The 2015 edition of the Americana Music Festival is just over two weeks away, being held Sept. 15-20 in venues throughout the Nashville area, and fans have over 150 bands to choose select from, a daunting task for even the most dedicated Americana music fan. Inevitably, someone you want to see will be playing in a venue all the way across town from someone else you want to see. In this series leading up to Americanafest 2015, we’ll profile some of the highest profile acts in a number of categories to help with your tough decisions.
First up is the legends. For a festival with such a low price point, Americanafest manages to snag an impressive list of legendary artists every year. 2015 is no different, with this year’s legends ranging from Latin rock pioneers to country superstars to songwriting titans.
JD Souther- Tue. Sept 15 at City Winery
If you mention the name JD Souther to a casual music fan, they probably won’t know who he is, much less categorize him as a legend. But his name appears all over the songwriting credits of one of the best selling albums of all time, “The Eagles Greatest Hits.” Souther wrote or co-wrote some of the Eagles most iconic radio songs, including “New Kid in Town”, “Heartache Tonight”, and “Victim of Love.” Souther has also penned hits for the likes of Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt. Live, Souther’s stories about the process of writing his songs are almost as entertaining as the songs themselves and fans of pure master songwriting will be sure to make JD Souther’s show at City Winery’s Americanafest kickoff party a priority.
Los Lobos- Wed. Sept 16 at Cannery Ballroom
Over the years, Americanafest has proven that Americana music draws genres from a number of nationalities and ethnicities. This year, nowhere is that more apparent than with Los Lobos. The Los Angeles based Grammy winning group and 2015 AMA Lifetime Achievement honorees has made a career of blending more traditional Americana influences like country and folk with rock, soul, and traditional Mexican musical genres. Now entering their fourth decade as a group, Los Lobos hasn’t slowed down a bit. Their high energy live shows still pack plenty of punch and their underlying Latin rhythm ensures that attendees will be dancing along throughout.
Ricky Skaggs, Sharon White, and Ry Cooder- Thurs. Sept. 17 at 3rd and Lindsley
Why have just one legend on stage when you can have three. That’s the deal at 3rd and Lindsley on Sept. 17. Bluegrass superstar Ricky Skaggs alone would make for a packed house. As the standard bearer of the neo-traditionalist movement in bluegrass, Skaggs has filled venues like the Ryman Auditorium as well as drawing huge crowds at diverse festivals such as Bonnaroo and Telluride. Joining Skaggs on stage will be his wife Sharon White, who is no musical slouch in her own right. As lead singer of The Whites, Sharon White was one of the biggest hitmakers in traditional country and gospel vocals since the ’80s. Rounding out the trio is guitar hero Ry Cooder. Considered one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Cooder is also someone who isn’t afraid to bend a few genres. Over the years, he has collaborated with the likes of Flaco Jimenez, Taj Mahal, and The Chieftains just to name a few.
Glen Hansard- Fri. Sept. 18 at Cannery Ballroom
Rocker Glen Hansard surprised a few people when he was a last minute addition to the Americanafest lineup, but it shouldn’t surprise his fans. Hansard has been anything but a fixed musical point since he emerged on the music scene in 1990 with Irish alt-rockers The Frames. Since that time, Hansard has spent time with folk-rock duo The Swell Season, contributing music to films like “The Hunger Games” and television series like “Parenthood” and producing a musical theater adaptation of his film “Once.” Hansard’s new solo album, “Didn’t He Ramble”, is set to hit the streets the night of his Americana Music Festival performance, making this show his album release party.
Loretta Lynn- Sat. Sept. 19 at Ascend Amphitheater
What needs to be said about Loretta Lynn that hasn’t already been written. The 2014 Americana Music Award Lifetime Achievement honoree is known as “The Queen of Country Music” for a reason. No female artist in country history has been more decorated and few radio-friendly country artists are as revered by the typically radio-averse Americana music fanbase as much as Lynn. While churning out country staples like “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, Lynn was also hitting subjects other country artists avoided, such as family planning, divorce, and the Vietnam War. Her work paved the way not only for the current generation of Americana artists but for country-crossover stars like Kacey Musgraves, whose “Follow Your Arrow” could have never been made without “The Pill” and “Don’t Come Home Drinking” to blaze the trail. Lynn is the headliner at the Americana Music Festival’s Saturday concert at Ascend Amphitheater. The show is ticketed separately from the festival itself, meaning Americanafest attendees will need to purchase an additional ticket and locals not attending Americanafest can get a one-night taste of the genre.
You can buy wristbands for the Americana Music Festival for $60 here. You can buy a ticket to the show at Ascend Amphitheater, which includes not only Lynn but also Gillian Welch, Steve Earle, and more, here.