The final night of this year’s Americana Music Festival was a certainly an unforgettable one, thanks to Buddy Miller and Lee Ann Womack’s incendiary set of duets Saturday (Sept. 15) at the packed-to-the-rafters Mercy Lounge.
Earlier in the week, they put out a call over Twitter for requests of duets from the 1960s, and they even had a bowl set up by the front door for last-minute entries. Supported by a top shelf backing band, Miller and Womack went through the archives during the show and pulled together a nine-song sing-along set of country classics.
The duo made sure to tip their hats to the legendary duet partners over the years including Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty (“After the Fire Is Gone”), Tammy Wynette and George Jones (“Golden Ring”) and Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner (“Just Someone I Used to Know”). They played some spectacular non-duets as well, including “You’re Still on My Mind” by George Jones, the Motown classic “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” by the Miracles and “Out on the Weekend” by Neil Young. Womack introduced “Out on the Weekend” by saying that she recently recorded it, and I think she sounded really crisp and amazing on it.
Tift Merritt played right before Miller and Womack and enraptured the crowd with her story-based songwriting. She offered some new songs from her upcoming Traveling Alone album and a handful of other familiar numbers. Songs like “Still Not Home,” “Traveling Alone” and “Drifted Apart” all wowed the audience, but I was enchanted the most by her slow, atmospheric ballad “Feeling of Beauty.” Merritt also gets the award for most gorgeous guitar of the festival with her worn-through vintage Gibson that’s verging on “Trigger” territory.
Earlier in the evening, I stopped by the Rutledge to hear the jazzy Americana trio the Wood Brothers, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Talented siblings Chris (standup bass) and Oliver (vocals and guitar), along with Jano Rix on a tricked-out acoustic drum set that resembles a percussive Swiss Army knife, play an interesting brand of bluesy, funky, Southern-influenced folk that is rich with brotherly harmonies and instrumental interplay. I was really impressed by the electric blues of “Spirit,” the drunken country waltz of “Mary Anna” and the incredible high-neck bass runs on “When I Was Young.”