Most of 2020 to right now live music is largely put on hold, but plenty of artists are still finding ways to create. Time off the road and spent at home has meant hardship. but it’s also meant creative ways artists delivered performances to you at home and also time to reflect, write and record new music, which in turn means that fans can expect new albums from some of their favorite country, Americana, bluegrass and folk artists in 2021.
2021 starts off right with releases from Steve Earle honoring the passing of Justin Townes Earle. We can also look forward to new releases from Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Langhorne Slim, Lucero, Aaron Lee Tasjan and many more.
Then there are yet-to-be-announced release dates for James McMurtry and others. Bookmark and check back to this list as we will update those add other releases as they come in.
Also if you know of a release not on the list feel free to add it in the comments below.
Thanks for keeping up with Twang Nation and here’s to a better 2021!
Jan. 1: Kandle & Kendel – ‘Birds’ EP (Neil Young Covers)
Jan. 4: Steve Earle & The Dukes – ‘J.T.’ (digital)
Jan. 8: Barry Gibb – ‘Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers Songbook, Vol. 1’
Jan. 8: The Divorcees – ‘Drop of Blood’
Jan. 22: Jeremiah Fraites (Lumineers) – ‘Piano Piano’
Jan. 22: Justin Moses – ‘Fall Like Rain’
Jan. 29: Langhorne Slim – ‘Strawberry Mansion’
Jan. 29: Lucero – ‘When You Found Me’
Jan. 29: Pony Bradshaw – ‘Calico Jim’
Jan. 29: John Hurlbut & Jorma Kaukonen – ‘The River Flows’
Feb. 5: Aaron Lee Tasjan – ‘Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!’
Feb. 5: Aaron Watson – ‘American Soul’
Feb. 5: Andrew Marlin (of Mandolin Orange) — ‘Witching Hour’
Feb. 17 Jim Keller – ‘By No Means’
Feb. 19: Austin Meade – ‘Black Sheep’
Feb. 19: Spencer Burton- ‘Coyote’
Feb. 19: Andrew Marlin (of Mandolin Orange) — ‘Fable & Fire’
Feb. 19: Catherine Britt – Home Truths
Feb. 19: Ian Fisher – American Standards
Feb. 19: The Dead South – Served Live
Feb. 19: David Olney and Anana Kay – ‘Whispers And Sighs’
Feb. 19: John Paul Keith – The Rhythm of the City
Feb. 19: Veronica Lewis –You Ain’t Unlucky
Feb. 26: Willie Nelson – ‘That’s Life’ (Willie’s second release of Frank Sinatra covers.)
Feb. 26: Clint Roberts – ‘Rose Songs’
Feb. 26: David Huckfelt -‘Room Enough
Feb. 26: Sara Petite – ‘Rare Bird’
March 5: Ottoman Turks – ‘Ottoman Turks II’
March 5: Jason Ringenberg (Jason and the Scorchers) – ‘Rhinestoned’
March 5: Graham Wilkinson – ‘Cuts So Deep’
March 12: Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno – ‘Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno’
March 12: Peter Case – ‘The Midnight Broadcast’
March 12:Southern Culture On The Skids – ‘At Home With Southern Culture On The Skids’
March 12 Valerie June – ‘The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers’
March 12 Israel Nash – ‘Topaz’
March 19: Loretta Lynn – ‘Still Woman Enough’
March 19: Austin Meade – ‘ Black Sheep’ (DEBUT)
March 19: Rob Leines – ‘Blood Sweat and Beers’
March 19: Steve Earle & The Dukes – ‘J.T.’ (physical)
March 19: Mike Barnett – ‘+1’
March 19: Melissa Carper – ‘Daddy’s Country Gold’
March 19: Loretta Lynn – ‘Still Woman Enough’
March 19: Mike Barnett – +1
March 19: Sarah King – The Hour
Joe Pug – The Diving Sun (Side A)
March 19: Mandy Rowden – Parachute
March 19: Janet Simpson – Safe Distance
March 21: Allison Russell – ‘Outside Child’
March 25: The Armadillo Paradox – “Out of Gas in Oil Country”
March 26: Sara Watkins – ‘Under the Pepper Tree’
March 26: Esther Rose – ‘How Many Times’
April 9: Parker Millsap – ‘Be Here Instead’
April 16: Triston Marez – ‘Triston Marez’
April 20: Coleman Williams – “Son of Sin”
April 23: Todd Snider – ‘First Agnostic Church of Hope And Wonder’
April 30: Ashley Monroe – ‘Rosegold’
April 30: Ronnie Milsap – ‘A Better Word for Love’
May 7: Ted Russell Kamp – ‘Solitaire’
May 7: Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram & Jon Randall – ‘The Marfa Tapes’
May 7: Travis Tritt – ‘Set in Stone’
May 14: Alan Jackso – ‘Where Have You Gone’
May 14: The Steel Woods – ‘All of Your Stones’
May 28: Ashley McBryde – ‘Never Will: Live From a Distance’ EP
May 28: Blackberry Smoke, – ‘You Hear Georgia’
May 28: Rider & Rolling Thunder – ‘On the Banks of the Tennessee’
June 4: Turner Cody & The Soldiers of Love – ‘Friends in High Places’
June 18: Amy Helm – ‘What the Flood Leaves Behind’
June 11: Oak Ridge Boys – ‘Front Porch Singin”
June 11: Cory Grinder and the Playboy Scouts – ‘Honky Tonkin’ Beauty Supreme’
June 18: Rory Feek – ‘Gentle Man’
June 25: JP Harris – ‘Dreadful Wind and Rain’
July 9: The Flatlanders – ‘Treasure of Love’
August 27: Jason Eady – ‘To The Passage of Time’
August 27: Summer Dean – ‘Bad Romantic’
2017 was another great year for Americana and roots music, and 2018 so far shows no signs that the great music is waning. As our Cream of the Crop favorites from last year makes plain we continue to experience a golden age of roots and Americana music. From Sturgill Simpson winning the Grammy for the best Country album of the Year (for his least country album no less) to the increased numbers of roots artists in media and festival line-ups the genre continues to represent and deliver on great music.
