My plan was to drink wine and listen to some live music, not to review anything. But sometimes a performer is so good, you just have to share the experience. That’s what happened when I went to see Season Ammons at Casa Vindemia in Wimberley, Texas. Casa Vindemia is an intimate wine bar that has just constructed a tree-covered outdoor stage.
Ammons voice, songs, and stories made the night memorable.
The moment Ammons began to sing, I was mesmerized. I didn’t know what to expect when she launched into a string of southern blues songs, all her own compositions. Her voice is hers, but it reminded me of other great vocalists.
She brings an emotional intensity to her performance much like Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. As she sang, the mostly sad, classic country laments about broken hearts and shattered dreams, it was hard not to believe they had all happened to her.
The rich deep tones of her voice made me think of iconic singers such as Emmylou Harris and Melissa Etheridge. As I listened, I imagined the spirit of Patsy Cline somewhere out in the woods that surrounded the stage, cheering for Ammons.
At other concerts I’ve been to featuring singer-songwriters, when they finally sang a more popular song by someone else, it came as kind of a relief: Oh good, something I know. This was not the case with Ammons who sang only her own material and I couldn’t have been happier. Her lyrics ranged from touching to raunchy and I loved every song.
Most of her songs were from her album released at the beginning of this year, Neon Side of Town. The album was recorded in Wimberley at yellow DOG Studios with producer David Percefull, and includes ten songs written by Ammons.
She opened with the song, “Neon Side of Town,” confirming why neon has such a bad reputation in country music. She said that her song “Daddy Raised Hell” was a tribute to her dad, who abandoned her when she was a child, and her stepdad. Both gone now, Ammons said she reconciled with both of them, despite their hell raising. You can listen to this song through the link at the bottom of this article.
Ammons sang “Whiskey Wings” about a teen girl and a one-night stand with a cowboy stopping in town. She said, “This song may or may not be based on a true story.” You’ll have to judge for yourself.
She did include one happy song. “It’s titled ‘The Happy Song,’” Ammons explained. “I don’t want you to think everything I write is depressing.”
Ammons shared she was a self-taught guitarist. She learned just by picking at the guitar in her room, which she admitted she had to spend a lot of time in because that was her mother’s go-to punishment. She had a good teacher.
Ammons said, “At seventeen I knew everything, so I ran away to Nashville, where I spent about four years. I learned a lot of things there,” she said, with a sigh.
I asked her about her unique first name: Season. “My mother was a hippie,” Ammons explained. “She couldn’t decide whether to name me Summer or Autumn, so I ended up Season.”
About her style, she said that radio stations tended to put her in Americana or AAA (Adult Album Alternative). “But, I’m from Texas,” she said, “and we like to do things our own way. I don’t want to be put in a box, damn it.”
One of her fans in the audience asked for a song from her next album, Steel Hearts, which becomes available August 30. She declined, saying, “It really needs a piano.”
This was another change of pace. On the new album, she’ll sing to piano and is backed up by the strings of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Did they come to Texas? Nope, Ammon recorded this album at the Beatles’ Abbey Road Studios.
Ammons moves on from Wimberley this month on a tour stretching over the rest of the year with more than a hundred stops at concert venues, small clubs, and festivals. She said she wasn’t sure yet but was hoping to play at the famous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. To pre-order her album or find out where you can see her perform, check her website.
(Photos by author)