So just what is this 'Americana' music?
Basically, Americana is Country Music. Hold on! Wait! Don't go
clicking away yet!
We're not talking here about the cliches of Line Dancing,
Stetsons and songs about losing Wife, Dawg and Car (not
necessarily in that order).
What we're talking about is music with attitude, whether that be
protest songs, introspective ballads or just plain old bad-ass
hell-raising good time music - country yes, but Americana is
also rock, blues, traditional bluegrass and even soul. Music
without boundaries, held together by a common thread of realism,
honesty and heart.
You like Springsteen and Neil Young? Well, Steve Earle is
probably the most high profile name in Americana. If you're a
fan of The Boss and Neil Young in equal measures and you haven't
come across the phenomena that is Steve Earle then do yourself a
favour and get hold of 'Guitar Town' or 'Copperhead Road' and
see what you've been missing.
A whole new generation of singer-songwriters influenced by
pre-'Achy, Breaky Heart' country music are making their mark
today, inspired by another anti-hero Townes Van Zandt (a better
songwriter than Dylan, many would say). And don't think
Americana music is a closed-shop club of world-weary men. Take a
listen to Tift Merritt as an example of a young girl with vocals
as soulful and powerful as Aretha, or Patty Griffin, who can
fell a person at fifty feet with her soaring vocals and incisive
lyrics, and can blow you away with the hardest rocking
alternative guitar music around.
So you don't want deep and introspective? Okay, Shooter Jennings
might be just up your street - the son of Waylon, Shooter has
hung out with Guns'n'Roses and obviously listened to Ted Nugent
as a kid. Good time music, next generation. Take a listen on a
road trip and you'll be singing along. Guaranteed.
Americana has its own association, and it is close to having its
own Billboard chart. But Americana is independent; the Americana
Music Association could just as easily have been named the
Awkward Musicians Association. It is a free spirit, embraces all
comers and loves the diversity of the dobro, mandolin, Les Paul
and Stratocaster. It is conservative and liberal in equal
measures and pretty darn hard to pin down.
In 2005 the Americana Music Association celebrated its 4th
annual Honors and Awards ceremony which was held for the first
time at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville Tennessee, the
spiritual home of Country Music. The AMA is happy to co-exist
with the Country Music Association, but where the CMA Awards are
a glitzy, showbiz affair, the AMA Awards are more down home,
more real. Heck, they even have a 'Freedom of Speech' award.
Americana music is deserving of your attention. The Americana
Music Association is run by people who care deeply about the
music, about its influence and about retaining the true spirit
of traditional music and traditional values. Yes, we love our
Country Music and our singer-songwriters and our Texan
attitudes, but you won't find any inverted snobbery about
Shania, Tim or Faith.
So, enough words ... track down the music and judge for