The House of Americana

The House of Americana
 
by S. Parks for Country Music News International
The
music genre sheltering multiple styles, diverse musicians and
songwriters of all ages, notorieties, backgrounds and geographic
locations that has been slowly creeping into international status is
blossoming like the magnolias that line Music Row in Nashville.  At
last, recognition with its own Grammy category and an annual festival
that welcomes artists from around the world, now has Americana locked in
and the artists are on their way to shake up the industry.  But
actually, was this folksy, bluesy, jazzy, rocking roots style not just
as relevant in the sixties when it was best described as skiffle and
inspired British bands such as The Rolling Stones and the Beatles?  As
Jim Croce, a true Americana artist before the name was born, would have
said – “I’ve Got a Name”, and the name is Americana.  
Through
the long search for its identity, it has seemed in recent years that
Americana had fallen into the cracks, but a new duo dug down with their
shovels and pulled it up out of those cracks with their rope;  Michael
Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, of Shovels and Rope, were the spark of the
12th Annual American Awards presentation, winning Emerging Artist and
Song of the Year honors for “Birmingham” at the sold-out Ryman
Auditorium.  
After a group performance of “Hey
Good Lookin’” from the songbook of the Hillbilly Shakespeare Hank
Williams, host Jim Lauderdale explained, “We in Americana take our
history seriously….the past matters, traditions matter“.  Hank’s
daughter, Jett Williams, accepted his President’s Award and noted that
after sixty years, his music lives on and is still relevant as it
continues to influence artists today. 
Stephen
Stills proudly savored the Spirit of Americana award.  The traditionally
elegant ceremony recognized Rodney Crowell and Emmy Lou Harris with
Duo/Group honors and the Album of the Year for “Old Yellow Moon”.  Duane
Eddy, Dr. John and Robert Hunter earned Lifetime Achievement Awards
while Dwight Yoakum was named Artist of the Year.  The Old Crow Medicine
Show, fresh from their induction into the Grand Ole Opry, took home the
Trailblazer Award and ignited the fans with their original rendition of
“Wagon Wheel”, which is nearly a Music City anthem.  Written by Bob
Dylan, it can be heard nightly in any honky tonk by musicians from The
Mulch Brothers to Darius Rucker.  
Stunning
performances by the nominees and winners rounded out the evening with
such luminaries as the McCrary Sisters, the Milk Carton Kids, Lennon and
Maisy Stella from the TV show Nashville, Rosanne Cash, JD  McPherson
and Dan Auerbach.  Delbert McClinton filled in the blues aspect of
Americana as Buddy Miller kept it true to its roots.   All were backed
by Buddy’s All-Star Band with renowned producer Don Was on bass, Jim
Lauderdale and Larry Campbell, who took home Instrumentalist of the Year
honors.  
After opening the Festival with more
than twenty Australian artists at the historic Bluebird Cafe, the
Americana Music Festival was underway.  Like a marathon, an increased
number of visitors, artists, industry folks and writers collected their
info and were off in the race to experience as much as possible during
the five day event.  The days began with numerous panel discussions on
music business issues, social media, radio, television, licensing,
litigation, live performance and marketing, each led by a group of
several distinguished representatives in their fields.  With various
songwriter showcases in between, additional panels discussed the global
reach of Americana, New Orleans and Nashville’s sister city connection
to Tamworth in Australia.  
Spreading out over
Music City, Bob Harris of the BBC was on hand to present British roots
artists at the Hard Rock Café.  Grimey’s New and Pre-Loved Music gave us
the sixth all-day Americanarama showcase featuring the UK’s Billy
Bragg, Amanda Shires, High Cotton, and Willie Sugercapps with Nashville
hit songwriter Will Kimbrough.  Just out of town, the Loveless Café
featured Americana artists in its weekly Music City Roots program,
hosted by Jim Lauderdale. 
Donna the Buffalo
and Shelby Lynne appeared at Centennial Park across town in the
Musicians’ Corner series.  The historic Downtown Presbyterian Church
welcomed Justin Townes Earl and the “Communion” event, founded by
Mumford and Sons.  The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum hosted
interviews of Dr. John and Rodney Crowell.  Maton Guitars presented
Australians once again at the Second Fiddle downtown for a lunch time
extravaganza of talent and an all-day Aussie BBQ rocked the Basement
with dozens of participating artists including Paul Kelly, the Weeping
Willows, Michael Muchow, Tamara Stewart, Emma Swift, and a visit from
international hitmakers, Mark and Jay O’Shea. 
 
The
evenings belonged to the performances.  Attendance records were broken
as the shuttles transported attendees to seven venues including Mercy
Lounge, the Rutledge and the Cannery Ballroom.  At 3rd and Lindsley,
Lisa Marie Presley gave us treats from her latest album and ended her
set with a surprising and short drum solo as her mother, Priscilla,
looked on. It was surely a day for offspring of music icons who have
found their home in Americana as Holly Williams, Hank Williams’
granddaughter, followed.  
Ashley Monroe,
enjoying her time at the top of the charts as a soloist and a member of
Miranda Lambert’s Pistol Annies, closed her set with a Graham Parsons
acoustic gem.  Mike Farris shared one of the most amazing voices in the
industry today as his Roseland Rhythm Revue soul band and Paul Brown on
the B3 took us to another inspirational level all together.  That level
rose to continue to the Station Inn where The McCrary Sisters and Grand
Ole Opry veterans, The Whites, led us in a Sunday morning Gospel Brunch.
 The evening brought a special concert with Lucinda Williams, also at
3rd and Lindsley, to say thank you and begin our anticipation for next
year, when Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music
Association, will once again work tirelessly to fill Music City with the
rootsy sounds of Americana………by S. Parks

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