Americana Music News - The highlight of the 2013 Americana Music Festival in Nashville may well have been Allison Moorer’s captivating performance at the City Winery. Her new album Down to Believing is due March 17 and she’s headed out to tour in support of the release:
The 2015 Americana Music Festival and Conference has been set for Sept. 15 through 20 in Nashville. Early-bird conference registration is now available. More information is available at the Americana Music Association site.
The Americana Music Association’s Honors and Award show at the Ryman Auditorium is one of our favorite events of the year, and highlights from the September show will be shared with a national audience on a special edition of Austin City Limits that begins airing Nov. 22. Performers include Robert Plant, Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Rosanne Cash and Flaco Jimenez.
- Rosanne Cash – “A Feather’s Not A Bird”
- Parker Millsap – “Truck Stop Gospel”
- Loretta Lynn – “Coal Miner’s Daughter”
- The Milk Carton Kids – “Snake Eyes”
- Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale with the McCrary Sisters – “You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover”
- Flaco Jiménez – “Ingrato Amor”
- Jackson Browne – “Long Way Around”
- St. Paul & The Broken Bones – “Call Me”
- Valerie June – “You Can’t Be Told”
- Patty Griffin and Robert Plant – “Ohio”
- Taj Mahal – “Statesboro Blues”
- Jason Isbell – “Cover Me Up”
- Sturgill Simpson – “Life Of Sin”
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By Ken Paulson
We spoke to Carlene briefly backstage, reminiscing about her appearance at the very first Americana Music Association Awards show in 2002 at a nearby hotel ballroom. It was an extraordinary night, with June Carter and the Carter Family – including Carlene and her daughter Tiffany – performing with Johnny Cash.
12 years later, many of us still see that performance as the Big Bang that made the current successful and expansive Americana Music Association Conference and Festival possible.
Carlene has an outstanding new album called Carter Girl, which includes some Carter Family songs and a nod to her heritage.
There’s also a new and very interesting interview with Carlene by Glide Magazine. You’ll find the interview here.
By Ken Paulson
When Loretta Lynn stepped onto the Ryman stage on Wednesday night to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting from the Americana Music Association, no one was more excited than the two women who presented the award: Angaleena Presley and Kacey Musgraves.
Tears flowed and they were clearly deeply moved to be able to honor this iconic artist. Then Loretta backed up her
legend with a stirring performance of “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
We had the chance to visit with Presley at the Mercy Lounge two nights later and she continued to sing Loretta Lynn’s praises, reminding us that she, too, grew up a coal miner’s daughter.
Loretta’s inspiration is clearly evident in both Presley’s live show and on her upcoming album American Middle Class, due from Slate Creek Records on Oct. 14.
While Loretta sang “One’s On the Way,” Angaleena Presley offers the more blunt “Knocked Up.” Loretta cautioned her husband “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind), while Presley delivers the tough and withering “Drunk.” The songs are four decades apart, but share a refreshing honesty and directness.
Loretta Lynn should be proud.
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By Ken Paulson
There were many special moments at last night’s Americana Music Association Honors and Awards event at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
It would be hard to top songwriting honoree Loretta Lynn’s performance of “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Flaco Jimenez received a lifetime
achievement award for instrumentalist and then performed in tandem with Ry Cooder, who seemed to be having a particularly good time all night long. And I was grateful for the opportunity to present the Spirit of Americana Free Speech in Music Award on behalf of the Americana Music Association and the First Amendment Center.
This year legendary songwriter J.D. Souther joined me in presenting the award to Jackson Browne. Souther, a decades-long friend of Browne’s, spoke eloquently about his respect for the man and his craft, noting that he first heard some of his earliest and greatest compositions through an apartment floor – over and over again.
Browne, who joins such past honorees as Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Mavis Staples and Charlie Daniels, has never hesitated to use his music to make a point. He has fought for safe energy, stood with America’s farmers and has never hesitated to raise hell in speech or song, demanding that this nation truly lives up to its ideals.
Souther also took part in an earlier tribute to Browne, a 2-CD collection called Looking Into You, released 6 months ago. Souther closes out that album with a moving verion of “My Opening Farewell.”