As I’ve said before, this is important not only because as fans, there’s abundant choices for our entertainment but because it continues to lay a foundation for future ‘Cream of the Crop’ recipients.
The list below is a collection of known 2017 notable Americana / roots releases. Some anticipated releases from artists like American Aquarium and Kacey Musgraves have no release dates yet, but when I become aware of them and others I will be updating the list throughout the year. Follow me on Twitter to stay current on changes to the list.
If you know of an actual release not listed yet please leave it in the comments.
One thing is for sure, it’s going to be another great year for roots music folks.
January 12th –
Brooks Dixon – White Roses EP
Ryan Bingham – ‘Live’
Cindy Alexander – ‘Nowhere To Hide’
Seth Lakeman – ‘Ballads Of The Broken Few’
Cassidy Best – ‘Same Old Sins’
January 19th –
First Aid Kit – ‘Ruins’
Lanco – ‘Hallelujah Nights ’
R. Finn (aka Chris Rondinella) – ‘Collecting Trip
Calexico, The Thread That Keeps Us
Steep Canyon Rangers, Out in the Open
Kalie Shorr, Awake EP
Mary Gauthier, Rifles and Rosary Beads
Devin Dawson – ‘Dark Horse’
Caitlyn Smith -‘Starfire’
Van William – ‘Countries’
Alice DiMicele – “One With The Tide”
Grace Basement – ‘Mississippi Nights’
Glen Hansard – ‘Between Two Shores’
John Gorka – ‘True In Time’
January 26th –
The Ben Miller Band – ‘Choke Cherry Tree’
Laura Benitez and The Heartache’s – ‘With All Its Thorns’
Sara Morgan – ‘Average Jane’
The Fugitives – ‘The Promise of Strangers’
Ron Pope – ‘Worktapes EP’
February 2nd –
Mike and the Moonpies – ‘Steak Night at the Prairie Rose’
The Wood Brothers – ‘One Drop of Truth’
John Oates – ‘Arkansas’
Sunny War – ‘With the Sun’
February 9th –
Wade Bowen – ‘Solid Ground ’
Jim White – ‘Waffles, Triangles & Jesus’
February 16th –
Matthew McNeal – ‘Good Luck’
Brandi Carlile – ‘By the Way, I Forgive You’
Courtney Patton – ‘What It’s Like to Fly Alone’
I’m With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan) – ‘See You Around’
February 23rd –
Jeff Hyde – ‘Norman Rockwell World’
3hattrio – ‘Lord of the Desert’
Doby Watson – “Family Mattress Deluxe”
March 2nd –
Vivian Leva – ‘Time is Everything’
Chip Taylor – ‘Fix Your Words’
Haley Heynderickx – ‘I Need To Start A Garden’
Son of the Chief – ‘Needless Road’
Savannah Conley – “Twenty-Twenty.”
March 9th –
Ashley Campbell – ‘The Lonely One’
Ross Cooper – “Another Mile”
March 16th –
Trailhead – “Keep Walking”
March 23rd –
The Price Sisters – ‘A Heart Never Knows’
Paul Thorn – ‘Album Don’t Let The Devil Ride’
March 30th –
Caitlin Canty – ‘Motel Bouquet’
Lindi Ortega -‘Liberty’
Kim Richey – ‘Edgeland’
Ashley McBryde – ‘Girl Going Nowhere’
Great Peacock – ‘Gran Pavo Real’
Sam Morrow – ‘Concrete and Mud’
April 6th –
Blackberry Smoke – ‘Find A Light’
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – ‘Years’
Jodee Lewis – ‘Buzzard’s Bluff’
Kacey Musgraves – ‘Golden Hour’
April 10th –
Rita Hosking – ‘For Real’
April 13th –
John Prine – ‘Tree of Forgiveness’
Simone Felice – ‘The Projector’
April 20th –
Old Crow Medicine Show – ‘Volunteer’
Joshua Hedley – “Mr. Jukebox”
Charley Crockett – ‘Lonesome As a Shadow’
Ashley Monroe – ‘Sparrow’
April 27th –
Band of Heathens – “Live Via Satellite” On April 27th
Scott Mickelson – ‘A Wondrous Life’
Parker Millsap – ‘Other Arrangements’
Trampled by Turtles – ‘Life Is Good On The Open Road’
Daniel Daniel – ‘Lonesome Hollow’
Rita Coolidge – ‘Safe in the Arms of Time’
Ry Cooder – ‘The Prodigal Son’
Kelly Willis – “Back Being Blue”
The Dead Tongues – ‘Unsung Passage’
Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore – “Downey to Lubbock”
American Aquarium – ‘Things Change’
Erin Rae – ‘Putting On Airs”
Jeffrey Foucault – ‘ Blood Brothers’
Paul Cauthon – ‘Have Mercy’
Lera Lynn – ‘Plays Well With Others’
Adam Wright – ‘Dust’
Roanoke – ‘Where I Roam’
The Milk Carton Kids – ‘All The Things That I Did And All The Things That I Didn’t Do’
Carolina Story – ‘Lay Your Head Down’ – buy
The Brothers Comatose – ‘Ink, Dust, and Luck’ buy
Lori McKenna – “The Tree”
Andrew Combs – 5 Covers & A Song’ EP
The Hollow Ends – ‘Bears In Mind’
Kevin Galloway – “The Change”
Jim Lauderdale – ‘Time Flies” and “Jim Lauderdale and Roland White’
Dawn Landes – ‘Meet Me at the River’
Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis – ‘Wild! Wild! Wild!’
