Americanafest: Nashville Celebrates National Americana Month (Day 1 Recap)

September is National Americana Month

The registrar of National Day Calendar selected Visit Franklin’s proposal to declare September as National Americana Month out of more than 30,000 submissions for national recognition in 2016. While communities across the nation are encouraged to join Franklin in celebrating all things Americana, Middle Tennessee is becoming a hot spot for the heart of Americana with the Americana Music Association’s Americana Music Festival & Conference (Americanafest) that is held every September in Nashville.

AmericanaFest brings together legendary artists, the next generation of rising stars, fans and industry professionals for six days of music and education with more than 230 live performances in 40 different venues. This year’s festivities were September 12th – 17th.

18th Annual AmericanaFest Kick-Off (Tuesday, Sept 12th)

On Tuesday, September 12, 2017, AmericanaFest kicked off at The Basement and Grimey’s New & Preloved Music. They had a live broadcast of WMOT Roots Radio’s Jessie Scott Show and performances by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Joana Serrat, Joseph Huber, The Steel Woods, Jesse Dayton and Zach Schmidt. While that was the official kick-off party, there were several other Americana events happening around town as well.

 

City Winery Backstage Portrait Photo Exhibition. #SeanMcConnel pondering his own image. Photo Credit: Jeff Fasano Photography, Revealing the Soul’s Essence | jefffasano.com

Jenni Finlay Promotions, Eight 30 Records and Catfish Concerts presented performances by Grammy nominated James McMurtry, Americana radio charting Tim Easton, Grammy nominated Kim Richey, Mando Saenz and more at City Winery Nashville. During the show there was also a Backstage Portrait Retrospective photo exhibit by Jeff Fasano. Jeff has built a formidable career capturing images of notable musicians, actors, and artists around the world. This particular exhibit showcased intimate backstage portraits of an array of artists who have performed at City Winery Nashville since opening in 2014.

 

While there was a collaboration of art and music happening at City Winery, over in Green Hills at the Bluebird Cafe Sounds Australia and Blundstone presented the 8th Annual Australiana at Americana show. With 40+ Australian artist playing in iconic Nashville venues throughout the week promoting incredible music coming from the other side of the globe, Australiana at Americana kicked it all off. The event was hosted by Dobe Newton and featured four unique sets of artists that included All Our Exes Live in Texas, Andy Golledge and Taasha Coates. Sounds Australia is the lead contemporary music industry initiative, created to provide a platform from which to further the profile and promotion of Australian artists and music businesses around the world, at key industry showcase events.

Cody Brooks, Americanafest 2017. Photo Credit: BucketHead.Media

Razor & Tie Music showcased a few of their artists including Christian Lopez, and Cody Brooks. Christian Lopez translates the iconic America before him into rousing romps and searing serenades employing crisp and thoughtful imagery and storytelling. Lopez is turning traditional songwriting on its head. Lopez takes listeners on a heartfelt rampage through emotion, energy and excitement caring less about the hook then hooking them in with the range and passion in his voice. One moment the music traverses the depths of one’s interior life and the next it rips the listener into a frenzy – a call to stomp, romp and roll. Cody Brooks is a Nashville native and is known for his passionate style that sprawls across all genres and emotions, Cody’s presence while performing is raw and captivating. His unique blend of American music with southern roots has gained him a reputation as a genuine article to today’s music industry.

BMI kicked off the week with a “Rooftop on the Row” patio celebration of live music presented by George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. Featured performances included Hurray for the Riff Raff, Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers and SUSTO. The event was also sponsored by Wrangler, Texas Roadhouse and Yeti.

Americana songwriters were not forgotten on kickoff night. Will Kimbrough and AXEcess Entertainment Agency held a back-porch singer-songwriter presentation southern-Alabama-style. The show was held at Fond Object Records in East Nashville and featured musical collaborations such as The Red Dirt Boys consisting of Phil Madeira, Chris Donohue and Bryan Owings, Daddy Tommy Womack and more. They even had Donato’s slinging pies.

There was even celebrations of albums like Big Star’Third at Cannery Ballroom. It was the first time performed in its entirety in Nashville. It featured the original Third conductor Carl Marsh and sole surviving Big Star member Jody Stephens along with Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Mitch Easter (Let’s Active), Chris Stamey (the dB’s) and Pat Sansone (Wilco). This performance was on the heels of the concert film screening at Belcourt Theatre the night prior.

Speaking of Belcourt Theatre, Old Crow Medicine Show presented 50 years of Blonde On Blonde The Concert: World Premiere Screening kick off night. Last year, to mark the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde, the GRAMMY award-winning group performed Dylan’s classic album in its entirety at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The event coincided with the exhibit that explored Dylan’s time in Nashville – “Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City” (Exhibit is open until February 18, 2018). The concert film was released on September 15th on Columbia Nashville Records. Directed by Lee Tucker, the 14 song DVD includes performances of “Just Like A Woman,” “I Want You,” and “Rainy Day Women #12 & #35,” in the way Old Crow knows how to do it, with high octane passion and excitement. Marty Stuart welcomed the crowd and introduced the screening.

Over at War Memorial Auditorium, Voices of a People’s History Presented The People Sing! The People Sings builds on the work of historian Howard Zinn to bring to like the extraordinary history of ordinary people engaged in struggles for freedom and justice in the United States. The event focused on public expression to rebels, dissenters and visionaries, in an effort to educate and inspire a new generation of people working for social justice. The evening performances included Allison Moorer, Hayes Carll, Joe Henry, Teddy Thompson, Otis Taylor, Shelby Lynne, Blind Boys of Alabama, Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, Rhiannon Giddens, Gretchen Peters and more.

A few other note worthy events included The 5 Spot’s $2 Tuesday with Michaela Anne, Derek Hoke and more; Honky Tonk Tuesday at American Legion with Leslie Tom and Amanda Contreras; and The Mavericks at The Basement East.