Set List Bonus: Cross-County Lines In Franklin, Tenn.
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By Marina Martinez
June 1 marked a historic night of music for Franklin, Tenn. — the kickoff benefit concert to fund Cross-County Lines, the Americana Music Association's summer festival, which will be held annually in Franklin beginning June 2014. Franklin is a charming yet cosmopolitan town in the heart of Williamson County, approximately 30 minutes from Nashville. The festival was hosted at Liberty Hall, a music venue inside the Factory, a historic building filled with art galleries, boutiques and quaint restaurants.
The festival was modeled after the popular BBC Scotland series "Transatlantic Sessions," during which an all-star house band performs with a series of guest artists for a night of musical community and camaraderie. GRAMMY-winning dobro player and "Transatlantic Sessions" co-host Jerry Douglas served as musical director and co-host for Saturday's festival, along with fellow GRAMMY winner Alison Krauss, one of the preeminent bluegrass/country vocalists and fiddle players of our generation.
The night started with Krauss on fiddle playing a slow, Celtic-inspired instrumental number. The song then transitioned into a full-on jam session, a celebratory introduction to a night during which music was the spotlight. Then Krauss joined Douglas for a performance of Bob Dylan's "I Believe In You."
Douglas then introduced the first guest artist, British folk musician Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda Thompson. Thompson performed his "In My Arms" and, later that night, a cover of the song made famous by the late George Jones, "She Thinks I Still Care," to an enthusiastic audience.
Other performers included Amos Lee, Angel Snow and GRAMMY winner Shawn Colvin. Lee performed a couple of songs from his forthcoming album with his signature raspy, soulful vocals.
One of the highlights of the night was a performance by Texas singer/songwriter Sarah Jarosz. At only 22, Jarosz commanded the stage with a confidence that belied her years. She brought the room to a hush when she played the banjo with the skill of a seasoned pro and sang a haunting bluegrass/folk-styled tune. She then switched to guitar and sang her own Dylan cover, "Ring Them Bells." I suspect Jarosz is going to be an even more phenomenal artist in the years to come.
Another standout moment came when Krauss sang "Ghost In This House" with very sparse accompaniment. Her voice was almost otherworldly and the crowd seemed to be hanging on every word.
The house band included a who's who of Nashville greats, including Gabe Dixon on keys, Viktor Krauss on upright bass, Bryan Sutton on guitar, Andy Leftwich on fiddle and mandolin, and Shannon Forrest on drums. The band was on point and several of the musicians had a chance to shine during solos on their respective instruments. Dixon even performed his song "All Will Be Well."
The evening was one for the books and I cannot wait until I head back to Franklin next year to see what surprises the Cross-County Lines Festival and the Americana Music Association bring to the people of Tennessee.
For more information on the Americana Music Association and Cross-County Lines, click here.
(Marina Martinez lives in Los Angeles where she manages the American Roots Music Field for The Recording Academy. Martinez also writes a music and culture blog where she digs deep to find and share all types of roots music from Texas blues and Brazilian rap to Bakersfield country and Ethiopian jazz. Connect with her at www.rootnotemusic.com or on Twitter.)