Ian McLagan 1945-2014

Ian 2 350x262 Ian McLagan 1945 2014Ian McLagan’s performance in the parking lot of Grimey’s in Nashville was a highlight of the 2014 Americana Music Festival. McLagan died today, Dec. 3. (Photo by Ken Paulson)


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2015 Americana music conference set for Sept. 15-20

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.

Taj Mahal 350x262 2015 Americana music conference set for Sept. 15 20

Taj Mahal performed at the 2014 Americana Music Association awards show at the Ryman.

Americana Music Festival on PBS this weekend

Ry Cooder 350x263 Americana Music Festival on PBS this weekend

Ry Cooder at the Americana Music Honors and Awards show

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.

It’s no easy task to distill the best moments of a nearly three-hour event, but the ACL   emphasis is on the music and not the awards. Here’s the setlist shared by the Americana Music Association:

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Carter Girl: Carlene honors her roots

By Ken Paulson

Carlene Carter e1411441856452 350x278 Carter Girl: Carlene honors her roots

Carlene Carter (photo by P. Paulson)

It was a treat to see Carlene Carter present an award at the Americana Music Awards on the stage of the Ryman Wednesday night, particularly when the Cash-Carter family was so well-represented.

Nominee Rosanne Cash performed, as did her former husband and Johnny Cash son-in-law Rodney Crowell. If Americana has a first family, this is it.

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.



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Angaleena Presley: Channeling Loretta Lynn

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.

Loretta Lynn RYMAN 150x150 Angaleena Presley: Channeling Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn

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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Americana honors Jackson Browne

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

Jackson Browne Sun209 350x262 Americana honors Jackson Browne

Ken Paulson and Jackson Browne

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.”

Highly recommended.


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Jason Isbell wins big at Americana Music awards


Isbell 350x262 Jason Isbell wins big at Americana Music awards

Jason Isbell performs at the Americana Music Festival Honors and Awards show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

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.

Sturgill Simpson won the emerging artist of the year award and the Milk Carton Kids (very funny tonight while stalling for time) won as the duo 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

Free Speech in Music Award presented by the Americana Music Association and the First Amendment Center: Jackson Browne

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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What’s Americana music? Answer spans decades

By Rich Gordon

What’s Americana music?

Is it “American roots music based on the traditions of country”? That’s how the Americana Music Association defined Americana in 2003.

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:

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.
twangdogs 350x270 Whats Americana music?  Answer spans decades

The Twangdogs

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.


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Americana Music Festival’s deep, diverse line-up

ama logo button red Americana Music Festivals deep, diverse line upThe Americana Music Association’s 2014 Conference and Festival in Nashville  begins this week. It’s a rich event with a diverse line-up. Here’s the list of performers: 
Amy Ray
Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay
Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys
Danny & The Champions
Doug Seegers
The Duhks
Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo
The Fairfield Four
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer
Howlin’ Brothers
J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers
Joe Purdy
Joshua James
Leo Welch
Marah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy
Nathaniel Rateliff
Quebe Sisters Band
Sean Rowe
Todd Snider & Friends
Trigger Hippy (feat. Jackie Greene, Joan Osborne, Steve Gorman, Tom Bukovac & Nick Govrik)
Whiskey Shivers

Andrew Combs

Anthony D’Amato
Bradford Lee Folk
Brooke Russell & the Mean Reds
Cale Tyson
Caleb Klauder Country Band
Cory Chisel’s “Soul Obscura”
The Danberrys
Ernie Hendrickson
Harlan Pepper
The Hot Nut Riveters
Ian McLagan
Jim Oblon
Leftover Salmon feat. Bill Payne of Little Feat
Matt Anderson
Matthew Perryman Jones
NQ Arbuckle
Parsonsfield (formerly Poor Old Shine)
Promised Land Sound
Robby Hecht
The Silks
Truth & Salvage Co.
Follow Sun209 on Twitter at @Sun209com.

Holly Williams, BR5-49 added to festival

ama logo button red 150x150 Holly Williams, BR5 49 added to festivalThe 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.


Free speech honor for Jackson Browne

links ama1 Free speech honor for Jackson Browne 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.


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Americana Festival announces 2014 line-up

Avetts AMA 350x233 Americana Festival announces 2014 line up

The Avett Brothers at the 2011 Americana Awards show

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 MovementBen Miller BandBilly Joe ShaverBlack PrairieBrennen Leigh and Noel McKay • Buddy Miller • The Cactus BlossomsCarlene CarterCaroline RoseChatham County LineChuck 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 GrahamsGrant-Lee PhillipsGreen River OrdinanceGreensky BluegrassGregory Alan IsakovGreyhounds • The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer • Hayes Carll • Howlin’ Brothers • Immigrant UnionIsrael NashJamestown RevivalJason Eady • J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt DaubersJoe HenryJoe Pug • Joe Purdy • John MorelandJonah TolchinJonny Two BagsJosh Ritter • Joshua James • Lake Street DiveLee Ann Womack • Leo “Bud” Welch • Lera LynnMarah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy • Marty StuartMatthew RyanMcCrary Sisters • Nathaniel Rateliff • New Country RehabOh SusannaOtis GibbsParker MillsapPaul ThornPete Molinari • Quebe Sisters Band • Rhett MillerRobbie FulksRobyn HitchcockRodney CrowellRuthie FosterRyan MontbleauSam OutlawSarah Jarosz • Sean Rowe • Shakey GravesSuzy 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

