The Americana season at Sage Gateshead kicks off on Friday 15 January with . A magnetic and hugely confident live performer on vocals, guitar and piano, Griffin has her roots in gospel and has perfected a unique stripped down folk-rock-country sound. From now until 22 July when SummerTyne Americana Festival rolls into town there are some amazing gigs to enjoy including Bonnie Raitt, The Lone Bellow, Tim O’Brien, Giant Sand & Jason Lytle and Jess and the Bandits. There is also an interesting collaboration between writer Mark Billingham and duo My Darling Clementine, The Other Half and Stella Parton, sister of superstar Dolly Parton, brings an insight into their childhood.
Patty Griffin’s songs have been recorded by artists including Dixie Chicks, Linda Ronstadt and Bette Midler and she has collaborated with amongst others, Solomon Burke and Robert Plant’s Band of Joy. Her latest and 10th album, Servant of Love (read the Folk Radio UK review here) digs deep into folk and roots traditions, weaving an elemental spell out of the stuff of life. Support comes in the form of Minnesota-born Frankie Lee whose album American Dreamer (read our review here) features his nasal southern drawl, honest lyrics, simple melodies and blue-collar melancholy. Griffin performs with her touring band in the intimate setting of Sage Two, making this is one gig any Americana music fan needs to catch.
On Sunday 24 January indie-folk trio The Lone Bellow bring their mix of folk, sincerity, harmony, gospel fervour to Sage Two (read our exclusive interview with them at Cambridge Folk Festival). Their self-titled debut in January 2013 established them as one of the boldest new acts in the Americana movement and their second album Then Came the Morning is produced by The National guitarist Aaron Dessner who has been at the helm for albums by LA indie-rock group Local Natives and New York singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten. Support is from Joseph a bewitching band of three sisters from the beautiful Pacific Northwest – expect honest words and perfect harmonies.
6 February brings bluegrass/folk singer Tim O’Brien. His latest album (read our review of Pompadour here) swirls together bluegrass, deep roots Appalachian music, rock ‘n’ roll and traditional jazz and funk. For something a little different, on 13 February, The Other Half, an original story by best-selling crime writer Mark Billingham delivers drama sound-tracked by powerful and poignant songs by internationally acclaimed duo My Darling Clementine (read our album review here).
The Sage will provide an insight into the fascinating life of country supertstar Dolly Parton on 1 March with Parton sings Parton. Stella Parton, Dolly’s sister, gives the low down on life growing up in East Tennessee and takes you back to the roots of the Parton family with stories and music, featuring Dolly’s hits as well as some of Stella’s music. Stella has played the lead role in four New York productions including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and The Best Little Whore House in Texas.
12 April sees a Giant Sand and Jason Lytle double bill in Sage Two. Led by singer-songwriter Howe Gelb, Giant Sand promise alternative rock/country (read our review of Heartbreak Pass) and Jason Lytle is best known for his work in indie rock group Grandaddy.
Returning to the North East on 1 May is Texan songstress Jess Clemmons and her five piece band. Jess & the Bandits took SummerTyne 2015 by storm with 2 blistering sets. Featured on BBC Radio 2’s playlist and wowing audiences wherever they perform, the band play together with flawless chemistry.
Following the release of her highly anticipated 20th album Dig In Deep, Bonnie Raitt, one of contemporary music’s great live performers, takes to the Sage One stage with her long-time band on 27 May. More than just a best-selling artist, respected guitarist, expressive singer and accomplished songwriter, nine-time Grammy winner Bonnie Raitt has become an institution in American music and was named by Rolling Stone as one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”. An amazing gig and a great taster to SummerTyne Americana Festival 2016 – there will be more announcements of headliners coming soon.
Friday 15 January, Patty Griffin plus Frankie Lee
Sunday 24 January, The Lone Bellow plus Joseph
Saturday 6 February, Tim O’Brien plus support
Saturday 13 February, Mark Billingham and My Darling Clementine: The Other Half
Tuesday 1 March, Parton sings Parton featuring Stella Parton
Tuesday 12 April, Giant Sand & Jason Lytle
Sunday 1 May, Jess & The Bandits
Friday 27 May, Bonnie Raitt plus special guests
Friday 22 to Sunday 24 July, SummerTyne Americana Festival 2016