photo: Martina Chavez
photo: Americana Music Association
The thirteenth annual Americana Music Festival & Conference returns to Nashville September 12–15. Produced by the locally based Americana Music Association, this hybrid of business conference and music festival brings together industry professionals, artists, and fans for a multi-level experience: registered conference attendees who are interested in the business side of Americana gather for various panel discussions and workshops during the day; over the course of the four nights, conference goers and fans gather for the festival portion of the event, which, in addition to hosting the annual AMA awards show at the Ryman, showcases over one hundred artists in select Nashville venues.
It’s not about what’s hip, or what’s cool; but what’s honest, what’s real, and what’s great music.
Upon assuming his role, Hilly suggested the name of the event be changed: what was formerly known as the AMA Conference would now become the AMA Music Festival and Conference. “I said that if we build something that is dependent or reliant on the music industry we will die quickly . . . it was that movement that doubled our festival attendance . . . a subtle shift, but the word ‘festival’ is festive, is inclusive, while ‘conference’ is exclusive, is about business.” Attendance has increased from 5,600 to photo: Americana Music Association
Stinson and his audience have likely heard the term “Americana” by now. What was once a rough-and-tumble stepchild standing at the back door of the music business has come into its own, with acts (Rosanne Cash, Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers, et al.) now selling six figures— no simple feat in the non-proprietary Internet culture, where a lot more music is heard but much less purchased.
Jed Hilly, in his sixth year as executive director of the AMA, prefers “community” to “genre” when describing the music and the artists who create it. “[What amazes me] is watching Grace Potter look at Levon Helm playing drums. Levon’s head going off to the gods when listening to Mike Farris sing. Having Emmylou [Harris] sit down and tell me about a band called Low Anthem . . . this appreciation that goes beyond the age demographic: it’s not about what’s hip or what’s cool, but what’s honest, what’s real, and what’s great music.”
Levon Helm, Buddy Miller and Sheryl Crow
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