If there’s one thing we have plenty of in Nashville, it’s excellent music festivals. And I’ll be the last to complain. Whether you’re drawn toward country, rock, pop, bluegrass or beyond, you’ll easily find a fest that perfectly suits you — probably several.
If Americana’s your preference, the Americana Music Festival & Conference, AmericanaFest, is your annual must-hit event. And it’s coming up next month.
From September 20-25, an army of more than 200 roots-rooted acts will take stages at 14 venues across Nashville, with the Americana Honors & Awards show at the Ryman celebrating the contributions of the best of them, right in the middle of things, on September 21.
I love that the AmericanaFest brings heroes and legends and longtime favorites out for much-deserved celebration. But one of my favorite things about the fest every year is how it encourages us to look toward the future, at rising stars in the making.
Here’s a quick playlist of my first round, with some big press to back up why I think their stars are rising.
Rising stars to catch at the 2016 AmericanaFest
Aaron Lee Tasjan
After spending time as a sideman for Elizabeth Cook and others, the East Nashville singer-songwriter is making big waves with a “mix of cosmic cowboy folk-rock and acid-influenced pop.”
Latest release: Silver Tears, 2016 (out in October)
Rolling Stone says: “(Silver Tears has) a wide-ranging tracklist, recorded by a cult favorite who, after spending years balancing his own songwriting career with a handful of gigs in other singer's bands, is long overdue for his official breakthrough.”
A rising Nashville solo artist with a powerful, soulful voice who’s performed and recorded with the likes of Jack White, Norah Jones and Beyonce.
Latest release:Standing Still, 2015
Billboard says:“Her 2015 album, Standing Still, which featured production by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney and covers of originals by Bob Dylan and Kanye West, solidified her as one of Nashville’s most beautiful, and most underappreciated, voices.”
A 25-year-old New England Conservatory of Music-trained bluegrass and folk artist who’s already earned multiple Grammy nominations.
Latest release: Undercurrent, 2016
NPR says:“Jarosz's music and image aren't conservative, per se, but her roots are traditional. She's a prodigiously talented mandolin and banjo player, and her first major single was an adaptation of the Edgar Allen Poe poem ’Annabel Lee.’”
A powerful East Nashville-based belter, Potenza came to wider notoriety via a strong showing on TV singing competition The Voice in 2015.
Latest release: Monster, 2016 (out August 19)
No Depression says:“With her primary influences being Lucinda Williams and R&B great Charles Bradley, her view of Americana music comes from artists who are great in songcraft and who are ready to engage in funk- soul-inspired music.”
A young songwriter brought up on the country music tradition of evocative and powerful storytelling.
Latest release: The Very Last Day, 2016
Rolling Stone says:“Oklahoma native Millsap, at the still-prodigy age of 21, is following in the footsteps of Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and perhaps even the short-story master Flannery O'Connor.”
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