Desiree Dawson @AMA UK Copyright Allan McKay

It’s been three years since I last did this and some things have moved on, some things haven’t. There are loads of new artists that I haven’t had a chance to photograph before and a few that I’ve shot many times. If there aren’t too many timetabling clashes, it’s a great chance to catch some artists that you haven’t seen before and it’s a way of catching up with contacts from the Americana scene. With a bit of luck and a following wind, you might even discover someone new that you really like; I usually do.

This year it was Desirée Dawson from Vancouver playing baritone ukulele and totally engaging the audience with her uplifting songs, enhanced by the jazz stylings of guitar player Matt Storm. She has a great set of songs and the performance skills to encourage audience participation. It’s not difficult to see how she does it; it’s the obvious warmth of her personality that leads the audience to shed their inhibitions.

But it wasn’t just about Desiree Dawson; there were a few other new artists as well across the international Americana spectrum. Mikaela Finne (from Finland, based in Stockholm and backed on pedal steel by Holly Carter), Canadian Tara McLean, New Yorker Lizzie No, Canadians Madison Violet and Whitehorse and Cumbrian Maz O’Connor. It’s a broad church and that’s before I get to the artists I’ve seen and photographed before, including Hannah White, Holly Carter, Hollie Rogers and Eddy Smith. As an introduction to a lot of artists in a short space of time, it’s a pretty good couple of days.

And the icing on the cake for me; Hannah White won UK Song of the Year with ‘Car Crash’ and Holly Carter won UK Instrumentalist of the Year. Well-earned recognition for two very gifted individuals who just happen to be lovely people as well.

Here’s the official video for Hannah’s award-winning ‘Car Crash’: