Americana International 2002
Americana International
Chris Jackson
The man himself Chris
Danny almost onstage.
Danny & Nick Willet
In the bar afterwards
Dedicated fans
rain what rain?
Cold ?? not at all
All enquiries
[email protected]
For a number of years now Chris and Bev Jackson have told us about their Americana, told us everything that happens and what a good time everyone has! Year after year they invited us along, and every time we had to refuse, because we had other commitments! This year they just wouldn't take no for an answer, so early on Thursday, July 4th we were on our way! With us were Jim Kerr, who is the Secretary of the Double 'K' CMC, which unfortunately has ceased to exist, in Dumfries and also the Festival they run every year in May. Also along was Iain Dobie, our very own webmaster and also a committee member of the Dumfries Festival! Iain had offered to drive, so my holiday started as soon as we dropped our car off at Iain's house in Dumfries! (Thanks a lot Iain, it was appreciated very much!)

After a good journey we had a short rest, a shower and we set out to the showground, found it quite easy! We were greeted by Bev and her daughter Libby (sorry I didn't know you right away, Libby, but its been a couple of years since you were in Scotland!)…and Bev, considering what you have been through you are looking great. Our love and prayers are with you, hurry up and get well - October is not that far away!

As this was our first visit, it took a little while to find our bearings, we settled into the Cedric Ford Pavilion, were Toni Catlin started the night. She is a singer/songwriter from Vermont, but is now settled in Nashville. She has a lovely voice and I am sure we'll hear more about her
We made our across to the Lady Eastwood Pavilion to see Alan Becks, who gave a great Buddy Holly Tribute. A lot of the lovely American cars had already arrived and we were in awe of what we saw while walking between the venues! On our return to the Cedric Angel Montgomerie was doing his Willie Nelson Tribute and Thomas Lavelle was Jerry Lee Lewis, both did a really great job, but as I am not a fan of either, it didn't do a lot for me, but the crowds enjoyed them.

We had intended to return to the other venue to hear Talon do their Eagles tribute, but by then the heavens had opened and we also had met up with friends Hannah Valize and Tom, so we stayed where we were and had a very pleasant evening indeed! Seeing it was the 4th July, the fireworks were appreciated very much - despite a slight hic-up due to the weather! A great night - a great start to the week-end!

Friday morning dawned and it was chucking it down, we thought we'd have to swim there! After making a dash for it we got to the showground while the rain was taking a break, but unfortunately the news weren't good, it started to rain again and just wouldn't halt and eventually Chris Jackson had to take the decision to close the main stage and move the show inside to the Lady Eastwood Pavilion. It was a good alternative and we soon settled into our new chairs and enjoyed a brilliant afternoon of good music! Not strictly Country, but that is not what this Festival is all about! This is about good music, entertainment, friendship, cars, trucks, motorbikes and fun! Something for everyone!
'Country Cattin', Hi Voltage and old friends 'The Landons' put on a great show. We were especially impressed with 'Hi Voltage', even more so when we found out they were from Edinburgh!
Luckily the weather cleared for the evening session and it was back to the main stage outside!…..but….may be the rain had stopped and was only threatening, but boy was it cold with an icy wind! July? This was more like January in the arctic, but we stayed - everyone stayed and we were treated to one of the best nights ever!
First it was the 'Smokey Mountain Boys'. Now I know I must be the only person on this planet who had never seen them and I was really looking forward to it, but to be brutally honest, I was disappointed. I liked their material, but I felt there was absolutely no enthusiasm, I felt they didn't really want to be there, of course that can't be, but that was the way they came over to me. We are looking forward to seeing them again somewhere, I am sure that impression was wrong!…or was it?
It has been a good couple of years since we saw 'Lazy Dog', still as good as ever! Then on came the mighty 'Quill'. I had earlier been introduced to Joy, the lead-singer - what a lovely lady she is! But you want to see her on that stage now - wow! She just seemed to take over or the music took over her - whatever! The whole set was magic, lively and kept everyone warm! Her 6-piece band plus 2 guest-players followed her every move. What a great band - what a finish to our first day at Americana!

