AmericanaFest 2018: The Couch Potato’s Guide
If you’re reading this you’re likely either on your way to Nashville or already there. Or, if you’re like me and a few hundred thousand other roots music fans, you’ll be staying right where you are and feeling awful because you’re missing all the action. I don’t normally get “festival envy,” but thinking about 500 performances at 60 venues over six nights and not having to sleep in a bag or get all wet or muddy to experience it sounds like fun. If I was going I’d top it off with a room on the concierge floor of the Vanderbilt Hotel, breakfast each morning at The Pancake Pantry, and hourly snacking on Goo Goo Clusters.
I’m sure this year’s events will be covered quite well here at No Depression and on their social media channels, and should you have masochistic tendencies and the need to boost your misery in not being there, here’s a few other websites that will also be covering the beat: Rolling Stone Country, The Boot, Wide Open Country, Billboard, andThe Tennesean. On Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 6:30 p.m. CT, NPR Music and World Cafe will also webcast the Americana Music Honors & Awards ceremony live from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. For all the kudos that SXSW and Folk Alliance get for showcasing roots music, from afar it looks like the Americana Music Association has now taken the lead.
It’ll be interesting to hear back from artists and attendees on whether last year’s complaints about a lack of diversity — less than 10 percent of the 300 performers were acts that weren’t made up of exclusively white members — have been addressed. And as Billboard reported after last year’s festivities, “not only has Album of the Year never gone to a person of color during the 18 years that the award has been given out, but only twice in the history of the Awards & Honors event has an act led by an artist of color won a voter-decided awards: Alabama Shakes in 2012 for Emerging Artist of the Year and The Mavericks in 2015 for Best Duo/Group of the Year.”
Don’t expect much change, as diversity and inclusion move at glacial speed. If you’d like to see this year’s list of nominees for awards and honors, here’s the link. I love the idea of a big concert and showcase night to celebrate Americana music, but also wish that they’d toss the whole award process out the window. There’s so much great music that gets released each year that it seems self-defeating for the promotion and growth of the genre to limit exposure to basically a handful of artists. The “big tent” concept of Americana music seems more like a six-person lean-to for the mostly Nashville-based voting members.
I’ve taken a look at the list of performers this year who haven’t been nominated for awards, and expect that they will offer up some sizzling sets; the talent pool is Olympic-sized. Here’s a few clips for y’all. Maybe I’ll start saving my money to travel down to Nashville for next year’s 20th anniversary.
The Milk Carton Kids
Birds of Chicago
The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
The Earls of Leicester
Many of my past columns, articles, and essays can be accessed at my own site, therealeasyed.com. I also aggregate news and videos on both Flipboardand Facebook as The Real Easy Ed: Americana and Roots Music Daily. My Twitter handle is @therealeasyed and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.