Americana Music Festival returns to Nashville

Robert Cray in concert in Austin Texas, March 4, 2007. (Photo by Steve Hopson)

Robert Cray in concert in Austin Texas, March 4, 2007. (Photo by Steve Hopson)

The 18th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference will take place Tuesday, September 12 through Sunday, September 17, 2017, gathering thousands of artists, fans, and industry professionals from all over the world in Nashville, TN. It promises to be the must – attend event for anyone who loves the melting pot of Americana’s influences including roots, folk, country, blues and soul-based music. Each year, AMERICANAFEST℠ brings together legendary artists, the next generation of rising stars, fans, and industry professionals for six days of celebration through seminars, panels and networking opportunities by day and raw, intimate showcases each night.

The conference portion features numerous panels, seminars, exclusive day time performances, and much more, proudly providing Nashville’s most educational music industry forum. This special event covers the interests and needs of artists, managers, labels, radio stations, publishers, agents, promoters, retailers, legal and business affairs executives, merchandisers and new media professionals – all enthusiastically attended and presented by music industry leaders. You do not have to be a member of the Americana Music Association℠ or in the music industry to purchase a conference registration and attend all the events. All music lovers are encouraged to be apart of the conference experience.

Almost 300 artists are scheduled to play this critically acclaimed festival in Nashville, including Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm, Drive-By Truckers, Iron & Wine, Joan Osborne and Turnpike TroubadoursDave Alvin, Jamtown, Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer, Leyla McCalla, Colter Wall, Lee Ann Womack & Friends, the Blackfoot Gypsies, and many more.

If you choose not to be a part of the entire AMERICANAFEST℠ experience through a conference registration, then the festival wristband is the option for you. For six nights, AMERICANAFEST℠ will feature more than 230 live performances at almost 40 of Nashville’s most prominent venues and much, much, more. However, wristbands do not guarantee entry if venue is at capacity. In the event of a line, conference registrants have priority access. If there is a must-see band on your list plan on arriving to the venue early.

The Americana Music Association℠ will present esteemed accolades to Robert Cray, Iris DeMent, Hi Rhythm, Van Morrison, Graham Nash and HighTone Founders Larry Sloven and Bruce Bromberg at the Americana’s 16th Annual Honors & Awards in celebration of their creative impact. Held at the Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday, September 13, the prestigious event serves as the official kick-off for the 18th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference.

“We are proud and humbled to honor these artists whose work has shaped what we not only call Americana today, but the musical landscape on the whole,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association℠. “We are inspired by their work and excited to see them all as they will honor us in song at the Ryman this fall.”

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance will go to Robert Cray. Cray has been bridging the lines between blues, soul and R&B for over four decades with five GRAMMY® wins. After bursting onto the scene as band leader for the Robert Cray Band in 1974, he and his band became responsible for bringing the timeless soul sound of their mentors John Lee Hooker, Etta James and Albert Collins to a younger audience. Throughout his expansive career, he has performed with the likes of Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, BB King, Bonnie Raitt and the late Chuck Berry. His latest album Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm (Jay-Vee Records) was produced by Steve Jordan at the historic Royal Studios in Memphis, Tenn.

Iris DeMent will be receiving the Americana Trailblazer Award and exemplifies what it means to forge your own path in the music industry. Her independently released 1992 debut Infamous Angel garnered such palpable buzz that it landed her a deal with Warner Bros. the following year without any support from mainstream country radio. Over the next two decades, DeMent never shied away from using her ethereal voice and songwriting craft to showcase introspection as well as to address more political topics such as sexual abuse, religion and government policy throughout her work.

The Hi Rhythm section, this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist, is not your average group of musicians. During the ’70s, they served as the late producer Willie Mitchell’s secret weapon for his vision of Memphis soul, providing their incomparable musicianship for hit Hi Records albums by artists like Al Green and Ann Peebles at the historic Royal Studios in Memphis, Tenn. Originally formed in the late ’60s, members include the late Mabon “Teenie” Hodges (guitar), Rev. Charles Hodges (organ), LeRoy “Flick” Hodges (bass), Howard Grimes (drums), the late Al Jackson, Jr. (drums) and Archie “Hubbie” Turner (keyboard).

Co-presented by the First Amendment Center, this year’s Spirit of Americana Free Speech in Music Award will be presented to Graham Nash. A two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee for his roles as a member of the Hollies and supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash (and later Young), the GRAMMY® Award-winning singer’s passionate voice continues to be heard in support of peace and social and environmental justice. The No Nukes/Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) concerts he organized with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt in 1979 remain seminal benefit events. In 2011, Nash was instrumental in bringing MUSE back to the forefront with a concert to benefit Japan disaster relief and groups promoting non-nuclear energy worldwide.

HighTone Records founders Larry Sloven and Bruce Bromberg are the recipients of the Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive. In the mid-’80s, these industry partners bonded over their wide-ranging roots music tastes and sought out an opportunity to create a label home for the melting pot of influences that is now Americana music. Artistic freedom was imperative to their business model from day one, and it made all the difference in providing a liberating platform for artists who have paved the way in Americana such as The Blasters, Big Sandy, Buddy Miller and more. For 25 years, HighTone Records produced 300 album releases and a number of landmark achievements including the release of the first and longest running #1 Americana Radio Airplay album, Tulare Dust: A Songwriter’s Tribute to Merle Haggard, and even a GRAMMY® Award for Dale Alvin’s King of California.

Van Morrison will be receiving the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, as previously announced. After establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in his British R&B group Them in the late ’60s, the six-time GRAMMY® Award winner’s unparalleled songwriting talents and evocative vocal delivery have pioneered his legendary career spanning over four decades. From the Sinatra-like soul of Moondance to the country-inflected Tupelo Honey, Morrison’s myriad of influences are equally matched by his consistency as an artist, leading his work to transcend generations upon generations to come.

Tickets for the 16th annual Americana Honors & Awards are made available for purchase with an AMERICANAFEST℠ conference registration, available online. The award show is the association’s hallmark event, taking place during the week of AMERICANAFEST℠. For more, go to their website: http://americanamusic.org/

The Americana Music Association, Voices of a People’s History and War Memorial Auditorium present The People Sing! on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, at 7:30 p.m., a separately ticketed event taking place on the opening night of the critically-acclaimed AMERICANAFEST℠: The Americana Music Festival & Conference. Tickets start at $35 and are available now at WMArocks.com, by phone at 615-782-4030, and in person at the TPAC Box Office, 505 Deaderick St., in downtown Nashville.

The People Sing! brings to life the extraordinary history of ordinary people engaged in struggles for freedom and justice in the United States. This unique event, featuring performances by Allison Moorer, Hayes Carll, Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, Alice Randall, Joe Henry, Teddy Thompson, Otis Taylor, Elizabeth Cook, Shelby Lynne, Blind Boys of Alabama, Rhiannon Giddens, Billy Bragg, Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and more, gives public expression to rebels, dissenters and visionaries to educate and inspire a new generation of people working for social justice.

Voices of a People’s History of the United States is a non-profit organization which builds on the work of historian Howard Zinn (1922–2010) to bring to light little-known voices from U.S. history, including those of women, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants and laborers.

By involving celebrated actors, musicians, and public figures in performances, Voices inspires audiences to delve more deeply into historical texts and to see history as a lively, relevant and contemporary subject, not just a matter of books sitting on the shelf. The organization also works with teachers and educators to develop resources for the teaching and exploration of history and with theaters, actors and artists interested in history.

To find out about Voices of a People’s History, visit https://peopleshistory.us, or follow on Facebook and Twitter.