Otter highlights include Paul Thorn’s take on “Doctor My Eyes,” Lucinda William’s slow and spare version of “The Pretender,” Don Henley’s “These Days,” the Indigo Girls’ “Fountain of Sorrow” (performed by Browne and Souther at the awards show), and Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa’s “Linda Paloma.”
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By Ken Paulson
It’s the rare music awards show that peaks ten minutes in, but that was the case tonight at the Ryman Auditorium for the 13th Annual Americana Music Association Honors and Awards Show. That was when Loretta Lynn, winner of a lifetime achievement award as a songwriter, took the stage and performed “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” It was thrilling and historic at the same time.
Jason Isbell made a bit of history himself, dominating the awards with wins for artist of the year, album of the year and song of the year.
The least surprising win of this year or any other: Buddy Miller was named instrumentalist of the year.
The full list of honorees:
Album of the Year: “Southeastern,” Jason Isbell, produced by Dave Cobb
Artist of the Year: Jason Isbell
Duo or Group of the Year: The Milk Carton Kids
Song of the Year: “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell
Emerging Artist of the Year: Sturgill Simpson
Instrumentalist of the year: Buddy Miller
Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist: Flaco Jimenez
Lifetime Achievement for Performance: Taj Mahal
Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriter: Loretta Lynn
President’s Award: Jimmie Rodgers
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By Rich Gordon
What’s Americana music?
Or “music that honors and is derived from the traditions of American roots music”? That was the association’s definition in 2007.
Or “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues”? That’s the core of the definition today on the association’s website.
The definition keeps getting longer, and the emphasis on country music keeps being diluted. Instead of being recognized as the key ancestral homeland for Americana music, country is now listed as one of five different genres “incorporated” into Americana music. I think this is a mistake.
On the eve of the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, why does this matter to me? I’m a member of a Chicago-based band (Twangdogs) that plays country-rock music — cover songs, mostly. When someone asks me what kind of music my band plays and I say, “Americana,” the overwhelming response is “What’s that?”
Maybe part of the problem is that the “official” definition keeps changing.
When you think of a kind of music — say, “country” or “classic rock” or “hip hop” — what comes to mind? A few possibilities: radio station formats, music-festival motifs, the musical genres associated with certain concert venues, the answer to the question “What kind of music do you like?” And, of course, the type of music that a cover band plays.
“Americana” music, as a term, was born in 1995 when the Gavin Report made used the name for the 12th radio format the publication was tracking — meaning, what songs were being played on what stations. At the time, Americana referred to a blend of two different musical strains:
- “alternative country” music by artists like Gillian Welch, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams, and Steve Earle,
- new music from more senior country artists like Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard — who, the Gavin Report’s Rob Bleetstein said at the time, “are too left field for Nashville, too twangy for AAA [adult album alternative].”
Americana never really caught on as a radio format — there were 90 reporting radio stations, mostly operated by colleges, non-profits and public radio stations — before Gavin shut down its Americana chart in 2000. By that time, the Americana Music Association had been formed, and it now oversees the official Americana radio chart.
Because the association is tightly linked to the music industry — record labels, promoters, radio station programmers — it understandably emphasizes “contemporary” music. But in an article for NoDepression.com earlier this month, I argued that in expanding beyond country-music influences, the association has diluted the focus for “Americana.”
Instead, I argued that Americana should encompass country-rock music over a longer span of time: “country rock generations,” taking in all of the periods when country music intersected, influenced and blended with rock music. That can encompass everything from:
- “Rockabilly” like Buddy Holly, Bill Haley and early Elvis Presley
- 1960s-70s country-rock, from Bob Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” to the Byrds’ “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” to Creedence Clearwater Revival, New Riders of the Purple Sage, the Eagles and Jackson Browne.
- 1970s Southern rock like the Allman Brothers and Marshall Tucker Band.
- 1970s-80s country-punk like the Blasters, X and Lone Justice.
- 1980s-90s alt-country (aka “insurgent country,” “No Depression,” etc.) such as Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Son Volt and Whiskeytown.
- Country-influenced acts on the “jam band” circuit, including old names (Allman Brothers and Little Feat) and newer ones like Old Crow Medicine Show and the Black Crowes.
- Veteran but still vibrant country-centered performers like Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash and Jim Lauderdale.
- Country artists who have revived their careers — and created compelling contemporary sounds — through inter-generational collaborations (Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin, Loretta Lynn and Jack White, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant).