This just in: The 2014 Americana Music Award Nominees

links ama1 This just in: The 2014 Americana Music Award Nominees
Americana Music News - Robert Ellis, Rosanne Cash and Jason Isbell led nominees for the 2014 Americana Music Awards with three nominations each, including artist of the year,  the Americana Music Association announced today in Nashville.
Ellis’ The Lights From the Chemical Plant was nominated for album of the year, while his “Only Lies” was nominated for Best Song.
Cash’s album The River and the Thread and song “A Feather’s Not A Bird” were nominated, and Isbell was recognized for his album Southeastern and song “Cover Me Up.”
Rodney Crowell rounded out the list of best artist nominees.
The full list of nominees:
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
Rosanne Cash
Robert Ellis
Jason Isbell
Hard Working Americans
“Cover Me Up”, Jason Isbell
“A Feather’s Not A Bird”, Rosanne Cash
“Ohio”, Patty Griffin
“Only Lies”, Robert Ellis
Hurray For The Riff Raff
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Larry Campbell
Fats Kaplin
Bryan Sutton
Winners will be announced at the The Americana Honors and Awards on  September 17, 2014 in Nashville at the Ryman Auditorium. The event is part of the Americana Music Festival.

Mad: A New video from Eric Brace, Peter Cooper and friends

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:


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Interview: Tim O’Brien on his new album with Darrell Scott

Tim obrien 150x150 Interview: Tim OBrien on his new album with Darrell Scott 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.



Follow Sun209: Americana Music News on Twitter at @Sun209com.


Stephen Stills honored for free speech through music

By Ken Paulson

Paulson Stills 321x350 Stephen Stills honored for free speech through music

Ken Paulson presents Stephen Stills with the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award.

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.

180991119 350x245 Stephen Stills honored for free speech through music

Richie Furay hugs Stephen Stills while Ken Paulson looks on at the 2013 Americana Music Association Honors and Awards show.

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)



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Interview: Billy Bragg at Middle Tennessee State University

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.


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3-minute interview: Jim Lauderdale on Americana

lauderdale 350x303 3 minute interview: Jim Lauderdale on AmericanaJim 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:

Follow Sun209: Americana Music News on Twitter @Sun209com.

Sun209 on Twitter: Americana Music Festival edition



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Middle Tennessee State University partners with Americana Music Association

NASHVILLE — This weekend’s Americana Music Festival and Conference marked the beginning of a unique educational partnership between the festival’s organizer, the Americana Music Association, and MTSU’s College of Mass Communication.

The collaboration between MTSU and the association, based in Franklin, Tenn., will bring special learning opportunities to students pursuing careers in music, said Mass Communication Dean Ken Paulson.

Under the partnership, Paulson said, prominent artists will participate in special lectures at the university. Students also got to attend the Americana Music Festival and Conference, which ran this year from Wednesday to Sunday in Nashville, featured about 130 live performances at six music venues.

“We’re indebted to the Americana Music Association for its commitment to a new generation of recording industry and music professionals,” Paulson said. “It’s a great fit on so many levels.

“The Americana Music Association has energized an entire genre of music through fresh approaches and a collaborative spirit, just as our goal at MTSU is to provide an education in innovation.”

Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association, said the partnership is a logical extension of the association’s overall mission.

The association describes Americana as “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw.”

“Americana Music readily spans generations and we’re proud to establish this dynamic educational partnership with the students and faculty of the College of Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University,” Hilly said.

As part of the festival, Paulson on Wednesday presented the Spirit of Americana Freedom of Speech Award to artist Stephen Stills during the Honors & Awards Show at Ryman Auditorium. The award was given by the association and the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center.

The award spotlights and celebrates Stills’ contributions to some of the most thought-provoking and observational songs of the 60s and 70s, as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and beyond. Among them: “For What It’s Worth,” “Wooden Ships,” and “The Ecology Song.”

On Thursday, British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg was the inaugural guest speaker for the new Americana Music series at MTSU.

Bragg is best known for his topical songs over his 20-year recording career and for his collaboration with Wilco on “Mermaid Avenue,” a project that married unpublished lyrics by Woody Guthrie with new music.

Billy Bragg’s appearance at MTSU was a rare opportunity for our students to hear firsthand from an artist who has consistently made music with meaning, drawing on the day’s headlines for politically potent and thought-provoking songs,” Paulson said.

Bragg began his recording career in 1983. His 1986 “Talking With the Taxman About Poetry” was a Top 10 album in Great Britain.

Bragg’s MTSU appearance was also a part of the Tom T. Hall Lecture Series, which brings noted writers and authors to campus.

The Tom T. Hall Writers Series in the College of Mass Communication celebrates songwriters, authors, poets and screenwriters and offers students, faculty, staff and the public a chance to learn more about the creative process as well as the business end of success.

Previous Hall Writers Series guests have included country superstar Vince Gill, acclaimed songwriter John Hiatt, bluegrass impresario Ricky Skaggs and the Emmy-nominated creative team behind the HBO Films movie “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” which included MTSU alumnus and composer George S. Clinton.


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