SXSW 2017: Kasey Chambers takes Americana down under at Cooper’s

“If I’d known you were going to sit so close, I would’ve shaved my legs!”

Kasey Chambers’ humorous pronouncement halfway through her Wednesday night showcase was meant to lighten the mood at Cooper’s BBQ (and it did). But perhaps she could fashion that into an answer song to Deana Carter’s 1996 country hit “Did I Shave My Legs for This?”

Kasey Chambers at SXSW Americana showcase at Cooper’s on Wednesday, March 17, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

A mainstream star in her native Australia, Chambers has had moments of wider recognition in the United States, but it’s been a while, and that may be part of the reason for her South by Southwest visit this year. Playing the Americana Music Association’s official showcase, Chambers mixed older songs with a couple of new ones from her recent “Dragonfly” album.

She got quiet on her early breakthrough hit “Not Pretty Enough” and “Ain’t No Little Girl,” but kicked things into high gear when she played dobro on a heavier bluesy tune. Tossing in a cover of Lowell George’s “Willin'” for good measure, she laughed that when she was little, her father used to sing that song to her and she thought he wrote it. Then she heard it on the radio and thought, “Wow, Little Feat covered one of my dad’s songs!”

Chambers gave a heartfelt shoutout to rising star Valerie June, who followed her on the bill at Cooper’s, calling June’s music “a huge influence on my writing for this record [“Dragonfly”].” And she thanked the showcase’s presenter for allowing someone from the other side of the planet to be included under their broad umbrella. “It’s really weird to be Australian and yet they accept me into the Americana scene,” she said, thanking both the association and the fans at Cooper’s for the opportunity.

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