While the Ryman Auditorium was playing host to this year’s Americana Awards last night (September 14), another group of roots musicians was striking up their bows and tuning their banjos for an action-packed night across town at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl. The line-up boasted a host of Nashville’s best and brightest, up-and-comers and famous faces alike.
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Anthony da Costa’s FOMO party
Starting off the night was the third installment of singer-songwriter Anthony da Costa’s FOMO party—a showcase of the wide breadth that is Americana.
Backing all of the excitement was the FOMO house band—da Costa, Jess Nolan, Jason Burger, and Will Honaker. As almost all of da Costa’s special guests remarked as they finished their sets, the house band quickly molded to whoever was at the microphone bolstering the performances to new levels.
First up to bat, sans da Costa’s house musicians, was the Kyle Tuttle band, a classic trio of Kyle Tuttle on banjo, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes on fiddle, and Geoff Saunders on bass. Tuttle brought up what the line-up made very clear—that Americana is sort of whatever each individual artist wants to make it. Though Tuttle and his band were perhaps the most old-time Appalachian of the performers, their successors encompassed everything from rock, folk, indie, and maybe even a little air of pop.
Tuttle, Keith-Hynes, and Saunders played a few songs masterfully, including covers of both Willie Nelson’s “Red Headed Stranger” (the first Nelson appearance of the night) and John Prine’s “Please Don’t Bury Me,” before exiting the stage with the audience primed for more.
Next, da Costa and the rest of the FOMO house band took the stage for the first of a few sets scattered across the night. They swapped Tuttle’s lively folk for an anthemic electric number with da Costa on lead guitar. Along with delivering songs from his latest album, I Should Call My Mother, da Costa also juggled emcee duties which he took in stride thanks to an onslaught of dry wit.
Jess Nolan was also given the stage to play songs from an upcoming project that she made at da Costa’s studio. Her lulling voice rang out in the venue changing the pace yet again but nevertheless leaving an enthused audience in her wake.
After this set, things really got rolling. The special guests came out one by one and played a few numbers before the next was brought up to do the same. This left the show fast-paced and endlessly exciting. The three hours the showcase was onstage, flew by with the audience distracted by how much fun they were having.
Elsewhere in the night were amped-up performances by Josie Dunne and Rainbow Girls. Both the singer and the power trio took things in a poppier vein but nevertheless found a comfortable home amongst the top performers of the night.
To represent the singer-songwriter pack, Nicki Bluhm, Dylan LeBlanc, Sunny War, Bre Kennedy, Courtney Marie Andrews, and Caroline Spence all delivered a number of folk gems that ranged from sultry blues to somber piano ballads.
Da Costa truly took away any fear of missing out on the festivities at the Americana Awards and instead delivered his own envy-inducing line-up for the third year running. As he quipped during the show, he’s signed up to do the FOMO party 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 wrapped things up Milauwkee-based duo Dead Horses took the stage for their penultimate set. The duo, Sarah Vos and bassist Daniel Wolff, live in the broodier side of folk with lyrics that are deeply candid and take on hard truths.
They live true to that sentiment across 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-burning full of spacey guitar lines and a waltzing drum beat. Vos’ vocals shined on that number as she sang my minds been so busy / and I can get so angry / sometimes it really strikes me. Their entire set kept things relatively subdued and hypnotizing much like their records suggest.
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real
The headliners for the evening, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, brought the crowd to new heights as their frontman walked out on stage. Things were nearly five hours on at this point, and though each of the performers was welcomed with open arms by the crowd and were impressive in their own rights, Nelson was the man of the hour.
Launching into the first number, Nelson opted to open the show with “Sticks and Stones,” which is a familiar face in his live shows. Imbued with the inborn Nelson spirit, he took to the front of the stage for a wiry guitar line to really get the crowd going.
Next, he jumped right into “Fool Me Once,” a cut from his and his band’s 2017 self-titled album. Similar in pace and tone the song kept the energy up for the wry and anthemic “Four Letter Word” that came after.
While a lot of the set, and Nelson’s songs in general, tend to stay on the floor-filling side, he does have a few stunners that fall under the ballad category. He first slowed things down with “Just Outside of Austin” before taking that energy into “Forget About Georgia.” By the crowd’s reaction, it was clear the latter was a fan favorite.
Nelson and Promise of the Real were more than worth the wait as they rounded out what was a stellar evening of Americana at Brooklyn Bowl.
(Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association )