- The kinds of young performers who now show up prominently on the Americana chart: Shovels and Rope, Justin Townes Earle, Jamestown Revival, Sturgill Simpson and of course, the Avett Brothers.
This definition is certainly broad enough to stock a festival — and in fact, this year’s AmericanaFest (put on by the Americana Music Association) is presenting a mix of music that’s consistent with this approach. Jackson Browne and Loretta Lynn are receiving lifetime achievement awards, the Avett Brothers are headlining the Saturday night outdoor concert, and the festival features performers from multiple generations — from Lee Ann Womack to Jim Lauderdale to Rodney Crowell to Angaleena Presley to Cale Tyson.
The “country-rock generations” model also makes for a great setlist for a cover band — one that can appeal to many generations of music fans. As I wrote for NoDepression.com,
A 1970s Eagles or Jackson Browne fan would like the Avett Brothers or Jamestown Revival. Fans of Old Crow Medicine Show would appreciate Buddy Holly. All of them might enjoy Whiskeytown or Uncle Tupelo. And music from these performers — and many others — can fit together nicely on a setlist or a playlist.
To demonstrate the power of a “country-rock generations” model, let me use as an example the working setlist for Twangdogs’ upcoming show on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 20) at the 12th and Porter club in Nashville. We’ll be playing songs that cover 57 years of country-rock history, including examples from six decades of music. Here they are listed in chronological order based on their first release:
- “Oh Boy” (Buddy Holly, 1957) – also recorded or performed by many others, including the Everly Brtohers, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Grateful Dead.
- “Gone Gone Gone” (Everly Brothers, 1964) – also released in 2007 by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
- “Dead Flowers” (Rolling Stones, 1971) — from the period when the Stones were hanging out with Gram Parsons, also recorded by Townes Van Zandt, New Riders of the Purple Sage and played live by Steve Earle and Jerry Lee Lewis.
- “I Know You Rider” — our version of this old blues song is modeled after the Grateful Dead’s 1972 recording, but the song has been recorded by many others, including Janis Joplin, the Seldom Scene and the Byrds.
- “Best of My Love” (Eagles, 1974)
- “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” (Warren Zevon, 1976; Linda Ronstadt, 1977) – also recorded by country star Terri Clark (1996)
- “Running on Empty” (Jackson Browne, 1977)
- “Wall of Death” (Richard and Linda Thompson, 1982)
- “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” (the Canadian band Blue Rodeo, 1993)
- “You’re Still Standing There” (Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams, 1996)
- “Your Life is Now” (John Mellencamp, 1998)
- “The Captain” (Kasey Chambers, 1999)
- “Wagon Wheel” (Old Crow Medicine Show, 2004)
- “In State” (Kathleen Edwards, 2005)
- “I’m With the Band” (Little Big Town, 2007)
- “Down by the Water” (Decemberists, 2011)
- “Hell on Heels” (Pistol Annies, 2011)
- “Ho Hey” (Lumineers, 2012)
- “California (Cast Iron Soul)” (Jamestown Revival, 2014)
These songs will be packaged into a set we’re calling “Love, Americana Style: A Song Cycle of Romance, Relationships and the Road.” Based on our experience playing songs like these in the Midwest — and in Scotland, where we played the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year — there’s something in the set to appeal to every different musical generation. Which is exactly what a cover band needs to play.
Rich Gordon is a college journalism professor, long-time country-rock fan, subscriber to the late, lamented No Depression magazine — and member of Twangdogs, a Chicago country-rock cover band.
The Americana Music Association has announced a third wave of artists for its upcoming festival and conference in Nashville, including Aaron Lee Tasjan, BR5-49, Holly Williams, Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons, Luther Dickinson, Michaela Anne, Paul Burch, Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band.
BR5-49 has widely been credited as the musical catalyst that helped turn around Nashville’s once-decaying Lower Broadway in the ’90s, and paved the way for the city’s current vibrant music scene.
Holly Williams, another Nashville resident, is the granddaughter of Hank Williams and daughter of Hank Jr.
You’ll find the full schedule for the Sept. 17-21 festival here.
Americana Music News – Jackson Browne has been named the 2014 recipient of the “Spirit of Americana” award for free speech in music, presented by the Americana Music Association and the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center.
