Four nights, nine music venues, 165 live performances—the Americana Music Fest invades downtown Nashville on Sept. 17 for a smorgasbord of sound that’s unmatched in roots music.
It officially gets underway with the 2014 Americana Honors & Awards on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the Ryman Auditorium with Jason Isbell, Rosanne Cash and Robert Ellis leading nominations and goes through the weekend with hours of music.
While it’s impossible to see every show (you’d need the ability to time warp), CW editors Jon Freeman and Jim Casey share their must-see pick for each night.
If you’ve ever been to a Todd show, you know the consummate entertainer likes to spin a good yarn onstage. In fact, he’s been known to, as he says, “go on for as many as 18 minutes in between the songs.” But that’s what makes Todd’s shows so unique—that, and he doesn’t wear shoes while playing.
Lindi Ortega: City Winery, 12 a.m.
It’s all late-night shows after the Americana Honors & Awards. While Sturgill Simpson will likely be the big draw at 11 p.m., stick around for the haunting lullabies of Lindi Ortega, the Canadian siren who sings of deadly obsession and heartbreak in a gorgeously pure voice. Sweet dreams!
Gregory Alan Isakov: Third Man, 9 p.m.
Musician. Singer. Songwriter. Performer. Gregory is the total package onstage. He’s been making music for more than a decade, traveling the globe like Caine in Kung Fu and honing his ethereal sound.
Parker Millsap: Mercy Lounge, 10 p.m.
At the tender age of 21, Oklahoma native Parker wails with all the ragged anguish of some long-lost Delta bluesman and writes fascinating tunes about the peculiar religious ceremonies that take place at America’s truck stops.
3rd & Lindsley, 9 p.m.
Other than Robert Earl Keen, there’s not a finer wordsmith representative of the Texas scene right now. Hayes’ songs roll off his tongue like poetry in motion, with the romanticism, fragility and style of a true troubadour.
J.D. is a beloved roots music figure who previously fronted the group the Legendary Shack Shakers, and with his new group he’s been infusing his distinct Southern Gothic outlook into a whole variety of American musical styles guaranteed to get you swaying.
Steep Canyon Rangers: 3rd & Lindsley, 11 p.m.
The bluegrass brood Steep Canyon Rangers is taking the genre to new heights. With a 2013 Grammy under their belt, the crafty songwriters and virtuosic musicians deliver a live performance that is simply mesmerizing.
If we were going to put money on who might have big breakout in the next few months, it would be singer/songwriter Lera Lynn. The Nashvillian via Georgia has a voice that can sing anything and make it sound important, but thankfully her songs carry the weight of life experience with all its joys and disappointments.