuart Smith was rock starred away into The Eagles. He's got a helluva partner now, as Kimbrough also sings like a bird, and has all the presence of a classic rocker on stage.

I don't have my program anymore, and I'm trying to piece together days and nights so continuous that they are now a musical blur. What is sharp, however, are the memories of the individual performances. The Station Inn shows on Friday and Saturday nights were my favorite. Front row, shooting pictures on my little digital.

The standouts for me among the women were Adrienne Young (whose Plow to the End of the Row is reviewed in this issue) and Mindy Smith, who sings the first single, "Jolene," on the Dolly Parton tribute CD, and whose debut on Vanguard Records is only months away. Malcolm Holcombe (his CD is also reviewed) put on an incendiary performance, and Darrell Scott brought it all together at the end.