Three of the headline acts at the week-long ‘Southern Fork Americana Festival’ in Auckland, New Zealand, 7-16 October.
Hayes Carll is a Grammy-nominated Texan songwriter and Lindi Ortega originally hails from Toronto, but both have ‘paid their dues’ for well over a decade and have a handful of albums each.
On the other hand, young siblings The Cactus Blossoms have just issued their first album from their home-town Minneapolis.
On Saturday we enjoyed Hayes Carll’s rhythm-and-arpeggio, guitar-picking together with well-honed, subtly ‘sliding’ country vocal styling. And a decent vocal range that nicely lifts his newer, more introspective work, on his new album Lovers and Leavers.
NZ’s Adam McGrath (from local band, The Eastern) opened up-tempo for Carll. Solo with guitar and harmonica, in a crowd-connecting, Kiwi-accented, folk-Americana style.
Later on Friday – wow, what a stomping show from Lindi Ortega! Appearing in her signature red boots and hair veil, she did not disappoint fans or newbies.
She played a set comprising almost her entire new album, Faded Gloryville, plus some favourites mostly from the previous Tin Star and Cigarettes and Truckstops albums.
In contrast, The Cactus Blossoms provided a tranquil counterfoil beforehand.
These Northern boys give out easy brotherly vocal harmonies – the Everly Brothers meets Hank Williams, perhaps. Sweet and beautiful sounds.
I especially enjoyed the vintage 50s-60s electric guitar tone, injected sparingly by Jack – nice! All understated in a Minnesota kind of way.
Auckland-based Brendan and Alison Turner opened for them both with a short folksy-country set. More-than-competent acoustic guitar from Brendan and voice harmony alongside Alison’s sometimes sassy vocals (complete with a bit of boot-stomping).
It was a treat to have fine ‘Roots-Americana’ local artists on display and all these overseas musicians all the way down here.