Saturday we woke to lovely sunshine, but by the time we were ready to go, it was raining again. Would it be another wet day? As if by magic, by the time we got to the showground the sun was shining and burning a hole in us! We settled down and the suntan lotion went on …yes, we came prepared!…and the show started! 'Debbie Lee' started the day and her strong voice worked well with her backing band, which turned out to be the Landons. She sang JoDee Messina, Terri Clark and Reba McEntyre songs. We were well impressed with her version of Martina McBride's 'Independence Day'
'Lynette Morgan and the Blackwater Valley Boys' was new to me, but they had everyone mesmerized very quickly, listening to songs from Maddox Brothers & Rose , Kitty Wells.
Quite an experience and very enjoyable!

Unfortunately the next band has never been my taste, but 'Kenny Johnson & Northwind' certainly brought out his fans and gave them exactly what they wanted. The bad news for them also came when he announced that he would be retiring at the end of the year. I am sure a lot of his fans will miss him.
Lynette Morgan
At last it was the turn of the act we had waited for, singer/songwriter Paul Overstreet took the stage and wow, did he leave an impression on us! This writer of so many lovely songs gave us the most beautiful version of his 'When You Say Nothing At All'. Many more of his songs followed, all accompanied with lovely stories of when, where and how that particular song was written. It was absolutely magic and was over far too quickly! Paul was born in Antioch/Mississippi, he was on-time husband of Dolly Parton's sister Freida. He wrote 'Same Ole Me' for George Jones in 1982 and 2 CMA 'Songs Of The Year' were written by him. In 1986 it was 'On The Other Hand' and in 1987 it was 'Forever and Ever Amen', both songs were recorded by Randy Travis and became major hits!

Next came Nick Willett…Nick comes from Chicago and sure is going to be a big star. His musical style is a mixture of Rock 'n Roll, Gospel, Country and Rhythm and Blues from his father' s era. He has been compared to Elvis, but he really is his own man. He sings quite a few Elvis songs, making them his own, moving about the stage like a smooth panther! An absolutely first class performance from a first class artist and a joy to watch and listen! Sadly it was marred by the hundreds of morons, who came forward from the back of the arena and decided to stand in front of the people seated in front of the stage, therefore spoiling it for a few hundred people! A little bit of consideration for other people would not have been out of place!

Unfortunately one of our favourite bands, The Fever, was playing on Stage 2 the same time Nick was on, so I just had to go and listen for a while - what a great set they played! All their favourites: Kickin' the Dust; The Thunder Rolls etc. etc. Magic! I for one would have loved to have seen them on the main stage. Rod MacLane,
their lead-singer must have one of the best Country voices on the scene at the momentt - his Chris LeDoux songs are awesome!

Gail Davies, born in Oklahoma, is an act I have wanted to see and hear for years, and now was our chance! Everything that has been said about this lady is true - and more! She was absolutely brilliant! Gail has toured with major acts like George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Carl Perkins, Conway Twitty, Glen Campbell and many more. Her easy relaxed performance and little stories coupled with her lovely voice and beautiful songs, backed by some great musicians made this one of the highlights of the week-end! Incidentally Gail has put together and produced a Webb Pierce Tribute album. A lot of big names can be heard here, i.e. Marty Stewart,………..

We had patiently waited for Michael Ballew and his band, from Texas - and we love the Texas style of Country - and he didn't disappoint! Austin based Michael did his apprenticeship around the local Honky Tonks and even worked the rock band circuit, before settling down to his songwriting and playing the music he loves! Michael and his 'Damn Good Texas Band' treated us to a set of pure traditional Country Music, mostly songs written by him! His set just seemed to fly past, and all we can say is: When will he be back?
This brought the second full day to an end, what can I say, this must be a dream, sitting in glorious sunshine among friends, having a few drinks …and…listening to good Country Music…what more can a body ask for?!!

