As the Ryman Auditorium hosted this year’s Americana Awards last night (September 14), another group of roots musicians bowed their bows and tuned their banjos for an action-packed night across town at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl. The lineup included a host of Nashville’s best and brightest, newcomers and famous faces.
Anthony da Costa’s FOMO party
The third installment of singer-songwriter Anthony da Costa’s FOMO party kicked off the night, a showcase of the vast expanse of Americana.
Supporting all the excitement was house band FOMO – da Costa, Jess Nolan, Jason Burger and Will Honaker. As almost all of da Costa’s special guests remarked at the end of their sets, the house band quickly adapted to whoever was on the mic, boosting the performances to new levels.
The Kyle Tuttle Band, a classic trio of Kyle Tuttle on banjo, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes on fiddle and Geoff Saunders on bass, were the first to beat, sans da Costa’s house musicians. Tuttle touched on what the line-up made very clear – that Americana is kind of what each individual artist wants to be. Although Tuttle and his band may be the oldest artists in Appalachia, their successors encompassed everything from rock, folk, indie and maybe even a little pop.
Tuttle, Keith-Hynes and Saunders played a few songs brilliantly, including covers of Willie Nelson’s “Red Headed Stranger” (Nelson’s first appearance of the evening) and John Prine’s “Please Don’t Bury Me”. , before leaving the stage. with the audience primed for more.
Afterwards, da Costa and the rest of house band FOMO took to the stage for the first of a few sets scattered throughout the night. They swapped Tuttle’s driving folk for an electric hymn number with da Costa on lead guitar. In addition to delivering songs from his latest album, I should call my motherda Costa also juggled emcee duties which he took on head on thanks to an onslaught of dry wit.
Jess Nolan also got the stage to perform songs from an upcoming project she did at da Costa’s studio. Her soothing voice echoed through the hall, once again changing the tempo but nonetheless leaving an enthusiastic audience in its wake.
After this set, things really started. The special guests came out one by one and played a few numbers before the next one was brought in to do the same. This left the show fast-paced and endlessly exciting. The three hours the showcase spent on stage flew by with the audience distracted by the fun they were having.
Elsewhere on the night, Josie Dunne and Rainbow Girls gave amplified performances. The singer and the power trio took things in a more pop vein, but nonetheless found a comfortable home among the night’s top performers.
To represent the group of singer-songwriters, Nicki Bluhm, Dylan LeBlanc, Sunny War, Bre Kennedy, Courtney Marie Andrews and Caroline Spence all delivered a number of folk gems ranging from sultry blues to dark piano ballads.
Da Costa has truly eliminated any fear of missing out on the Americana Awards festivities and instead delivered his own envy-inducing line-up for the third year in a row. As he joked during the show, he’s signed up to party FOMO for the next 50 years, so you’ll have plenty of time to catch the next one if you missed out this year.
After da Costa finished, Milauwkee-based duo Dead Horses took the stage for their penultimate set. The duo, Sarah Vos and bassist Daniel Wolff, live on the darker side of folk with lyrics that are deeply candid and take on the hard truths.
They live up to that sentiment faithfully through the set list with tracks like “Ok, Kid”, “On and On” and a track named after a street in their hometown, “Brady Street”. The latter was a personal favorite. It’s a slow burn full of spacey guitar lines and a waltzing drum beat. Vos’ voice shone on this number as she sang my mind has been so busy / and i can be so angry / sometimes it really hits me. Their whole set kept things relatively subdued and mesmerizing, just like their records suggest.
Lukas Nelson and The Promise of Reality
The night’s headliners Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real took the crowd to new heights when their frontman took the stage. Things were nearly five hours long at this point, and while each of the performers were welcomed with open arms by the crowd and were impressive in their own right, Nelson was the man of the hour.
Launching into the first issue, Nelson opted to open the show with “Sticks and Stones,” which is a familiar face on his live shows. Imbued with Nelson’s innate spirit, he took center stage for an edgy guitar line to really get the crowd moving.
Then he jumped straight into “Fool Me Once,” a cut from his 2017 self-titled album and his band. Similar in rhythm and tone, the song saved the energy for the tongue-in-cheek “Four Letter Word” and anthemic that followed.
Although much of the set, and Nelson’s songs in general, tend to stay on the ground-filling side, it does have a few dizzinesses that fall into the ballad category. He first slowed things down with “Just Outside of Austin” before taking on that energy in “Forget About Georgia.” By the crowd reaction, it was clear that the latter was a fan favorite.
Nelson and Promise of the Real were more than worth the wait as they capped off a stellar night of Americana at the Brooklyn Bowl.
(Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association)