If you’re a fan of roots music there is only one place to be in the fall, and that’s Americanafest. The Americana Music Association will be presiding over this 15th Festival – along with its Conference and Awards Ceremony – in Nashville, September 16-21.
This is the premier industry event celebrating the music we love. Thousands of artists, fans and industry folks from all over the world will gather to talk biz, eat BBQ, drink local beer and, yes, hear the best music on the planet.
then get up the next morning and do it all over again (pace yourself, drink water!)
This year the increased the number of acts has grown to 160 (!) performing across 11 venues (!!) This might have given me more awesome choices, but I’ve yet to figure oy t that whole cloning myself thing. This makes seeing many performances, many happening at the same time, an impossibility.
But the upside is no matter where you find yourself you’re in for some of the best music going.
Over the years of attending this extraordinary event I’ve tried to dig deep in the bill and look for hidden gems that might I might miss on my initial scan. Some newer or more obscure performers are the ones that can often leave an impression and have fans talking for days after.
Though I like to see the big names as much as anybody, There are a few names that fly a little lower under the radar but will be well worth making time for.
See the full lineup here.
Caroline Rose – The Basement – Tuesday September 16, 2014 7:00pm – 7:45pm
Caroline Rose just came across my ADD addled mind and I’m better for it. Pop folk never sounded so fresh and vibrant.
John Moreland – High Watt – Wednesday, September 17, 2014 11:00pm – 11:45pm
There’s nothing fancy about a John Moreland performance. He sits alone, mostly with an acoustic guitar spinning rich tales of the human landscape. His sparse, concise yet elegant style has him counting Lucero and Jason Isbell as fans and having his songs showcased on the biker drama, Sons of Anarchy
Hannah Aldridge – Fanny’s House of Music “Americana Ladies Night Line-Up” – Thursday September 18, 2014 5:30pm – 8:30pm
A voice of the ages that can be heard from two blocks over (unmiced) Aldridge beings the goods and more on her sterling debut “Razorwire.”
Banditos – The Rutledge – Thursday September 18, 2014 9:00pm – 9:45pm
This Nashville-by-way-of Birmingham band is a potent blend of rock, country and soul that draws on many influences and squeezes greatness from every drop. Some of the tunes might seem “jammy” but they always right themselves and head straight for solid framework.
Zoe Muth – Listening Room Café – Thursday September 18, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Zoe Muth’s sweetly plantive voice sings songs of hardscrabble love and life that can tear out your heart or rock your soul, often at the same time.
Shinyribs – High Watt – Wednesday September 17, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Shinyribs is the pseudonym of The Gourds mastermind of madness Kevin Russell. Tightly arranged tunes, spiked with a heavy dose of whimsy, shows Russell reflecting a stew of influences from Bob Wills to the Texas Tornadoes.
Jonny Two Bags – The Basement – Wednesday, September 17, 2014 11:00pm – 11:45pm
Sometimes punk rockers age and cross over to Americana. Sometimes their original band has always had a foot in the dusty road. The latter is the case for Jonny Two Bags. As the guitarist for the SoCal institution Social Distortion, Jonny Two Bags didn’t have to travel far to pull out his
Whiskey Shivers – Station Inn – Thursday September 18, 2014 9:00pm – 9:45pm
Newgrass? Naw, how bout thrashgrass. Whiskey Shivers heats up the already hot genre by pulling in an audience and making a performance a communal celebration that will have you to leaving your troubles at the door. They’ve even caught the ear of fellow Texas genre-hopper Robert Ellis who has produced their upcoming self-titled album.
Otis Gibbs – Station Inn – Thursday, September 18, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Otis Gibbs is what a musician looks like that refuses to compromise. His songs are instantly relatable and yet poetic.The man effortlessly exudes that ever elusive quality of authenticity.
Hello Strangers – Two Old Hippies – Friday, September 19 6:00 PM – 7:00pm
Sisters Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace hail from the foot of the Appalachian mountains, due north of the Mason-Dixon Line , in Mercersburg, PA. They ended up in Austin where they worked their craft in the rich music scene helped hone their harmony-rich folk and roots rock spirit.
Jonah Tolchin – Third Man – Friday, September 19, 2014 9:00pm – 9:45pm
Jonah Tolchin’s voice belies his years on earth. His neo-soul roots style transports you and breathes life into the past.
Marah – The Basement – Friday, September 19, 2014 9:00pm – 9:45pm
Marah are one of my favorite rocks bands, all ramshackle and passion fueled recklessness. Thier newest roots music production, ‘Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania’ takes all that’s great with the band and runs it through a copper wire od dark mountain folk.
Cale Tyson – Listening Room Café – Friday, September 19 – 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Nashville by way of Texas classic country and Townes Van Zandt influenced Cale Tyson’s musical path. Tyson’s latest EP, “High On Lonesome” reflects that legacy with hints of Gram Parsons, Guy Clark and Willie Nelson.
Jamestown Revival – Mercy Lounge – Friday, September 19, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
After seeing Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance, Jamestown Revival, at an LA Americana event honoring the Everly Brothers I was hooked. They arguably stole the show that night. This was a show that included Rodney Crowell and Bonnie Raitt get there early. JR might be somewhat off the radar but their popularity is growing.
Cory Branan – High Watt – Friday, September 19, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Sharp songwriting and an aversion of the lazy trope has made Chuck Ragan and Lucero into fans of Cory Branan. Come see what all the fuss is about.
Grace and Tony – Station Inn – Saturday September 20, 2014 8:00pm – 8:45pm
Grace and Tony come from a bluegrass and punk rock background respectively. Not just joining in matrimony they fused a hybrid style they describe as Punkgrass. Colliding the worlds of Charlie Poole and The Clash might have been a disaster for some, but they make it work thanks to a love of craft many of live performances in front of adoring fans.
Lera Lynn – High Watt – Saturday September 20, 2014 9:00pm – 9:45pm
Texas-born Lera Lynn has a hard one to characterize. A little Dusty , a dash of Loretta, leads to a quality to her that make her rock-roots/soul style irresistible.
Jason Eady – Mercy Lounge – Saturday, September 20, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Jason Eady’s is the odd man out here. He’s not Americana, he’s country..or at least he’s what country used to be , before it became Americana. Damn it just go see him!
David Ramirez – The Rutledge – Saturday September 20, 2014 10:00pm – 10:45pm
Austin’s David Ramirez is the textbook definition of a troubadour. A songwriter hammering out hard tales with a guitar and a song. His extensive touring has gained him fans from coast to coast.
Carolina Story – Listening Room Café – Saturday September 20, 2014 12:00am – 12:45am
With the official demise of the Civil Wars I invite you to turn your wistfully romantic ears toward husband and wife dup Carolina Story (Ben and Emily Roberts.) Though they can get a little more country (read twang) than TCW the Arkansas couple can also plumb the depths of a forlorn soul.
Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons – The Basement – Sunday September 21, 2014 12:00am – 12:45am
Joe Fletcher’s solo debut ‘You’ve Got the Wrong Man,’ populated with soldiers, scammers, hangers-on, hellraisers, boozers and the woe-begone. Comparisons to Tom Waits would not be far off.