Now in its 10th year and a firm favorite in the calendar of North East music fans, the SummerTyne Americana Festival returned to the Sage Gateshead last weekend.

An initial observation this year is the magnitude of the festival, with not only a formidable array of talent but also a fantastic turnout. Music lovers perched on top of the hill in front of the DFDS Seaways Jumpin’ Hot Stage and lined the floor of the concourse in their droves to indulge in the superb programme of live music offered throughout the course of the weekend.

The first day of the festival got underway on the outdoor stage with the likes of local blues artists Michael Littlefield and King Size Voodoo Traveller. They provided the perfect soundtrack to a leisurely Friday afternoon before country royalty, Emmylou Harris, and the legendary Muscle Shoals singer/songwriters, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, headed the bill in the main halls of the venue.

U.S. country outfit, Red Sky July, proved to be a popular choice on the concourse Saturday afternoon, demonstrating some incredible vocal harmonies. Following them was Hillfolk Noir from Boise, Idaho adding some diversity to the bill with a set of traditional music and what they class as ‘Junkerdash’ complete with washboard, banjo, and all.

Rising star of the British country scene, Callaghan, made her debut at the festival. She left a great impression on the Geordie crowd with her brand of delightful cello-infused country/pop before local talent, Chloe Chadwick who recently performed at Country to Country festival, played to a packed out crowd on the concourse stage.

Ward Thomas were the talk of the festival with both indoor and outdoor shows proving to be very popular on Saturday afternoon. Performing tracks like “Reach For The Stride” and “Town Called Ugly” from their debut album From Where We Stand, they got the audience moving. The band also delivered a sublime rendition of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church.”

The James Hunter Six closed out the proceedings on the outdoor stage on Saturday with some great funky soul and rhythm and blues. With a cigarette perched on top of his guitar neck throughout, Hunter showed off his mischievous side by greeting the audience with “Hello Sunderland” much to their amusement. Tracks like “Chicken Switch,” “No Smoke Without Fire,” and a cover of The Five Royale’s “Baby Don’t Do It” turned the area in front of the stage into a full on 50’s revival with everyone jive dancing.

Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal wowed the audience in Hall One. Not only is she a superb singer/songwriter, she is truly a great storyteller with song after song accompanied by a tale. Such great chemistry between the pair, they are thoroughly entertaining.

U.S. veteran soul and gospel artist Naomi Shelton took Newcastle to church with a late night set featuring tracks like “Sinner” and “Heaven Is Mine” from her latest Daptone records album Cold World. She is joined onstage by the legendary bass player, Fred Thomas, of James Brown fame. They performed “Pass The Peas,” which he recorded with the great man himself. Shelton also performed a superb cover of “At Last” by Etta James.

Nashville’s McCrary Sisters schooled the crowd in Gospel as part of a special family show titled “Oh Happy Days” with some of the most amazing vocal harmonies you will ever here. The quartet had the crowd singing along to the likes of “Amazing Grace,” “Let Your Little Light Shine,” and “Victory.”

Making their UK debut at the festival was the all female five-piece, Della Mae, who were one of the stand-out bands of the festival. Performing good time country music from their debut self-titled album, they got the biggest cheer of the weekend from the DFDS Seaways Jumpin’ Hot Stage.

U.S. trio Moreland and Arbuckle from Wichita, Kansas closed out the day on the outdoor stage with some hard rocking blues. Dustin Arbuckle delivers some furious blues harp, whilst Aaron Moreland is a phenomenal slide player on his cigar box guitar. They take us through the likes of “Quivera” and their take on Bo Diddley’s “Mona.” They closed out their main set with an epic rendition of the “Legend of John Henry” with an incredible instrumental breakdown and left the crowd wanting more.

Meanwhile inside, British duo Zervas and Pepper were on hand on the concourse delivering some wonderful acoustic folk-rock, featuring some superb vocal harmonies, whilst The Shires proved why the deserved to be so high on the bill of such a prestigious festival; a bright future beckons indeed.

One of several blues artists on the bill this year was the Cedric Burnside Project. Burnside is the grandson of the great R.L. Burnside and as such, he did his grandfather proud. The multi-talented Burnside took a seat behind the drums whilst Trenton Ayers gave the crowd some great slide guitar, including the likes of RL’s “Miss Maybelle,” having already opened the set with some fantastic acoustic Hill Country Blues.

Special guests Jess and The Bandits closed out the festival on the concourse stage with some great country rock, including a great cover of “Hey Ho” by The Lumineers, which had the crowd singing along and the superb “You Can’t Stop Me.” Jess has a phenomenal voice.

The SummerTyne Americana Festival is going from strength to strength and is the jewel in the crown of the North East music calendar. How can they surpass what they have achieved this year? We look forward to finding out next year.

The Shires
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Rosanne Cash
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Ward Thomas
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Della Mae
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Moreland and Arbuckle
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The McCrary Sisters
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Red Sky July
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Jess and the Bandits
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Chloe Chadwick
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The James Hunter Six
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King Size Voodoo Traveller
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Cedric Burnside
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About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in north-east England. He has been shooting concerts for several years now, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK & Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. Adam considers himself fortunate enough to have shot at some of the most prestigious venues and music festivals around the UK, such as The O2 in London, the Glastonbury Festival, as well as the likes of Madison Square Garden in New York City. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print in Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. Adam is passionate about music and photography, which shows in his work. His taste in music is eclectic and appreciates a diverse selection of genres, from Miles Davis to Metallica, and everything in between. He also has a strong interest in new music, and is on the look out for the next big thing.