Devil Makes Three – ‘Chains Are Broken’
Ryan Culwell – “The Last American”
Murder By Death – ‘The Other Shore’
Aaron Lee Tasjan – ‘Karma for Cheap’ buy
Roscoe & Etta – ‘Roscoe & Etta’
Mike Farris – “Silver & Stone”
William Elliott Whitmore – ‘Kilonova’
Kathy Mattea – ‘Pretty Bird’
Colter Wall – ‘Songs of the Plains’
Asleep at the Wheel – “New Routes”
October 26th Whitey Morgan and the 78s – ‘Hard Times and White Lines’
(L-R) Ethan Jodziewicz, Sierra Hull, Kenneth Pattengale, Lucinda Williams, Joey Ryan, Margo Price, Jed Hilly.
Photo by Sarah Como
The nominees for the 15th annual Americana Music Awards and Honors was announced yesterday from the historic Mansion on O Street in Washington, D.C. Aside from the odd elitism that an event from a ballroom of the luxury hotel symbolizes (the Mansion? I wonder if it’s on a hill?) it was an entertaining and fun event.
The event was streamed via Facebook’s new ‘Live’ feature exclusively through NPR Music’s Facebook page. The Milk Carton Kids — Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan – were their usual droll elves. Ryan once making he connection between the event’s DC location and his vow to “Make Americana great again.” While donning a bright red cap emblazoned with that motto. It was huuuuuge.
Stellar performances by Lucinda Williams, Margo Price and Sierra Hull (who should be a nominee next year) with Ethan Jodziewicz put the spotlight on the purpose of the event – exceptional music by extraordinary musicians.
Alabama troubadour Jason Isbell continues his much-deserved success by leading the nominees with 3 nods for Album of the Year, Artist of the Year and Song of the Year. Lucinda Williams, Chris Stapleton and newcomer Margo Price each nominated for two apiece. Mainstream country crossover is reflected not only by Stapleton but also by Texan Kacey Musgraves
The 2016 Americana Music Association Festival and Conference is scheduled for September 20-25, with the awards ceremony being held at the historic Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday, September 21. Americana Music Association honors additional distinguished members of the music community with Lifetime Achievement Awards, which will be announced leading up to the event.
Jim Lauderdale is a natural as the proceedings host and Buddy Miller fronts the always exemplary house band.
Can’t make to to the event? Understandable, as it has sold out in recent years. But do not despair, the Americana Honors and Awards show will shown live on AXS TV and an edited version will show up on PBS at a later date. It will also be broadcast via SiriusXM Radio, BBC2, WSM and Voice of America.
South Carolina newcomers Shovels and Rope will lead the field with four nominations, followed by legendary Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller each with three nods. I’m happy to report that a few of my choices made it on the list this year(Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, YES!) and John Fullbright is up for Emerging Artist of the Year. Well if being nominated for the Americana Album of the year Grammy, as Fullbright was before losing to Bonnie Raitt, isn’t emerging the I don’t know what is. Dwight Yoakam’s dominance of the Americana charts earlier this year with his new release Three Pears (my review) also garnered him an Artist of the Year nod.
Here is the full list of the 2013 Americana Music Award nominees. Are your choices here?
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Something More Than Free – Jason Isbell
The Ghosts of Highway 20 – Lucinda Williams
The Very Last Day – Parker Millsap
Traveller – Chris Stapleton
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
EMERGING ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
SONG OF THE YEAR
“24 Frames” Jason Isbell
“Dime Store Cowgirl” Kacey Musgraves
“Hands Of Time” Margo Price
“S.O.B.” Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats
DUO/GROUP OF THE YEAR
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
Lake Street Dive
The Milk Carton Kids
Tedeschi Trucks Band
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
2015 was another bumper crop year for Americana and roots music, and 2016 show vast signs that the great music will continue to come. As our Cream of the Crop favorites from 2015 makes plain we might be experiencing a new golden age of roots music as a growing influence on our contemporary culture and as a sustainable , and viable, business for young and old artists alike.
That last part is crucial as it provides seed corn for the future of this music we truly love.
The list below is a collection of 2016 notable Americana / roots releases. Some anticipated releases from artists like Sturgill Simpson, Elizabeth Cook, Robbie Fulks, Lydia Loveless, Al Scorch and Brandy Clark have no release dates yet, but when I’m aware of them and others I will be updating the list through the year and will send word through my twitter account
If you know of a release not listed leave it in the comments and I might add it.
Look for new things coming in the 2016 at Twang Nation. With your help it’s going to be a great year folks.
