The Americana Music Festival, which will take place Sept. 18-22 in clubs throughout Nashville, has dropped its biggest lineup of stars yet. The Americana Showcase performers include dozens of artists ranging from well established genre luminaries to some of the hottest young bands in Americana music.
While the full schedule with venues is still to come, you can expect tons of agonizing conflicts as you choose which venue to spend your evening at. In this series, we’ll feature some of the acts that we consider the cream of a very strong Americana crop. We’ll begin with the legendary artists. From Lifetime Achievement Award winners to Americanafest fan favorites, these artists are all sure to bring the goods.
After receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at last year’s Americana Music Awards, British folk legend Richard Thompson connected with producer Buddy Miller at his home studio to record “Electric”, Thompson’s most critically acclaimed album in a decade. Since then he’s been relentlessly touring as the Richard Thompson Electric Trio, wowing audiences with his strong songwriting and jaw dropping guitar skills. You never know who may show up at a Richard Thompson show, so this one is ripe for guest sit ins.
Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale
If any two people signify Americana music, it would be Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale. After being the musical faces of the Americana Festival for years, the two friends finally paired up for a show, their first ever, at Americanafest 2011. They’ve since gone on to record an album together and host a radio show on Sirius XM. Their show is sure to be packed to the gills and a laugh riot. Neither of these guys take themselves too seriously and it makes for a fun show.
At age 77, Bobby Rush is the elder statesman of this year’s crop of Americana legends. The blues showman has been a fixture on the scene since the 1950s and is considered one of the forerunners in blending blues, soul, rhythm and blues, and even elements of rap into his performances. Rush is still going strong and still gigging regularly. His set is sure to be the best place to get your dance on.
A fixture on the Texas blues and Americana scene since the early 1970s, Delbert McClinton has become a cult favorite whose legion of loyal fans made him one of the earliest artists to adopt the themed cruise wave. His Sandy Beaches cruise has served as both a template for other artists wanting to follow similar paths and a launching pad for smaller name acts who have found stardom supporting him on his voyages. His current album, “Blind, Crippled, and Crazy” brings him back together with long time friend Glen Clark.
Donna the Buffalo
If your tastes in Americana music run more toward the jam side of things, you’ll want to be sure to catch Donna the Buffalo at Americanafest. But get to the venue early. Their rabid fanbase, who call themselves “The Herd”, is known for showing up en masse for Donna The Buffalo’s numerous festival appearances. Various members of Donna the Buffalo have collaborated with about half the Americana community and this is a great bet for star watchers and those hoping for unannounced collaborations.
Without Johnny Cash, there would be no Americana music and his daughter Rosanne Cash has been embraced by the Americana Music Festival community both for her projects honoring her father’s legacy, such as her album “The List”, and her own hitmaking solo work. Cash is a big get for an Americana Showcase and her show is sure to be packed.
Phil Madeira not only produced one of the best albums of 2012 with “Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us”, he also ran away with the most memorable show at last year’s Americana Music Festival, with a Mercyland showcase at the Downtown Presbyterian Church that featured everyone from Buddy Miller to Emmylou Harris to North Mississippi Allstars. His semi-regular Mercyland shows at The Station Inn have become a stopping point for numerous local Americana superstars during tour breaks. We don’t know what Madeira has in store for Americanafest 2013, but we have a feeling anyone who misses it will be kicking themselves for years to come.
Who are your must-see legends at Americanafest 2013? Let us know in the comments section.