The annual award, which recognizes artists who have used their music to raise awareness and make a difference, has been presented to a wide range of performers, including Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Stephen Stills, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, Judy Collins and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
“Jackson Browne has long embraced the power of music to engage and inform,” said Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center. “From his founding of Musicians United for Safe Energy to his work on behalf of Amnesty International, Farm Aid and environmental causes, Browne has never hesitated to say – or sing – what he believes.”
The award will be presented at the Americana Music 13th Annual Honors and Awards ceremony on Wednesday, September 17 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The show will be recorded for distribution to PBS stations and a special Austin City Limits presentation.
Americana Music News – The ever-growing American Music Association announced today that its annual Nashville festival will feature an outdoor concert on the city’s riverfront on Sept. 20 with the Avett Brothers as headliners.
The concert will anchor the Americana Music Festival and Conference, scheduled to take place Sept. 12-21. Tickets go on sale June 27 for the riverfront concert. Admission is free to conference registrants.
The Americana Music Association also released this list of 2014 festival acts, with more to come:
Allison Moorer • Amy Ray • Angaleena Presley • The Barefoot Movement • Ben Miller Band • Billy Joe Shaver • Black Prairie • Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay • Buddy Miller • The Cactus Blossoms • Carlene Carter • Caroline Rose • Chatham County Line • Chuck Mead • Danny & The Champions of the World • The Deadly Gentlemen • Del Barber • The Deslondes • Doug Seegers • The Duhks • The Dustbowl Revival • Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo • Ethan Johns • The Fairfield Four • The Grahams • Grant-Lee Phillips • Green River Ordinance • Greensky Bluegrass • Gregory Alan Isakov • Greyhounds • The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer • Hayes Carll • Howlin’ Brothers • Immigrant Union • Israel Nash • Jamestown Revival • Jason Eady • J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers • Joe Henry • Joe Pug • Joe Purdy • John Moreland • Jonah Tolchin • Jonny Two Bags • Josh Ritter • Joshua James • Lake Street Dive • Lee Ann Womack • Leo “Bud” Welch • Lera Lynn • Marah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy • Marty Stuart • Matthew Ryan • McCrary Sisters • Nathaniel Rateliff • New Country Rehab • Oh Susanna • Otis Gibbs • Parker Millsap • Paul Thorn • Pete Molinari • Quebe Sisters Band • Rhett Miller • Robbie Fulks • Robyn Hitchcock • Rodney Crowell • Ruthie Foster • Ryan Montbleau • Sam Outlaw • Sarah Jarosz • Sean Rowe • Shakey Graves • Suzy Bogguss • Todd Snider & Friends • Tom Freund • Tony Joe White • Trigger Hippy (featuring Jackie Greene, Joan Osborne, Steve Gorman, Tom Bukovac & Nick Govrik) • Whiskey Shivers • Willie Watson
Americana Music News – We caught up with Eric Brace at the Americana Music Conference in Nashville and he told us about a new video featuring Tom T. Hall’s “Mad” and a slew of really cool guest stars, including Marty Stuart, Duane Eddy and Mac Wiseman. The video promotes The Comeback Album, the most recent album from Brace and Peter Cooper. Here’s Brace talking about how “The World’s Greatest Video” came together: listen to ‘Eric Brace’ on Audioboo
And here’s the finished project:
By Ken Paulson
Americana Music News – Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott have teamed up again for an impressive new album called Memories and Moments.
This is their second studio album, with songwriting duties split between the pair, and a powerful new collaboration on “Keep Your Dirty Lights On,” a powerful environmental message.
We had the chance to talk to Tim about the new album at the American Music Festival in Nashville.
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By Ken Paulson
Sometimes you just can’t suppress the fan in you.
I had the extraordinary opportunity to share the stage at the Ryman Auditorium with Richie Furay and present an award for free speech in music to Stephen Stills at the Americana Music Association Honors and Awards show Wednesday night. I had my First Amendment advocate hat on, but I couldn’t help but be excited about standing next to two members of Buffalo Springfield.
Why was Stills honored? Here’s a succinct explanation, from my brief essay in the awards show program:
“For What It’s Worth” was not a protest song. Yes, the Stephen Stills composition was inspired by a confrontation between police and young people on the Sunset Strip, but his tone was one of observation, not outrage. “There’s somethin’ happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear” he sang on that early Buffalo Springfield hit. He even poked fun at the protesters who carried signs “most saying hurray for our side.”
