Photography by Kenny Schick – Kenny is a music producer, engineer, singer songwriter & professional photographer, living in Nashville TN (from the Bay Area CA) (see more photos here)
Americanafest and Conference has been held in September in Nashville Tennessee for the past 19 years – 6 days of music for both fans and the music industry.
There are venues all over the city that partake in hosting legendary artists and the next generation of rising stars in intimate settings; there is a LOT going on!
As part of our business, we attend several conferences and events every year; to make connections, attend panels, learn about industry trends, get inspired and glean new ideas for our business. All of these events are worthwhile and inspiring in some ways for sure, but Americanafest turned out to be a very different beast. Yes, there were panels, and meet ups all over the city, and opportunities to meet new people and learn, but also, this event centered around the music itself much more than other conferences and really top notch music and top artists/performers from all over the globe!
Conference panels had total industry giants like KD Lang, Mary Gauthier, Brandi Carlile, & Tommy Emmanuel. The panel / interview with KD Lang interviewed by NPR’s Ann Powers was particularly inspiring as she really gets to the heart of what it means to be an artist, a human, and and individual within the industry. Mary Gauthier’s interview about her album ‘Rifles and Rosary Beads’ and her work with Songwriting With Soldiers was equally inspiring (interviewed by LA Times Randy Lewis).
There were so many performances that blew our socks off as well and really reminded us what great song writing and performance is all about. Americanafest was full of artists who really dig deep and push their craft to outstanding levels. I can’t recommend this event enough to artists who need an injection of inspiration, or simply to fans of really great music.
The first performance we saw at the BMI (opening party on their rooftop) by the mighty War And Treaty, who were discovered at Americanafest a few years back – they set the pace for the week. Another highlight was the dreamy I’m With Her, the trio Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan at the City Winery – we all crammed in to see them.
Americana Awards Show
We are so glad we also decided to go to the Americana Music Honors and Awards show at the beautiful Ryman Theater, this year it was hosted by The Milk Carton Kids who were SO funny and performed a song they wrote for the night ‘What is Americana?’). It shone pretty brightly in there with all those stars in the audience and on stage. We were treated to outstanding performances by Courtney Marie Andrews, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Irma Thomas, Buddy Guy, Margo Price, and KD Lang.
We crammed into to the Mercy Lounge, Cannery Ballroom or High Watt and caught many great artists there, including Fantastic Negrito. As it was pretty packed there a lot, we chose smaller venues and saw Creamer at the 5 Spot and dashed over to The Local to see the jazzy/americana Kaia Kater. We missed some of War and Treaty’s set at the Cannery Ballroom to catch the quirky Marc Ribot upstairs at the High Watt and we laughed with Bob Boilen (NPR’s Tiny Desk host and creator) that it was really pushing the already loose boundaries of ‘Americana’.
Inspiring Artists from all over the world
Australia was represented by the amazing artists featured by Sounds Australia (The Winnie Blues, (you can check out photos from their gig at The Bowery Vault), Wilsn, Tom West, The Weeping Willows, Ruby Boots, Catherine Britt, Josh Rennie-Hynes, Fanny Lumsden, Tommy Emmanuel, Brian Cadd). There was so much to remind me why music captured my heart and spirit so many decades ago. We ended the week feeling as much inspired as we were exhausted. Next year we’ll be more prepared and know our way around better to perhaps fit more in, but we got way more than we even expected to.
Yes you should definitely go next year
Go check out the line up at th Americana Assocation website – there are so many great artists – many we didn’t get a chance to see which we were bummed about. Thank goodness for their great app which helped organize us. If you’ve never been and you love music, you will love every moment of it. If you don’t want to go to the conference you can just get a wrist band to see all the music as that gets you into all the venues (unless stated they are for conference guests only).
Bob Boilen has a great book out called ‘Your Song Changed My Life’. Happy to see a lot of my favorite music discussed! (audible version, hard cover & ebook). We bought the audio book – coz it’s really cool when the author reads it.
Become a member of Americana Association if you’re an artist/musician/songwriter join here http://www.americanamusic.org You’ll need to become a member to attend the conference and the awards show.
There is also an association in the UK – AmericanaUK – they also have a huge awards show and have many community events – https://americana-uk.com/
If you’d like any of the photo’s as high rez let me know EMAIL