Emmylou Harris, Abigail Washburn, Band of Heathens, Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison – Americana Association Showcase – SXSW, TX

The perpetually popular and star-studded Americana Association showcase at Antone’s featured a wide range of musical treats from local up-and-comers to the queen of the genre.

Austin-born and with a new record, The Band of Heathens brought their country rock to open the evening. The three frontmen, Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist channeled the likes of Dylan and Levon Helm in sharing select tracks from Top Hat Crown & the Clapmaster’s Son including “Medicine” and “Polaroid.”

Self-described “Banjo-pickin’ Girl” Abigail Washburn, known for melding the sounds of Appalachia and traditional music from around the globe has a brand new project with Kai Welch. Along with former Uncle Earl member Rayna Gellert (fiddle), Jaime Dick (drums) and Jon Estes (pedal steel and upright bass) she demonstrated the power of original tunes with an old-time feel from City of Refuge.

Another Austin singer-songwriter, Kelly Willis and her husband, Bruce Robison, tried out their new act as a duo, promising harmonies and a new album.

Finally, the evening’s headliner and highlight, Emmylou Harris graced the stage with a full preview of Hard Bargain which will be released April 26 on the Nonesuch label. Instead of interpreting others songs, 11 of the tracks were written by Emmylou – the other two by Ron Sexsmith (the title track) and producer Jay Joyce. Between the slightly goofy (“Big Black Dog”) and the incredibly touching (“Darling Kate” penned for Kate McGarrigle, who passed away last year) was the autobiographical account of her relationship with Gram Parsons called “The Road.”

Dallas-based powerhouse, The Old 97’s closed out the night.

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Photos by Nichole Wagner

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