Keegan McInroe – “Uncouth Pilgrims”
Dylan LeBlanc – ‘Cautionary Tale’
Randy Rogers Band – “Nothing Shines Like Neon”
Hank Williams Jr. – “It’s About Time”
Dawn Landes And Piers Faccini – ‘Desert Songs’
The Cactus Blossoms – ‘You’re Dreaming’
Simon Linsteadt – Self-Titled
Aoife O’Donovan – “In the Magic Hour”
Michael Chapman – ‘Fish”
Brad Armstrong – “Empire”
Buddy Miller and Friends – ‘Cayamo Sessions at Sea’
Sierra Hull – ‘Weighted Mind’
Aubrie Sellers – ‘City Blues’
Miranda Lee Richards – “First Light of Winter”
Lucinda Williams – “The Ghosts of Highway 20”
Dori Freeman – ‘Dori Freeman’
Luther Dickinson – ‘Blues & Ballads (A Folksinger’s Songbook: Volumes I & II)’
The Infamous Stringdusters – ‘Ladies & Gentleman’
Freakwater – ‘Scheherazade’
The O’s – ‘Honeycomb’
Vince Gill – “Down to My Last Bad Habit”
Wynonna Judd – “Wynonna & the Big Noise”
Lorrie Morgan – ‘Letting Go … Slow’
Joey + Rory – “Hymns That Are Important To Us”
Malcolm Holcombe – ‘Another Black Hole’
Wheeler Walker Jr. ‘Redneck Shit’
Alex Dezen – ‘Alex Dezen’
Matt Patershuk – ‘I Was So Fond of You”
Applewood Road (Emily Barker, Amber Rebirth and Amy Speace) – ‘Applewood Road’
Lake Street Dive – ‘Side Pony’
Austin Lucas – ‘Between The Moon and the Midwest”
Mike June – ‘Poor Man’s Bible’
Shooter Jennings – ‘Countach (For Giorgio)’
Waco Brothers – ‘Going Down in History’
Kathryn Legendre – ‘Don’t Give A Damn’
Michael Daves – ‘Orchids and Violence’
Jane Kramer – ‘Carnival of Hopes’
Paul Burch – ‘Meredian Rising’
Bonnie Raitt – ’Dig In Deep’
Caleb Caudle – ‘Carolina Ghost”
Jen Lane – ‘This Life of Mine’
Ashley Monroe – ‘Live At Third Man Records”
Loretta Lynne – ‘Full Circle’
Chris King – ‘Animal’
Anielle Reid – ‘Love Song’
Dead Tongues – ‘Montana’
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – ‘Something Real’
Waylon Jennings – ‘Return of the Outlaw: The Abbott, Texas, Broadcast 1973’
Various – Dave Cobb’s ‘Southern Family
Grant Lee Phillips – ‘The Narrows’
Sean Watkins – “What To Fear”
The Roosevelts – ”The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn’
Parker Millsap – ‘The Very Last Day’
Margo Price – ‘Midwest Farmer’s Daughter’
Elephant Revival – ‘Petals’
Robbie Fulks – ‘Upland Stories’
Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones – ‘Little Windows’
Left Arm Tan – ‘Lorene’
Hayes Carll – “Lovers and Leavers”
Tim McNary – ‘Above the Trees’ EP
Hackensaw Boys – “Charismo”
Pauline Andres – “The Heart Breaks”
The Lowest Pair – ‘Fern Girl and Ice Man’ / ‘Uncertain As It Is Uneven’
Crow Moses – “Nightshades”
Nate Leavitt – “Someone Send a Signal”
Derek Hoke – ‘Southern Moon’
Larry Hooper – ‘No Turning Back’
Robert Ellis – ‘Robert Ellis’
Jeremy Nail – ‘My Mountain’
Mary Chapin Carpenter – ‘The Things That We Are Made Of”
Jimbo Mathus – ‘Band of Storms’ EP
Vaudeville Etiquette – ‘Aura Vista Motel’
Crystal Yates – ‘The Other Side’
The Lowest Pair – ‘Fern Girl and Ice Man’ and ‘Uncertain As It Is Uneven’
Bonnie Bishop – ‘Ain’t Who I Was’
Sarah Jarosz – ‘Undercurrent’
Kris Kristofferson – ‘Cedar Creek Sessions’
The Felice Brothers – “Life in the Dark,”
Sara Watkins – ‘Young In All The Wrong Ways’
James Scott Bullard – “Box of Letters”
Mark Chesnutt – ‘Tradition Lives On’
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley – ‘The Country Blues’
The Earls Of Leicester – ‘Rattle & Roar,’
High Bar Gang – ‘Someday the Heart Will Trouble the Mind’
Chelle Rose – ‘Blue Ridge Blood’
Summer Dean – ‘Unladylike’
Kelsey Waldon – ‘I’ve Got a Way on’
Boo Ray – ‘Sea of Lights’
Lydia Loveless – ‘Real’
John Paul White – ‘Belah’
The Devil Makes Three – ‘Redemption & Ruin”
Dietrich Strause – “How Cruel That Hunger Binds”
Waiting for Henry – ‘Town Called Patience’
Blue Highway – ‘Original Traditional’
Amanda Shires – “My Piece Of Land”
Jesse Dayton – ‘The Revealer’
The Buffalo Ruckus – ‘Peace & Cornbread’
Drive-By Truckers – ‘American Band’
Jim Lauderdale – ‘This Changes Everything’
Shovels and Rope – ‘Little Seeds’
Hiss Golden Messenger – ‘Heart Like a Levee’
The Dexateens – ‘Teenage Hallelujah’
Aaron Lee Tasjan – “Silver Tears”
Various Artists – ‘Highway Prayer – Tribute to Adam Carroll”
Jasmine Rodgers – ‘Blood Red Sun’
Kent Eugene Goolsby – ‘Temper Of The Times’
Miranda Lambert – “The Weight of These Wings”
Grammy nominations are a few months away but the topic of performers that might be up for an Americana Album of the year nomination – meaning releases between Oct. 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014 to be awarded on Feb. 8, 201 – has been a topic on my twitter feed lately. So I’ve decided to bring the speculation here.
