The Breadcrumbs Widget will appear here on the live site.
AmericanaFest 2023 (by Brian Rock)
Another AmericanaFest has come and gone. Like a musical New Year, it marks the end of one chapter and offers a moment to pause and both reflect on the past and look forward to the future. The connection with the past was especially palpable as this year’s fest coincided with the 100th birthday of Hank Williams. A tribute during the festival included performances by Lyle Lovett, Suzy Boggus, Delbert McClinton, and Rodney Crowell as well as Hank’s grandchildren Hillary, Holly, and Sam. Fittingly hosted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, it was a legendary performance by legendary performers performing the legendary songs of the ultimate Country legend. Other musical masters who performed at this year’s festival included Marty Stuart, Bonnie Raitt, Jessi Colter, Bettye LaVette, and Patti Griffin. The future of Americana looks just as bright as attested to by the performances of award nominees Margo Price, 49 Winchester, Nickel Creek, and William Prince; as well as award winners S.G. Goodman, The War and Treaty, and Billy Strings.
One of the themes of this year’s AmericanaFest was ‘Music makes the world a better place’. Certainly, that’s true for the artists who are fortunate enough to achieve awards and a broad fan base. But even artists who may never ‘make the big time’ enrich our lives. Virtually every coffee shop and hotel in Nashville features an aspiring singer serenading you while you relax or recharge on your way to the next event. Rideshare drivers will sing for you or share stories about their friend or family member who’s starting their musical journey. Even when you arrive in Nashville, the airport cafes have singers doing their best to hold the attention of weary travelers who are constantly checking their watches and phones between bites and flights. All of these people are indeed making the world a better place by sharing their music and sharing their dream. It’s not just the notes or the lyrics that make our lives better, it’s the personal connection. Hearing somebody sing about something you barely survived, and knowing someone else knows how that feels. Hearing somebody else perfectly express that joy you could never find words for. I was fortunate enough to run into Lainey Wilson after her performance at Peach Jam at the Basement. I was hoping to shake her hand and tell her how much I enjoyed her work. In front of me was a woman who talked with Lainey for fifteen minutes telling her how her music helped her cope with tragedy in her life. Through her tears, she shared the strength she drew from Lainey’s songs and the inspiration she found to carry on. That is the power of music. When I finally met Lainey, what more could I possibly say?
Most of AmericanaFest’s 200 plus artists fall somewhere between the street performers and award winners mentioned above. However, many of them gave impressive performances that may very well land them on the award stage in coming years. Mattie Schell delivered mesmerizing, Etta James-style vocals in her Soul infused Americana showcase at Compass Records. Fantastic Cat displayed the explosive energy and masterful songwriting that make them America’s best rock and roll band at their Mountain Stage showcase at the Analog in the Hutton Hotel. The Shootouts hit the target with their high-spirited take on Western Swing at Eastside Bowl. The Sensational Barnes Brothers brought the audience at City Winery to their feet with their righteous Gospel music. The California Country Show at Acme Feed & Seed showcased the poignant Soul-Folk of Chris Pierce as well as the vintage Bakersfield stylings of Victoria Bailey. Finally, Kaitlin Butts rocked The Basement East with her sassy brand of modern Country. Each of these artists is well deserving of acclaim and, possibly, a spot-on next year’s AmericanaFest awards stage. To these artists and to all the artists at this year’s festival, I’d like to say, ‘Thank you for making the world a better place with your music!’ (by Brian Rock)
Please go to the Americana Music Association website for more purchase and artist information
The Blog Tags widget will appear here on the published site.
The Recommended Posts widget will appear here on the published site.