Photos: Americana West Festival at the Hotel Café, Day 2

Charlie Overbey at the Hotel Café (Photo by Notes From Vivace)

The two-day Americana West Festival had a sensational second night at the Hotel Café on Saturday, with rampant harmonica playing, short lessons on the musical instruments being used, and songs about railroads. Like Day 1 of the festival, 16 bands and artists performed across the two stages of the venue among a plethora of cowboy hats. The community aspect of the festival was strong with many of the Day 1 musicians returning to support the Saturday night performances.

Nancy Sanchez opened up the night on the Main Stage and suggested renaming the Americana West Fest “The Cinco De Mayo A Day Later Festival.” She gave the audience a quick music lesson by letting us know that she was using a Mexican vihuela guitar, which is primarily used in Mariachi music. She performed her song “In Other Words,” which was the title track for the HBO movie of the same name. Pi Jacobs hit the stage next and also gave the audience a musical lesson. This lesson was about her drum kit that was on the floor behind her, which she operated with the heels of her feet. She turned the lesson into a short and sweet song about how her right foot hit the kick drum and her left foot hit the snare drum. And she praised the Los Angeles Americana music scene by calling out, “Hey Nashville, watch out.”

David Newbould played his rocking Americana sounds, swinging his guitar with an intensity that would make Bruce Springsteen proud. Abby Posner talked about community as she said, “I feel like it’s prom, I know everyone here.” In the crowd, was a slightly too-early-in-the-evening tipsy fan who was making sure that everyone knew the proper pronunciation of Posner. Leroy From the North was making a triumphant return to the stage after playing Stagecoach. Max Gomez had the audience singing along to the lyrics, “Ride that train.” Kimmi Bitter sang about heartbreak in “My Grass Is Blue” and homesickness for California in “Western Sun.”

Sally Jaye had smokey vocals that carried the set. Her song “Georgia You Were Right” explores the harsh realities and disillusions of Hollywood: “California, teach me a lesson / I can have these stars without all this mess / Small-town girls fall harder than the rest.” She mentioned that she spent 13 years of her formidable years partying her ass off at the Hotel Café before moving to Nashville. The song is a nice juxtaposition to the Doohickeys’ “This Town Sucks” from Day 1 of the festival.

Rosy Nolan cracked jokes. Brian Wright mentioned, “I learned to play guitar in this room and I’m very happy to be back.” He had people dancing on the floor. He also mentioned that this was the first time he was playing guitar in months due to an injury. That didn’t stop him from jamming away, his fingers in a blur.

Victoria Bailey mentioned she was doing a “Rider in the Rain” cover, “This is a Randy Newman song. We’re playing it because Randy Newman Loves L.A.” She looked around for laughs and finally got one from her bandmate, “Hire this guy.” Manda Mosher’s vocals went from calming to country to haunting depending on the song’s tone. Moonsville Collective closed out the night on the Second Stage. “We’re Moonsville, we’re a string band.” Their vintage-looking 1930s microphone had you thinking of the band playing on a Mississippi Riverboat or, dare one say, a train?

While Moonsville Collective was closing it out on the Second Stage, Charlie Overbey was closing out the festival on the Main Stage. He played a guitar that he must have used for many a year, judging from the scratches. “It is so good to be back in Los Angeles,” he said, adding that, in terms of his full band, “we haven’t played together in three years.” One song he played was “Ode to John Prine,” which was written after the singer-songwriter’s death from COVID. It was released to help in the Save Our Stages effort. He talked about how Darryl Jones from the Rolling Stones, Steve Ferrone from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Rami Jaffee from the Foo Fighters and Wallflowers, LP, and his own daughter all collaborated together on the song and that it got nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. As the final notes from his song “Echo Park” faded away, the crowd gave him a loud ovation.

Photos and recap by Notes From Vivace

||| Previously: Americana West Festival 2023 Day 1, set times