Smokey & The Mirror are husband and wife duo Bryan and Bernice Hembree, originally members of folk/bluegrass trio 3 Penny Acre.
When you’re an Australian, planning a music month in the USA revolves around researching festival locations, festival line-ups, other live shows and logistics. Of course, basing decisions on these things revolves around performers with which you are familiar and others with a reputation that you would like to see first hand.
USA Music Tour 2015 Day 11
Jacksonville Florida 31 August
The sixth fayettevilleroots festival is over. In reviewing the past three days, I can’t recall having such an easy and joyful festival experience. I have found that it usually takes a second or third go at such an event to really find your feet and make the most of the experience. But not at Fayetteville Arkansas, where it has been as easy as pie. Easily walking just about everywhere.
I’ll be doing a consolidated story of the whole deal when circumstances allow. In the interim, here are some of the pluses I observed:
– the line-up was of a tremendously high quality and diversity
– the cost of the VIP tickets quite reasonable
– a single venue and stage on offer, so no hard choices or the need to move around
– the venue was in the middle of the town, seated, air-conditioned and within easy walking distance of side-show locations (George’s Majestic Lounge, the Chancellor Hotel and the Public Library)
– still in its early stages, the festival is relatively small, meaning there’s access to every event with no long lines (we managed first and second row seats every day)
– the entirely free pre-festival show at Garner Park was delightful
– the locals were incredibly friendly and helpful.
But, now time to move on.
A late night and early morning with the three of us all packed by the time the cab arrived at 8.45am.
There is a small airport south of Fayetteville, but the place to get planes is North West Arkansas Regional Airport which is forty minutes away, literally in the middle of nowhere. Now, according to our friendly cab driver, Walmart which has its national HQ in nearby Bentonville, insisted that the airport be in Benton County.
The airport is new, easy to get around and small. Our first Delta flight of the day is on our smallest plane yet, a fifty seater.
Into Atlanta on time, but there were delays for our second leg to Jacksonville Florida. Change of departure terminal, a replacement aircraft, and the longest boarding process I can remember. But, finally, we got there. Just as important, our bags followed us.
At Jacksonville, it was pouring as we arrived, but quickly stopped. The Alamo car rental counter was inside and we were in our Passat pretty quickly. The most exciting aspect is that the car has a satellite radio, so Sirius’ Outlaw Country is going to be our friend for the next eight days.
We were at our humble lodgings in Murray Hill for a bag drop off and found a bustling pizza place for a late meal for tired travellers.
Tomorrow will be an exploration of Jacksonville, a place entirely new for all three of us.
USA Music Tour 2015 Day 10
First up, a big thanks to Jim Jacob for his incredible photos of the festival and Fayetteville generally. I could do a story on paint drying and he could make it look good.
A late start to the day was necessary. Yesterday’s musical superlatives still ringing in my ears (can superlatives make a sound?) and it was a slow prep for the day.
USA Music Tour 2015 Day 9
On the way to the festival, some serious discussion underway.
Cory Branan provides anthemic songs, magnetic choruses, wry and sharp lyrical observations and dominant guitar work. Sometimes the world-weariness and maturity leaps out. His latest album The No-Hit Wonder is gripping and was one of my top twenty albums of 2014. The album is both a celebration of the undefeated underdogs of the world and a coming to terms with the cards life has dealt you. And it’s a lot of fun. I saw him perform at the Americana Festival last year – a somewhat ramshackle set structure (most of the songs were based on crowd requests), flashing smile, sharp humour and a large stage presence. Continue reading
Sara and Sean Watkins, Fiona Apple, Benmont Tench, Don Heffington, Greg Leisz and Sebastian Steinberg
to release an album, due August 7 2015.