First thing is not to get too nuts. Yes Sturgill Simpson and The Drive-By Truckers came out with excellent releases within the qualifying dates, but they are not known names in the mainstream, therefore not on a typical GRAMMY voters radar.Sure there have been some new artists that have broken through the national media consciousness, most notably The Civil Wars and Mumford and Sons, but these are the exceptions.
Granted there have been Americana AOTY nominees that have been welcome surprises. But nods towards promising new blood like John Fullbright (2013) or out-of-nowhere nominee like Linda Chorney are rare and , so far, have yet to snag the big prize.
No, the Recording Academy Voting Members like their Americana artists like their nominees they like they like their pre-awards restaurant, known and well-respected . Risk is a four-letter word in business and the GRAMMYS are about the business of music. Sure the organization does great work in the periphery to ensure music grows and is protected as a national treasure and heritage. The GRAMMYs telecast is a cultural trade show. Only the best are on display. And in the subjective world of music “best” means “sales.”
Of course sales in the Americana world is a rain drop compared to something like a Taylor Swift deluge, but there are charts for sales and airplay available if you dig a little. And for those not willing to dig the “best” defaults to “well known.” this is not a dig, it’s the artist’s responsibility to break through the din of music sameness to gain the attention of the voter if a GRAMMY is something they desire. And really, in the world of unit sales doesn’t “known” almost always results in ‘best?”
But sometimes the “best” in our little world doesn’t make it up to the big boys. Consider the lack of a nomination for Jason Isbell’s “Southeastern.” An album that made all the Americana, and many mainstream country, year-end lists last year. I was still hearing about that major oversight at Americanafest last month.
Luckily the known entities of Americana are still a cut above most genres and therefore often have some of the best music of the year.
Below are my picks for the 5 potential nominees with my pick for winner. There are a few dark horses I believe deserve to be in the running. Again, I do not vote for the GRAMMYS, just cover the event. I have no insider knowledge and will know the nominees and winners as you do.
Rodney Crowell – ‘Tarpaper Sky’ – This is the easiest pick of the bunch, As a 2013 Americana AOTY co-winner, along with Emmylou, Harris, Crowell already has the hearts and, more importantly, the attention of the Recording Academy Voting Members.
Carlene Carter – ‘Carter Girl’ – Nominated once in 1991 for the Best Female Country Vocal Performance GRAMMY for her throwback rendition of “I Fell in Love.” Carter has recently been working hard in support of her latest including a well-received stop at a GRAMMY Museum showcase.
Willie Nelson – ‘Band Of Brothers’ – It’s hard to ignore one of Willie’s best, and best selling, releases in years. With 11 GRAMMYs under his belt and a 2010 nomination for this category, alongside Asleep at the Wheel for ‘Willie and the Wheel,’ Willie has the gravitas and the goods to snag a nomination.
Jim Lauderdale – ‘I’m A Song’ – Lauderdale personifies Americana it it’s popular form as a representative of the Americana Music Association and as the acclaimed MC of their awards ceremony. He along with his musical and SiriusXM Outlaw Country co-host Buddy Miller, were nominated for this category last year for their collective release ‘ Buddy and Jim.’ He’s won 2 GRAMMYs first in 2002 with Dr. Ralph Stanley for “Lost in the Lonesome Pines” and his second for his “The Bluegrass Diaries” –
Rosanne Cash – ‘The River & The Thread’ – Cash released, what I consider, is the finest record of her career and was instantly heralded as a genre favorite. Critics from USA Today to this blog loved it. Radio loved it and, more importantly, fans loved it. Twelve GRAMMY nomination and one win for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me” (1985) She’s well-known and respected in the hearts of the voters. Look for this one to win.
DARK HORSE PICK
Sturgill Simpson – ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ – If there were a Nobel Prize for talent and genuineness in music Sturgill Simpson would get it for his latest. It’s a favorite across the Americana community and has perked up the ears of mainstream country music fans and blogs as well. Ideally ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ should win the GRAMMY for Country Album OTY. Hell, if Kacey Musgraves can do it why not?
Parker Millsap – ‘Parker Millsap’ – There’s no denying the buzz around this young Oklahoman. His performance at Americanafest resulted in a waiting line to squeeze in to a packed room and screaming on a Beatlemania level. And the hype lives up to the talent. Let;s hear it for the young bloods with old souls!
Nickel Creek – ‘A Dotted Line’ – Okay, Nickel Creek isn’t much of a dark horse. But after a seven-year hiatus (as a band, not as individual performers) will voters still recall their obvious greatness as they did when tehy received 4 GRAMMY nominations and won for Best Contemporary Folk Album for 2003’s ‘This Side?’
It was fitting that on the eve of AmericanaFest 15 I should run into Rob Bleetstein.
Let me explain. Bleetstein is man partially responsible for “Americana” being used as a qualifier for “music.”
As editor at the esteemed Gavin Report Bleetstein informed the radio trade publication that they were missing category of mongrel music he, and others, had been programing while employed at KFAT in Gilroy, California. The result was the first Americana radio chart being published on January 20, 1995.
So of course I asked him what Americana was.
