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Last year’s Americana Motel compilation gave local roots-music mongers—both living legends and little-knowns—a chance to collaborate, cover classics, and strut their stuff. The idea was “to do new recordings of each other’s songs, or selected chestnuts—older covers that could be seen as formative influences on the Americana style,” says producer Peter Fox, who brought together such artists as the Grandsons, Little Pink, and the Rhodes Tavern Troubadours for the effort. The resulting album was acclaimed in the pages of publications as diverse as No Depression and the Wall Street Journal.
Making Americana Motel—and performing at last November’s album-release concert at the Birchmere—was plenty rewarding, says Last Train Home frontman Eric Brace, who paid tribute to the Rosslyn Mountain Boys with a cover of “Been Awhile” and saw his own song “My Sally” covered by his heroes John Starling, Mike Auldridge, and Jimmy Gaudreau.
But when Fox decamped to Los Angeles after the album release to pursue more engineering and film-scoring work, “I think everyone assumed he’d be riding off into the sunset,” Brace says. So earlier this year, he and other Americana Motel musicians were surprised when they got an e-mail from Fox suggesting that they regroup for a follow-up Birchmere concert this week.
Brace is glad to see Fox back in the game: “He was such a catalyst. He made [the album] happen.” Whether he’ll be able to make a second disc happen is still up in the air, though Fox says “it feels right to do one.” Certainly, he’d like to make the Americana Motel concert an annual event—”a Thanksgiving-time celebration of local music.”—Pamela Murray Winters
Artists from Americana Motel regroup at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, at the Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria. For more information, call (703) 549-7500.