AmericanaFest 2016 may be wrapping up, but more than ever, we took this year’s gathering as a battery-charger and an inspiring star map for what lies ahead. Hearing kind words about our new Roots Radio initiative on WMOT 89.5 FM certainly helped rev our enthusiasm from high to higher for the prospects of sharing and spreading the music and the stories of its makers. I had an interesting but sobering experience on the weekend teaching a seminar about the origins and legacy of Music City to a group of 50 adult learners enrolled at Bethel University. These were folks from outside our industry/music nerd circles, but I was surprised to survey them and learn that ZERO of them had heard of the concept of “Americana” music. Yet this is music for everyone. It’s our shared, connecting heritage in a divisive time, so I took this as a personal challenge.
Due to the unique time crunch of AMA week, I offer my annual condensed survey of last week’s action and this week’s show, which looks just splendid with an MCR debut by Austin “Ameri-Chicana” fiddler/singer Carrie Rodriquez and a celebrated blues guitar slinger. But as I sit quietly thinking about these recent days, I’m swimming in the echoes of some absurdly excellent performances: William Bell singing “The Three of Me” at the Honors & Awards show with staggering grace and candor, Aaron Lee Tasjan’s psychedelic country glam and River Whyless (MCR alums) playing sparkling, surprise-filled alt-folk.
And of course we threw a showcase on Thursday and couldn’t have been happier with our roster.