As we joked at the seemingly endless consternation his vague creation had unleashed on geeks like me a capacity crowd streamed out of The Basement around us. They had just witnessed vets Phil Madeira and Will Kimbrough swap songs with the sassy third of the Pistol Annie’s Angaleena Presley and dazzlingly edgy newcomer Caroline Rose. More folks packed in behind them to catch he steamy roots soul/gospel of Mike Ferris & the Roseland Rhythm Revue. The music surrounding us, the fans buzzing about the days of sleepless nights to come. Endless squabbling about genre borders seems irrelevant.
Then Bleetstein mentioned he had read a Rolling Stone where Eric Clapton had given a definition when discussing his newly released project The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale. Clapton said “In Europe, we heard JJ as Americana, all the roots put together.”
All the roots put together. An imperfect definition for an imperfect form.
Let’s go with that.
Musicians, fans and industry types – figuring how they are still relevant in the cultural value chain – descended on Nashville for the Americana Music Conference, Festival and Awards to witness some of the best, nay THE best, music going. Fueled by BBQ, hot chicken, local beer, bourbon and a variety of caffeine there were endless pow-wows, parties, pre-parties, listening parties, post- parties tet-de-tets and random run-ins.
And yes I did squeeze some music in on occasion.
I say some because there was so many band across multiple venues you had to plan out your evenings in advance. I did. Then I mostly abandoned them for convenience, air conditioning and parking.
First the Awards. I never get over the thrill of walking into the Ryman Auditorium. It is a hallowed place full of ghosts and echoes and, as overwhelming as it is to sit in those church pews I can’t imagine what it’s like to perform on that stage.
But many did on that night and they did it with the passion and reverence due.
Reverence was also what Kacey Musgraves and Angaleena Presley displayed when presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting to legend and pioneer Loretta Lynn. Lynn accepted the award 54 years to the day that she first appeared on the Ryman stage, making her Grand Ole Opry debut. Presley introduced Lynn as “a woman who raised up six children and 70-odd hit singles but, just as importantly, raised everyone’s idea of what a country song could talk about it.” A standing ovation rightly greeted Lynn as she entered the stage in her signature flowing gown. “When they told me I was going to get this award, I said, ‘Naw, you got the wrong one. But it was right, and I was so proud.”‘
Then she sang Coal Miner’s Daughter. on The Ryman stage. Damn.
“Happy birthday to Hank Williams,” Jason Isbell said as he accepted one of the three awards in three categories he won that night for his stellar release of his newest Southeastern . “If it wasn’t for that guy, we’d be doing this in some burned-out Kmart in Murfreesboro.”
While picking up his hand-crafted trophy for song of the year “Cover Me Up” Isbell said “I wrote this song for my wife.” Referring to Amanda Shires Texas singer/songwriter who accompanied him that night on a rousing performance that brought the crowd to it’s feet. “This was probably the hardest song I ever had to write because I wrote it for her and then I played it for her. It was very difficult. Do the things that scare you. That’s the good stuff.”
I’m very happy that Isbell was able to put himself in a place that allowed him to do some of the best work he’s ever produced, and that recognition has rightly followed.
The emerging artist category was the tightest, and best, I has ever remembered it to be. Between Parker Millsap, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Sturgill Simpson and Hurray For The Riff Raff, all whom performed live, it was a tough call. It was anyone’s game. That is until it was Simpson’s as he headed to the podium with a characteristically terse “This is for my family.” Enough said, hoss.
Country music legend and historical memorabilia collector Marty Stuart honored to Jimmie Rodgers posthumously awarding the The Father of Country Music the Presidents Award. Then he and his Fabulous Superlatives
tore through a spirited “No Hard Times” with Stuart and guitarist Kenny Vaughan giving the song a contemporary flair with blazing tandem electric guitars.
Guitarist extraordinaire Ry Cooder sat in with Buddy Miller and the band for the night’s events. His dexterity on the guitar is matched by his ability to move through, or completely around musical styles, tying them together in the process. He took time away from his supporting duties to award his longtime collaborator norteño accordion pioneer Flaco Jimenez with a Lifetime Achievement as an Instrumentalist. They then performed a lovely version of the Spanish-language traditional “Ingrato Amor.” Cooder also teamed up with Artist of the year nominee Rodney Crowell for a delicate version of careful rendition of “God I’m Missing You,” from Crowell’s latest ‘Tarpaper Sky.’
Rosanne Cash brought a sophisticated air to her performance of her “A Feather’s Not a Bird,” and a gritty-folk menace surrounded Patty Griffin as she was joined by Robert Plant to perform “Ohio.”
Emerging artist nominee Hurray For The Riff Raff performed a transfixing version of their murder ballad “Body Electric” while vocalist Alynda Lee Segarra shimmered in a Nudie-style suit. Robert Ellis showed himslef to be one of the industries most creative and astute songwriters as he performed his nominated “Only Lies.”
At the Country Music Museum and Hall Of Fame’s Ford Theatre Outlaw legend Billy Joe Shaver give a brief (but candid) interview about his life’s tribulations. He then rose to perform, with simple acoustic accompaniment,
songs rendered from those hardships. Hardships he assured us made easier early with whiskey and later with Jesus.