Sunday morning came and it was back to the Showground, lovely weather again! It was making up for the bad start of the week-end!
First we were treated to a great Gospel show with Paul Overstreet, he had even brought in some of the local school children who happily sung along with him! It finished far too quick, and then it was the turn of 'Ian Calford and the Brakemen'. Good sound, Johnny Cash sound-a-like with quite a few Johnny Cash songs i.e. 'Walk The Line' and 'Folsom Prison'! A very good set, but I must be honest, I got a little bored, it all was a bit 'samish'!
Then came '8-Seconds', a 'break-away' from 'Texas Nightlife', if you can call it that! Myran Cox, the only American in the band and in the American Forces stationed in this country, told us that '8 Seconds' comes from the time a usual bull-ride lasts! I liked his voice and the sound of this band a lot, but my goodness, did they have problems. Myran burst 4 strings on his steel guitar, then another one on his guitar, and there seemed to be a problem with communication between the band members. Myran sang a lovely version of 'The Dance' and dedicated this to Bev Jackson, wishing her a speedy recovery after her lengthy serious illness, and thanking her and Chris for their friendship shown to him during his stay in England. He told everyone that he had a posting to Singapore and that this gig was in fact their very last gig!
RimshotsThe long-a-waited Rimshots took the place by storm, the crowd - and us - just loved them! Their music covers a wide range of songs and the stand-up bass and steel guitar round the sound off nicely. I was especially impressed by their version of the 'Cattle Call'. Can't wait 'till the Dumfries Festival next May when we'll see them again!

dez waltersI am afraid we are a little bit biased for the next act, the Dez Walters Band. Dez and the band and us have been friends for about 15 years, and I also run the band's Fanclub. We wondered what Dez and the boys would do with that huge stage …it was magic. I know - I know - I can't see past them, but everyone else who was there felt the same! Dez's version of 'Where Were You When The World Stood Still' must be one of the best - next to Alan Jackson of course!!

Then on came BR5-49, we had waited a long time to see this rockabilly band, never having managed to catch them on any of their trips to Britain, and as expected, we were well impressed! I had often wondered were their name came from. Well it came from Junior Samples' used car lot on the hit television show 'Hee Haw'. When they started out, like loads of other bands, they had a hard time, playing for tips in Nashville. Luckily Arista executives picked them up and made them what they are of the most popular bands in the USA, Australia and of course in Europe! They absolutely had the place jumping and treated the audience to all their hits, with a bit of humorous chatter thrown in. Then came 'There Stands The Glass', which is on the Webb Pierce Tribute album, which has been put together by Gail Davies and to everyone's delight she came out to join the band for this song, especially since her son Chris Scruggs was part of the band.

Chris Jackson, the organizer, took the stage and told everyone that the week-end had been a great success and that next year's event would go ahead on July 10th to 13th 2003. He told everyone that Bev was making a good recovery from her recent serious illness, but that she still had a long way to go! Then he thanked everyone for their good wishes on Bev's behalf! I must say it really was amazing how well everything run after all the family had been through over the recent months, full marks to their sons and daughters and all the other helpers. I was especially impressed with the great facilities, which normally have long queues on an event like this, but not once did anybody have to wait. Also the security was great, you always knew they were there, never 'in your face', but making you feel safe!
Then, before we knew it - the last band of the week-end was on stage - but what a band, no less than Glasgow born Lonnie Donegan. Some people voiced their concern whether 71-year old Lonnie still 'had what it takes', the place was mobbed - people standing shoulder to shoulder waiting to be entertained - and they were! Lonnie played an energetic set and received 3 encores! What a finish to a wonderful weekend!

So it was over - a great big 'Thank you' goes to Chris and Bev once again for not taking no for an answer! We had a ball! On the way out Bev asked us if we'd be back next year - you better believe it, friend!
© 2004 Country Music & Dance Scotland