Today, Sept. 16, marks the kickoff of the 14th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference in Nashville, Tenn.
Most people outside of the industry and the Music City may not know the importance of the yearly event, which brings together some of the best and brightest stars from the genre.
But if you don’t really understand what the term “Americana” means, rest assured, you aren’t alone.
The genre’s sound has been constantly changing as it has gained popularity in recent years. Overall, the sound of Americana artists is grounded in old and shared traditions taken from country, folk, blues and rock and roll. Many people assume Americana music is always played acoustically, but an array of instruments, including electric guitar, are used by artists within the genre.
Classic artists like Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band have been put into the “Americana” category for many years. Modern Americana has become more broad and all-encompassing, but is overall rooted in a traditional sound with which classic country fans can easily connect. Jason Isbell, Shovels & Rope, Shakey Graves, Alison Krauss and even Kacey Musgraves are regularly labeled as current “Americana” artists.
AmericanaFest is the event in which artists from the whole spectrum of Americana come to be showcased. It’s a great opportunity for unsigned and independent acts to share a stage with some of the more-seasoned artists within the genre. The festival’s annual award show is held at the Ryman Auditorium and features performances from the most popular and buzzed-about artists of the year. Last year, Jason Isbell and his highly-acclaimed album, Southeastern, dominated the award ceremony. Modern country throwback Sturgill Simpson also walked away with the Emerging Artist of the Year Award.
This year is one of the most exciting in the festival’s history. With the huge influx of interest in Americana, a record number of festival-goers are expected to attend. Venues across the city will be filled with some of the best up-and-coming Americana artists in the country. Music executives, journalists and everyday music fans unite to share and discover what they predict will be the next big thing.
So why is this important to country fans?
If you’re a fan of traditional country music, you’re likely to find a few new favorites within the slew of artists playing AmericanaFest. Even if you aren’t in Nashville for the festival, you’ll still be able to discover great new music from the event.
Wide Open Country will be attending the best showcases during the festival to tell you whom is worth adding to your playlists.
Keep visiting Wide Open Country over the next few days as we share our favorite discoveries from the festival.