Throughout his career, Stills has used his music to encourage us to look at our society and ourselves. His response to the world’s challenges has been reflective, not reflexive. As a member of one of America’s most political bands – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Stills often offered a measured counterpoint. Neil Young’s “Ohio” was a chilling indictment of the government that could shoot dead four students at Kent State University. The flip side of that single was “Find the Cost of Freedom,” a four-line Stills song about sacrifice and liberty. From the post-apocalyptic “Wooden Ships” to the cautionary “The Ecology Song” and the affirming “We Are Not Helpless,” Stills’s music has truly engaged us. Recent songs like “Feed the People” and “Wounded World” continue his tradition of topicality.
Stills has walked the talk. CSN&Y toured the country in 2006 with its Free Speech Tour, challenging its audiences with songs protesting the war in Iraq. Stills used the tour to campaign on behalf of candidates for Congress. “The most valuable resource that we have, that we are wasting, we are squandering, are those wonderful men and women who would be so noble as to put on a suit, endure basic training, pick up a weapon and stand a post in our defense,” he said in one campaign appearance captured in the “Free Speech Tour” documentary. Seven of the ten candidates that Stephen Stills campaigned for during the Freedom of Speech Tour won their elections.
The First Amendment Center and the Americana Music Association are pleased to honor Stephen Stills with the Spirit of Americana Freedom of Speech Award for his roles as singer, songwriter and citizen.
(Photos by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Americana Music Festival)
By Ken Paulson
We were pleased to host Billy Bragg at Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication on Thursday, Sept. 19. Bragg was in Nashville to perform at the annual Americana Music Festival, and came to MTSU to be a part of the Tom T. Hall Lecture Series.
Bragg was also the inaugural speaker in series of programs co-presented by MTSU and the Americana Music Assocation.
Jim Lauderdale has hosted the Americana Music Festival awards show for more than a decade and is one of the genre’s biggest boosters. His thoughts on the music and on his friend and collaborator Robert Hunter:
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- .@billybragg has been all over @AmericanaFest, including a visit to MTSU. Catch his outside in-store at Grimeys at 4:30 today @MassComm1 11 mins ago
- RT @MusCornerNash: Promised Land Sound! @ Musicians Corner @ Centennial Park instagram.com/p/eiOeZqm3bK/ 14 mins ago
- Starting in minutes: The Big E: Salute to Buddy Emmons at Country Music Hall of Fame, hosted by Bill Lloyd @americanafest@countrymusichof 36 mins ago
- RT @cturnip: Just drinking a PBR on @Grimeys back steps watching The Dexateens play… Americanrama y’all… @… instagram.com/p/eiKNigM2W0/ 42 mins ago
- RT @Grimeys: If AC/DC had come from Alabama… @dexateens in full flight @Grimeys #AmericanaramaVI http://t.co/9KSGWkdfWb 42 mins ago
- Ben Miller Band @AmericanaFest @newwestrecords showcase in Nashville http://t.co/FjsBo3DKbB 19 hours ago
- RT @PopMatters: So nice to be in audiences full of true music lovers – a real pleasure of @AmericanaFest every year 1 day ago
- RT @JoeFletcherWR: TONIGHT!! Americana Music Association Showcase at Mercy Lounge at 8pm. I’m followed by Jonny Fritz, Caitlin Rose,… htt… 1 day ago
- RT @mindysmithmusic: Playing a show in Knoxville, TN at 8:00 PM today at The Square Room artistdata.com/a/esae 1 day ago
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- RT @AcafeRadio: The Greencards at The Station Inn @AmericanaFest fb.me/K2czJzkZ 1 day ago
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- RT @MusicRow: Rosanne Cash Preps New Music During Americana Fest goo.gl/fb/CUuX6 1 day ago
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- RT @AmericanaFest: .@billybragg & @rosannecash singing “I still miss someone”. #AmericanaFest http://t.co/WTfLPkGuWD
- RT @yeproc: In case you missed: get the digital album of @tonyjoewhite’s HOODOO @amazonmp3 at a special price through 10/16 http://t.co/VTU… 1 day ago
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