What is Americana music? With the rootsy sound of 500 Americana Festival performances pouring out of at almost 60 Nashville venues from now until September 15th, it’s time to figure out what Americana music is.
There’s an awards show tonight at The Ryman and you can listen to the full awards program will be streamed live online (via NPR Music) and broadcast on the radio (100.1-FM WRLT, 89.5-FM WMOT and 650-AM WSM). Based on past award winners (Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit won three of the awards in 2018 and Johnny Cash won three awards in 2003), the voters know what Americana music is when they hear it but that doesn’t help describe it. The sound is broad (country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues) with roots in acoustic music but often played with a full electric band. The genre is an inclusive, mellifluous miscellany of singers, songwriters and instrumentalists. It is a reaction to restrictive, curmudgeonly gatekeepers of country music (just ask L’il Nas X if country is welcoming) who have decided that pop/bro country is the current sound of country. To figure it out for yourself, listen to Americana Music Association® playlists of this year’s performers and go to Grimey’s Americanarama XII on Saturday. To help you decide what shows to go to Nashville Scene created a quick-reference guide to AmericanaFest 2019.