By Alex LaRosa
Sunday’s CRASHfest indoor music festival featured a wide variety of artists from all over the world, performing in diverse styles and different languages. Representing the United States was the six-piece group Session Americana, who brought a rootsy, organic feel to the House of Blues Local Stage. Before their performance, WERS sat down with multi-instrumentalist and co-founder Dinty Child.
Session American started back in 2004 as a nightly jam session at the Toad in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and from there, grew into a full-time act. Dinty said, “It was a way for a bunch of people from different bands to get together and have some fun.” Even though it started as an informal jam, he noted, “People liked it and kept coming, so it became a band.”
Dinty, who plays, guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, keyboard, and several more instruments, stressed the balance between structure and informality.. “In the band, we switch instruments a lot… We have five writers and six lead singers.”
On stage, they exemplified that balance. “It looks a lot more like a jam band than it is, it looks very informal but in fact we’ve worked on things pretty hard, in general.” On Sunday, they were huddled together in an atypical arrangement, with the drummer Billy Beard facing to the side, and the other members gathered around him tightly. They switched instruments often, and all six members sang, often joining on harmonies that invoked a down-South flavor. “There’s a lot of harmonies, a lot of background singers, just a lot of variation,” Dinty told me. “There are no clear leaders, really.”
The set was mostly acoustic, although they did utilize an electric lead guitar with a dry, lightly overdriven tone. The lyrics touched on folk themes, with one song about how love changes us all, and another on the lonely feeling when one’s lover is gone.
We took a moment to ask Dinty to look back on the band’s accomplishments after twelve years. “We started in small rooms,” he said, “and then we played a couple of big festivals.” Now over a decade later, he said that he’s most proud that “we keep reaching more people,” citing a recent tour in Europe. “If you had told me that twelve years into doing something we started doing just for fun on Sunday nights, that we’d still be doing that, I never would have believed you.”
Among so many talented artists, Dinty and the rest of Session Americana were happy to be there. This was their first show with CRASHarts. When asked if he had enjoyed the experience, Diny laughed and said, “Well I’ve got a beer and I’m sitting in a room… all of that is good!”