Just two weeks after announcing the nominees for their 2017 Honors and Awards ceremony, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award and performance from rock legend Van Morrison, the Americana Music Association has unveiled the initial lineup for the accompanying Americana Music Festival and Conference. The 103 artists revealed on the initial list, less than half of the over 200 scheduled to appear, includes a mix of Americana favorites, genre legends, rising stars and international Americana representatives.
Heading up Americanafest 2017 will be 2015 Best New Artist Grammy nominee Brandy Clark. Clark's credits as a songwriter include music recorded by numerous Top 40 country and Americana acts. In recent years, she has found recognition for her own darkly humorous albums. Joining Clark at the top of the Americanafest lineup is John Paul White. Formerly one-half of The Civil Wars, White has successfully relaunched his solo career since that band's dissolve and has been a popular collaborator with a number of Americana favorites.
Those looking for Americanafest's usual slate of living legends have plenty to dig into as well. Multi-time Americana Music Award winner Rodney Crowell is set to perform an Americana Showcase. Also in the bill is 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award nominee and the man dubbed “Mr. Americana” by fans for his outspoken advocacy for the festival, Jim Lauderdale. Other legends performing include country-soul vocalist Bettye LaVette, and pioneering black gospel vocal group Blind Boys of Alabama.
Returning Americanafest favorites abound as well. Paul Thorn, whose blend of Delta blues, driving guitar rock, and gospel soul has given him a well-deserved reputation as one of the most dynamic Americanafest performers in history. Second-generation gospel vocal group The McCrary Sisters, who have backed up everyone from Bob Dylan to Buddy Miller, will make an appearance. Other returning favorites include folk-noir singer Lindi Ortega, rockers Band of Heathens, and old time revivalist Willie Watson.
One of the most rewarding things about Americanafest is catching the genre's fastest rising stars before they hit it big. This year, two of the four 2017 Emerging Artist of the Year nominees, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Brent Cobb, are scheduled for Americana Showcase performances. Other notable youngsters include Brian Wright, Mike and the Moonpies, and Courtney Marie Andrews.
Reminding fans that Americana is not limited to America, the 2017 lineup also sports an impressive international lineup. Scandinavian duo My Bubba will return after a well-received set in 2016. Australian Americanafest vet Kasey Chambers will also perform. From Canada comes folk rockers Deep Dark Woods.
The Americana Music Festival and Conference will be held Sept. 12-17 in venues throughout Nashville. The full initial lineup can be seen here.