Then it was upstairs to a new, beautiful, portion of the Country Music Hall of Fame’s CMA Theater to catch “Honky Tonkin’: Twenty Years on Lower Broad” celebration/showcase of bands that featured Greg Garing, Paul Burch and R.B. Morris and BR549. Performers that helped reenergize Nashville’s Lower Broadway after the Opry moved out of the Ryman and to the burbs. Before performing, upright bassist “Smilin” Jay McDowell walked to the front of the stage and placed a tip jar as a tribute to the days when the band survived on such monetary generosities. Singer Chuck Mead , bedecked in his Nudie Suit best with his cherry-red Gretsch electric guitar and co-frontman Gary Bennett, toned down in jeans and western shirt, then showed hoe their tight harmonies gloriously transported all those that had been there those many years ago. Veteran Lower Broad singer and mentor John Shepherd, attending with wife and singing partner Lois Shepherd, continues tradition as he headed slowly to the stage and dropped the first dollar tip, prompting laughs and applause.
Lee Ann Womack had some shows during the event. I was lucky to catch a song swap with her, Hayes Carll, Bobby Bare Jr. and the legendary songwriter Bobby Braddock high atop the SiriusXM Outlaw theatre. Hosted by Mojo Nixon (outLAAAAAAW country) Carll and Bare shared a laugh on their collaboration “My Baby Took My Baby Away” and , later, Carll looked on with shyness and awe as Womack hushed the crowd with his “Chances Are” which she oncluded on het newest release. The real highlight though was Braddock singing his classics “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “Golden Ring” and everyone joining in on the closer “We’re Not The Jet Set.”
But the real gold is the showcases. Stand-outs were Angel Snow (her real name, I asked) playing at a sparsely attended Americana for Movies and Shows. I only caught once song but that’s all it took to render me speechless. Alabamian Mathew Mayfield followed with his brand of rough-hewn catchy folk. The i wa shocked to see bluegrass/folk stalwart Tim O’Brien take the stage. I felt bad that there were so few people but lucky I was one of those few.
A trip to Jack White’s odd Third Man performance space was bathed in calm, blue lighting as a mounted elephant head loomed above the crowd. On the bill was Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear. The mother and son act perform seated, strumming acoustic guitars and singing deep-roots songs that reach far into blues and folks misty past. In the same space on another night Jonah Tolchin hold a folk-jam clinic that surprised many expecting the genteel folk-blues style from his latest “Clover Lane.”
Caroline Rose commanded attention of the crowd with her school-girl outfit and her manically focused folk-rock set that had them screaming for more. While trying to escape the heat of the Mercy Lounge I found myself in the cooler High Watt space watching a performance of Aaron Lee Tasjan. Exhibiting the droll but sharp humor of Todd Snider but the delicate songcraft of Townes Van Zandt the Nashville resident defied all expectations.
How could any of that fit in one neat marketing package? I feel for the marketing rep that handles any of these artists and is asked “What kind of music is it?”
The Americana Music Association continues its tradition of showcasing some of the best in Americana and roots music by it’s partial roster of Americanfest performers released today.
Though the lineup doesn’t show any groundbreaking direction, I’m fine with that. There are lots of folks on the list that have been busting their hump for years and deserve this recognition rather then inserting acts to placate outsider accusations of one thing or another. Personally I’m happy to see Casa Twang favorites Howlin’ Brothers, Jamestown Revival, John Moreland, Lera Lynn, Marah and Ben Miller Band on the bill. And Texas is well-represented by Billy Joe Shaver, Sarah Jarosz, Jason Eady and Hayes Carll
The event is celebrating its 15th as the premier Americana event by welcoming 160 performers taking the stage at 11 venues including 3rd & Lindsley, The Basement, City Winery, High Watt, Cannery, Mercy Lounge, The Rutledge, Station Inn, Music City Roots, Downtown Presbyterian Church and Musicians Corner.
Three-time Americana Group of the Year, The Avett Brothers, will headline the event at Riverfront Parl on Saturday Sept. 20. Americana’s Music Festival & Conference registrations will have access. Tickets for the general public will go on sale Friday, June 27 at 10AMat www.ticketfly.com.
The first half of Americanafest’s performing artist list includes:
The Avett Brothers
The Barefoot Movement
Ben Miller Band
Billy Joe Shaver
Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay
The Cactus Blossoms
Chatham County Line
Danny & The Champions of the World
The Deadly Gentleman
The Dustbowl Revival
Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo
The Fairfield Four
Green River Ordinance
Gregory Alan Isakov
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer
JD Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers
Jonny Two Bags
Lake Street Dive
Lee Ann Womack
Marah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy
New Country Rehab
Quebe Sisters Band
Todd Snider & Friends
Tony Joe White
Trigger Hippy (feat. Jackie Greene, Joan Osbourne, Steve Gorman, Tom Bukovac & Nick Govrik)
The 15th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference occurs September 17-21, 2014 in Nashville, Tenn. The 13th annual Americana Honors & Awards Show on Sept. 17 at the historic Ryman Auditorium.
The nominees were announced today in Nashville by the Americana Music Association, and what a great list of talent it is!
Rosanne Cash, Robert Ellis and Jason Isbell each had three nominations in the same categories of Album of the Year, Artist of the Year and Song of the Year.
Cash, Ellis and Isbell are nominated for Artist of the Year, along with Rodney Crowell. Cash’s “A Feather’s Not a Bird,” Ellis’ “Only Lies” and Isbell’s “Cover Me Up” along with Patty Griffin’s “Ohio” are up for Song of the Year.
Cash’s album “The River and the Thread” is up for Album of the Year against Ellis’ “The Lights From the Chemical Plant,” Isbell’s “Southeastern” and Sarah Jarosz’s “Build Me Up From Bones.”
While watching the nomination event online on the Music City Roots Livestream Ellis chimed in from Houston As his name was called once, twice, three times he responded on the messaging thread with genuine surprise and humility “Wow!” “Thank you all!” he typed.
