10 Must-See Artists at 2019 AmericanaFest

Mark Humphrey/ AP/ Laura E. Partain/ Shore Fire

This week, Nashville natives and music loving tourists will crowd into Music City's venues and clubs to see the best of the best in the Americana -- country, folk, blues and everything in between -- scene. The festival runs from Tuesday, September 10 through Sunday, September 15 and features its largest lineup yet, from living legends like Tanya Tucker to rising stars like Kelsey Waldon. The Wide Open Country staff has rounded up our picks for 10 can't-miss artists performing at this year's festival.

Lola Kirke

The sister of Girls star Jemima Kirke and the daughter of longtime Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke proved her own talents on last year's Heart Head West LP. Catch her live right before her next recorded statement of musical purpose: The Friends and Foes and Friends Again EP.

-- Bobby Moore

Mojo Nixon

This rockabilly outsider, known for the 1987 song "Elvis is Everywhere" and a namedrop in The Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl," holds court at Robert's Western World on Thursday afternoon. It might not be an obvious pick for all Americana fans, but it's safe to assume that some of the punks hanging out on a given night at Duke's in East Nashville have this showcase circled on their calendars.

-- Bobby Moore

Orville Peck

Americana is for everyone, as evidenced by this punk rock drummer turned country-inspired twangster. The masked gimmick adds mystery and allure to the act, but it doesn't mask the sexual freedom and progressive stances of a true modern outlaw. As a bonus, Orville Peck's lone appearance comes in a showcase featuring fellow independent spirits Amy Ray, Aubrie Sellers and Jason Hawk Harris.

-- Bobby Moore

Tanya Tucker

On Tanya Tucker's new album While I'm Livin', one of the most commercially successful women in country music history echoes an old request by the Carter Family and Flatt & Scruggs: give me flowers (or roses, depending on the song) while I'm still alive. Throughout AmericanaFest, Tucker will get her due as a true living legend.

-- Bobby Moore

Kelsey Waldon

In May, Kelsey Waldon went from one of Nashville's best-kept secrets to the first addition to John Prine's Oh Boy Records roster in 15 years. She backs up Prine's pick with recent song "Sunday's Children" and its fearless take-down of religious fanatics. Expect more justification every time the godfather of Americana's new signee plays an Americana Fest showcase.

-- Bobby Moore

Lizzie No

Brooklyn singer-songwriter Lizzie No blends folk and country with early aughts Liz Phair-style pop-rock riffs on "Narcissus," a feel-good post breakup jam made for all your Single Girl Autumn playlists and a perfect introduction to No's stellar sophomore album Vanity. Lizzie No will perform at Americana Kickback, a showcase highlighting emerging black artists in Americana, on Thursday, Sept. 12 at Dee's Country Cocktail Lounge. Sunny War, Nickel & Rose and Tré Burt will also perform.

-Bobbie Jean Sawyer

Waylon Payne

Even if you don't know his name (yet), you're sure to know the songs Waylon Payne has had a hand in writing. The son of country singer Sammi Smith and Jody Payne (a longtime guitarist for Willie Nelson) and named after his godfather Waylon Jennings, Payne is Outlaw Country to his core. The musician and actor has co-written songs recorded by Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, Lee Ann Womack and more. If you're attending AmericanaFest, you owe it to yourself to hear Payne's lyrics directly from the man himself.

-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer

Tami Neilson

Rockabilly cats and honky tonkers will find common ground at New Zealand-based singer-songwriter Tami Neilson's showcase at 11 p.m. on Sept. 10 at TRUE Music Room at Cambria. Neilson, who got the western fringe shakin' and high heels stompin' with her powerhouse 2015 album Dynamite!, will release her new album Chickaboom! in early 2020.

-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer

Emily Scott Robinson

Emily Scott Robinson's debut album Traveling Mercies has been in constant rotation for me since its release earlier this year. Written while living on the road in an RV with her husband, the album captures snapshots of  "the America that the Interstate left behind," as she sings on album opener "Westward Bound," and moments in time in Robinson's life, from life as a traveling musician ("White Hot Country Mess") to marking anniversaries with an old bottle of wine ("Better With Time").  Robinson will perform at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 12 at 3rd & Lindsley.

-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer

Mike and the Moonpies

Like any ex-Texan who now hangs their hat in Tennessee, I circle every Nashville-based Mike and the Moonpies show on my calendar in bright red Sharpie. So when I saw that the Moonpies are in town for AmericanaFest, it was a given. As a bonus, they're sure to play at least a few from their 2019 record Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold -- one of the best country albums released so far this year -- and bring a little Lone Star swagger to Music City, USA.

-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer

Now Watch: 8 Rising Country Artists to Follow in 2019


recommended for you

10 Must-See Artists at 2019 AmericanaFest