One of the first people I interviewd for GratefulWeb was Michael O'Neill, a former bandmate and sometime collaborator with Bob Weir. (Read our talk here). I returned from Muddy Roots to find Nashville gearing up for the AMA and Mr. O'Neill in town for the event.
Mike was hosting a pre-festival songwriters showcase at 3rd and Lindsley with Southern Crossroads Music. Crossroads, a production and publishing company, is spearheaded by Steve McMellon, who has published Sheryl Crow, Creed and represented work by Emmylou Harris, Stevie Ray Vaughn and a host of other truly stellar talents. Of course, the singer/songwriters who performed last night were amazing.
The show featured Bobby Terry, who impressively plays every instrument on his records and who, in addition to his songwriting has also worked with leading artists like Willie Nelson as a guitarist. An impressive performace was delivered by Jabe Beyer, who, in addition to winning the BMI Music Maker Songwriting competition has received two Boston Music Awards.
The performace by Nashvilles' Don Gallardo, who the Nashville Scene described as 'Country Rock with brains' was one of my favorites of the night. His two albums, 'When Daylight Whispers Darling' and 'The Art of Troublesome Times', without question features some of the best songwriting I've heard.
The evening ended with a strong finale, Mike himself, a performer with a Waylon-esque presence and a poets lyrics that echo Kristofferson and Van Zandt. Accompaied only by his guitar and Jabe. The forthright sparseness of the duo set an even more striking tone than the bands or the full stage of performers that opened the event had. His signature song, 'Who's Bad Now', left no one in the audience with the question unanswered.
More from the Americana Fest to come and a full feature to follow!