NEWS: SummerTyne Americana Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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From humble beginnings on Spillers Quay in 2006 to the addition of the Americana tag in 2010, SummerTyne has grown into the UK’s premier celebration of American roots music. The festival, held over three days at The Sage Gateshead, brings together legendary artists and up and coming new faces from around the world for a weekend of Americana which this year includes some exclusive UK only shows.  Spread across both stages inside the Sage and on the concourse outside, this year’s festival promises to be the most successful yet.

Heading up Sage One are rising UK country stars The Shires, who return to SummerTyne with special guest and Grand Ole Oprey veteran, American country singer Sarah Darling.  Winner of the GRAMMY for best Americana Album, Stax legend William Bell (You Don’t Miss Your Water, Private Number) and band perform a UK exclusive, supported by the twelve-piece Stax Academy Revue and in another one-off show, award-winning singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman will perform with special guest Callaghan and the SummerTyne Strings. Beth has penned songs for Bonnie Raitt, Emylou Harris, Neil Diamond and Faith Hill amongst others showing a musical diversity which also permeates her own performances while Callaghan’s sweet and soaring voice has seen her tour across 46 states.

One year on from the death of Merle Haggard, SummerTyne welcomes Merle Haggard’s Strangers featuring the great man’s sons Ben and Noel alongside their father’s long-standing backing band. Main support comes from Ashley Campbell, daughter of country superstar Glen. Ashley has played banjo for her father and appeared at last year’s Country to Country Festival at the O2 in London.

The line-up in Sage Two includes Kentucky native and Pistol Annie member Angaleena Presley (in support of new album Wrangled) and singer/songwriter and Americana legend Chuck Prophet. Californian Prophet first came to prominence with the desert rock group Green On Red before showcasing his unique guitar style around the world with his five-piece band which also includes his wife and singer/keyboardist Stephanie Finch. In support, there are two superb double bills, the first featuring two of the finest female blues voices from either side of the Atlantic, Jo Harman and Lisa Mills, while the godfather of the Nashville scene Jim Lauderdale appears alongside Californian rising star Sam Outlaw. Outlaw’s country music refashioned with a Southern California vibe (“SoCal country”) and honky-tonk twist has seen new album Tenderheart reach number three in the UK country chart.

Also interesting, and a chance to relax away from the main stages, is the programme for the SummerTyne Lounge.  There’s a chance to hear one of the most exciting and evocative voices on the international Americana scene, New Zealand born Marlon Williams. With his backing band The Yarra Benders they blend folk, country, bluegrass and blues, and are set to open two shows for Bruce Springsteen later in the summer so be sure to catch them here first.  Hotly tipped Jesca Hoop (Californian-born, Manchester-based) will play a diverse set with her band that has been described by Tom Waits no less as “like a four-sided coin. She is an old soul, like a black pearl, a good witch or a red moon. Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night”. Quite. Support is from up and coming UK act Worry Dolls, while from Newcastle via Massachussets, Phil & Cath Tyler bring their brand of folk back to the region with guest collaborator Tim Eriksen.

The hugely popular free Jumpin’ Hot Stage returns for 2017 with BBC Radio Newcastle’s Mr Drayton as MC and not to mention our very own Stagger Lee Fisher on DJ duties, who will be providing tunes between the bands on the outdoor stage on Saturday and Sunday. Expect some choice cuts from Fisher’s extensive musical repertoire.  Fisher told me of his involvement, “I’ve been lucky enough to DJ on the Jumpin’ Hot Stage for a few years now and it’s one of my favourite gigs of the year – the atmosphere, the size of the crowd, the often brilliant music. The whole event attracts some great acts but the highlights are often people Shippy [Jumpin’ Hot Club founder Graham] has booked to play outside – I’m thinking people like Davina & The Vagabonds, The Pine Hill Haints and Yola Carter. Despite always claiming he’s winging it, Shippy pulls something special out of the bag every year. It’s genuinely a privilege to be involved.”

The stunning riverside setting provides a perfect backdrop for audiences to kick back and enjoy a sizzling combo of country, blues, folk, rockabilly, bluegrass and soul with headline sets from Earl Thomas & Band and the Savoy Family Cajun Band.  The outdoor stage has lots more special guests from the US and UK including Rhona Dalling, Buffalo Skinners, Paul Handyside Trio, The King Bees, Archie Brown & The Prisoners of Fender, Big Ray & the Hipthrusters, Dexeter, Fargo Railroad Company, Vera Van Heeringen Trio, Howlin’ Ric and the Rocketeers, Amythyst Kiah, Bradley Creswick Western Swing Sinfonia, Robert Vincent Band, Errol Linton Blues Band, Jonathan Terrell and High Plains Jamboree.

There are artists still to announce for the free Concourse Stage and there will be the usual film and talk programme with Let Freedom Sing and Miss Sharon Jones! among the film highlights. There will also be the usual range of street food traders, and with so much American inspired goodness going on, we’ll certainly be in need of some hot wings and a beer or two.

SummerTyne Americana Festival takes place from Friday 21st – Sunday 23rd July at The Sage Gateshead.

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