Ramblin Roots is an especially well run Americana festival gathering together a wide range of acts across the spectrum. It is predominantly indoors though given the weather that was a blessing with a wide range of ales and ciders provided to keep everyone going.
With the previous night's activities not completing until well after 01:00 it would be totally understandable if many had decided to hit the snooze button and maybe skip the 10:30 start for Sunday mornings opening act however that was not the case and a sizeable crowd was in place as proceeding began. This morning session on its own would easily have made an enjoyable day and these were just the first three acts in another fun packed day.
This was a first glimpse for us of the Savannahs, a folk country "super group" consisting of Hannah Rose Platt, Emily Moment and Rebecca Rosewell and they were the absolute perfect pick to start this Sunday session. Effortlessly able to switch between singing as a trio, singing individually or providing cross harmonies thy were an absolute delight.
Opening with "Savannah" which saw Emily initially take the lead vocals before those three way harmonies kicked in at the chorus.they immediately got a great reception from the assembled throng. Things only got better with the gospel sounding " I Feel A Sin Coming On", perfect for a Sunday morning. Their take on "Ho Hey" was perhaps a little more melodious and less rawcus than when we saw The Lumineers perform this at The Roundhouse but it was hugely enjoyable.
New material will be forthcoming in the shape of an EP and we got to hear a couple of tracks including the folky sounding "Suffragette". To bulk out their set their were a number of extremely well chosen covers from Norah Jones' "Creep On In" to a masterful countrified version of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" through to "You Are My Sunshine" designed to clear any morning cobwebs away. They left us with a final hint of just how exciting they are going to be with an a capella version of "Down To The River To Pray". They may each have their own individual projects but let's hope we get to see a lot more of the Savannahs!
Continuing the morning of top quality entertainment was Ags Connolly once again proving himself to be a master of misery and mirth. With just a guitar and a songbook of carefully crafted songs he was able to hold the audience such as with the openers "A Good Memory For Pain" or "When The Loner Gets Lonely".
During "Get Out Of My Mind" his performance was so gripping it even managed to silence the coffee machines which had been reviving many throughout the morning as the whole room concentrated on each line. There were musings on a possible sponsorship deal with Ramblin' IPA as he supped on his pint and he followed the observation that his next song would be brimming with positivity, opening with the line "I Hope You're Unhappy" only revealing the upbeat element in the chorus. Any time with Ags is always a pleasure and the as yet unrecorded "Lonely Nights In Austin" is clearly another classic in the waiting.
Completing the morning session and continuing their development as a band, we provide proof the Smith&Brewer as well as jettisoning their first names are now playing standing up! One thing that has not changed are the twin harmonies of guitar and voice. From the uptempo opener "Isabella" through to "Another Shade Of Blue" complete with Mexican guitar solo they continue to impress.
As ever there was the selection of weather related tunes and the ability to stand during "Life's Too Short" gave rise to a little stomp or two during some great guitar work. A lot is made of The Shires having their songs played at weddings so it seems only right to praise Smith&Brewer for having their totally inappropriate Dutch horror film classic "A Lovely Day For Doing Nothing" used at least once. The tale of someone's life disintegrating around them after being left is unlikely to be used to often but that is not the point!
Closing with a storming "Juliet" complete with a guitar break so awe inspiring it drew applause from the crowd mid song, and"Don't Say You Don't Love Me" the morning session completed on a high. There's an album due from these guys later in the year with a full band playing on it that we are really looking forward to,