Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Americana Panorama; FESTIVAL It's Summer and the Sage Gateshead Is Going All Stars and Stripes. Tamsin Austin Tells David Whetstone about This Year's Wallow in American Sounds

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Americana Panorama; FESTIVAL It's Summer and the Sage Gateshead Is Going All Stars and Stripes. Tamsin Austin Tells David Whetstone about This Year's Wallow in American Sounds

Article excerpt

The SummerTyne Americana Festival is a big success story at the Sage Gateshead, drawing big crowds and generating infectious excitement.

July sees the 11th festival, with headline acts including Imelda May, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Ward Thomas.

Tamsin Austin, Sage director of programming from this September, recalls that it originated as one of two weekend events bookending a 10-day festival on the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides.

Casting her mind back to the start, Tamsin says: "As soon as the Sage opened, our main focus was to look at what our local partners were already doing.

"For a long time there had been a really strong seam of roots and country music being programmed by the Jumpin' Hot Club.

"I got together with Graham Anderson [Jumpin' Hot co-founder] and said, 'What can we do?' It turned out to be a meeting of minds."

It was a musical genre to which Tamsin was kindly disposed. "I was brought up in a musical family and grew up playing folk music on the fiddle. I fell in love with not just the European folk tradition but also American bluegrass, which is really lovely to play."

She recalls visiting the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas, and being bowled over.

"There were lots of American roots bands. It was a festival by a river, there were lots of great outdoor stages and everywhere seemed to have become a venue.

"It was such a vibrant event and I thought how great it would be to bring a bit of that to Tyneside."

This is the result, a sort of SXSW baby over a long weekend with music in the Sage's halls, on the concourse and outside on what becomes the Jumpin' Hot Stage. The outdoor gigs, providing a platform for the best of a lively Americana scene in the North East, are free. Since all those performing get paid, you could question the economic sense in tough financial times. …

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