Rosanne Cash tweeted that she was “Thrilled!!” yo learn of her nominations.
The other Americana Honors & Awards categories, Lake Street Dive , the Avett Brothers, the Devil Makes Three, Hard Working Americans, and the Milk Carton Kids are up for Duo/Group of the Year. Hurray for the Riff Raff, Parker Millsap, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Sturgill Simpson and Valerie June are in the vying for Emerging Act of the Year; and Larry Campbell, Buddy Miller, Fats Kaplin and Bryan Sutton are the nominees for Instrumentalist of the Year.
The awards will be handed out Sept. 17 at the Ryman Auditorium as part of the Americana Music Festival and Conference, happening Sept. 17-21 in Nashville. Jim Lauderdale will host the awards show, and Miller will lead the house an all-star band.
2014 AMERICANA HONORS & AWARDS NOMINEES
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Build Me Up From Bones, Sarah Jarosz
The Lights From The Chemical Plant, Robert Ellis
The River And The Thread, Rosanne Cash
Southeastern, Jason Isbell
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
DUO/GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Avett Brothers
The Devil Makes Three
Hard Working Americans
Lake Street Dive
The Milk Carton Kids
SONG OF THE YEAR
“Cover Me Up”, Jason Isbell
“A Feather’s Not A Bird”, Rosanne Cash
“Ohio”, Patty Griffin
“Only Lies”, Robert Ellis
EMERGING ACT OF THE YEAR
Hurray For The Riff Raff
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
Every time I head across this great nation to Music City to attend the always enjoyable Americana Music Association Festival, Conference and Awards Ceremony (whew!) i always come home with great memories.
Most of those memories concern showcase bands and performers I hadn’t I hadn’t planned on seeing, Some where bands that were not part of the official showcase but were caught off the official badge accessible path.
Though there is no knowing the unknowable, but here are some ands that might not be at the top of AmericanaFest goers list. But they should be.
1. The Lone Bellow – The next wave of Pop-Americana raises that car on harmony and musicianship.
2. JD McPherson – The buzz is heavy around this Oklahoma native (seriously Oklahoma? Wasn’t John Fullbright enough excellence) digs into rocks past and delivers it fresh and hot.
3. St. Paul and The Broken Bones – Birmingham-based band St. Paul and the Broken Bones performs a review of neo-soul sure to please.
4. Dugas – Speaking of soul, Winnipeg, Canadaian siblings Sarah & Christian Dugas brings it with a Southern flair.
5. Matrimony – Lovely melodies and Ashlee Hardee Brown’s impassioned vocals makes Charlotte, North Carolina-based Matrimony a must-see.
6. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Maybe less under the radar, but never-the-less a well-known favorite at Casa Twang. New Orleans-based singer/somgwriter Alynda Lee Segarra and her revolving collective, known as Hurray for the Riff Raff, packs houses wherever they play.
7. NQ Arbuckle – Since 2002 Toronto-based NQ Arbuckle has been making their brand of whip smart and hart felt alt.country.
8. Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers -Bay Area-based singer/songwriter Nicki Bluhm has pipes that got her invited to perform with the Chris Robinson, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Warren Haynes, Grace Potter, The Avett Brothers. Her crackerjack band since 2003 8, The Gramblers, lay down just the right amount of heat.
9. Willie Sugarcapps – Of the handfull of Americana Music supergroups taht have come about Willie Sugarcapps is one of the most super. The star-studded band features Will Kimbrough, Sugarcane Jane, Grayson Capps and Corky Hughes melding together thier considerable talents.
10. Parker Millsap – Purcell, OK (Oklahoma!) native Parker Millsap is what you might call a troubadour. His excellent song-craft, expressive and gritty vocals front one hell of aa great band.
Building on the already excellent initial lineup announcement the Nashville-based Americana Music Association has released has released the full roster of artists performing during the event.
Some of the additions that stand out to me are roots-rockers Shooter Jennings and Austin Lucas, alt.country stalwarts Bottle Rockets and Ashley Monroe who apparently has no problem working both the Americana and Music Row sides of the fence (good!) One performer I’m bummed to see missing from the roster is Jason Isbell (Though his talented better half, Amanda Shires, is on the list.) There might be scheduling conflicts with his current tour supporting the excellent “Southeastern.”
The vagueness of Americana’s boundaries allows a richness and diversity within a shared source and vision. it’s what legend, and scheduled performer, Darrell Scott describes positively as a “hard-to-define place.”
the selections show a broad range of diversity and excellence the of the genre. Great to see many Casa Twang favorites represented as well.
Americana Music Festival & Conference Showcase Performing Artistt
Andrew Leahey & the Homestead
Band of Heathens
Ben Miller Band
Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien
Dash Rip Rock
Donna the Buffalo
Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
Hurray for the Riff Raff
JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons
Joy Kills Sorrow
Judah & the Lion
Justin Townes Earle
Lisa Marie Presley
Luella & the Sun
My Darling Clementine
Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers
Nora Jane Struthers
North Mississippi Allstars
Old Man Luedecke
Over The Rhine
Sam Doores, Riley Downing & the Tumbleweeds
Sons of Fathers
Spirit Family Reunion
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Steep Canyon Rangers
Stewart Mann & the Statesboro Revue
The Devil Makes Three
The Lone Bellow
The Lost Brothers
The Stray Birds
The Westbound Rangers
The White Buffalo
Two Man Gentleman Band