ACL Live Shot: Valerie June
A history lesson of roots from Tennessee
By Thomas Fawcett, 9:54AM, Sun. Oct. 6
Valerie June stood holding a guitar at the front of the BMI stage, her swirling crown of righteous locks seemingly telling the story of black roots music from the beginning of time.
Her immense talent was evident even at soundcheck, which unfortunately ran 10 minutes into her set time due to serious sound issues that were only resolved a half-hour later.
The Tennessee native with an otherworldly voice was visibly annoyed with the technical difficulties. Frankly, she deserved better. That won’t be an issue when she inevitably makes a future appearance on Austin City Limits, the small-screen variety.
Despite the snafus, June effortlessly blended deep blues, country twang, and Appalachian mountain music while donning pearls and a new pair of turquoise boots purchased at Allens Boots on South Congress. She started the set solo on the acoustic “I Shall Not Be Moved” before calling on her full band for album standouts “Workin' Woman Blues,” “Tennessee Time,” and the title track from debut tour de force Pushin’ Against a Stone.
Switching instruments every few songs, June wielded a ukulele (“This is little baby. All babies are sweet, but she’s especially sugary.”) on “Somebody to Love” and an old-school electric Gibson on “Shotgun,” the blood red axe serving as deadly weapon.
“It’s always good to throw in a murder ballad,” deadpanned the young thirtysomething.
The bonus of a two-weekend festival is that the soundman has a chance to redeem himself, or risk being the subject of the next one.
For more ACL Fest coverage, see austinchronicle.com/acl. For photo galleries from the fest, see austinchronicle.com/photos.