The wildest week of September in Nashville is upon us – a double dose of festivals (the best kind) that’ll bring in more than their fair share of winsome and wondrous music to play out within our fair city – the Americana Music Association’s Americanafest and Pilgrimage Festival at the end of the week, making for a helter skelter week of shows throughout.
Between the two, Pilgrimage is far more manageable than Americanafest, as the ever-expanding list of showcasing artists at Americana Fest will take place everywhere from the Station Inn to the Mother Church, where the likes of Emmylou Harris, Bob Weir, Billy Bragg, Shawn Colvin, Nathaniel Rateliff, Alison Kraus, and Bonnie Raitt will take the stage, while other icons of the genre like Indigo Girls, John Paul White, Lea Ann Womack, and John Prine perform at other clubs around town.
Naturally, the most familiar names are going to have an immediate draw, but what about some of the rising acts that are coming through Nashville this week? Here’s a list featuring just a small sample size of the phenomenal artists performing at Americanafest this week.
Aaron Lee Tasjan
Aaron Lee has got a classically weird feel to his brand of folk rock n’ roll that flirts with John Lennon level-lyricism and Joe Cocker musicality, making his Americanafest set an absolute must for anyone that wants to get in on the Tasjan hype-train before his newest record, Silver Tears, drops on October 28th. He’s sharp as a broken coke bottle on a bed full of thumbtacks, and with the sensuous mystique of his music, you’d be awful sore if you missed out on ALT’s Americanafest set at Cannery Ballroom on Friday, September 23rd at 8:30pm.
Bonnie has been going after it for a while now, and to say its had some peaks and valleys would be doing the Houston native a serious disservice. She’s one hell of a songwriter that’s gotten the acclaim she deserves via Bonnie Raitt (a Grammy and Raitt covered her tune “Undone”), but her Americanafest victory lap is going to be one last hurrah for her stellar Spring release, Ain’t Who I Was, at The High Watt on Friday, September 22nd, at 8pm.
Distant cousin to Dave, but no need to assume one is riding on the reputation of the other – they’ve both carved out their own niche spots in the world of Americana. After cutting his teeth as a top-notch songwriter for some time, Brent is playing Americanafest in support of his upcoming major label debut (Elektra Records), Shine On Rainy Day. Brent will be playing at The Anchor on Friday, September 23rd, at 10:30pm.
The dudes in Cordovas have been on the road a ton this year, and despite popping into their home base for a little Americanafest action, they’re doing an additional 40 dates until the end of the year. Marathon musicians, Cordovas managed to set aside a little time to get to work on their newest full-length that’s bound to be as kick ass recorded as the band is live. Cordovas are playing Friday, September 23rd at the Basement East.
Nashville’s a far cry from San Diego, so when Augustana front man Dan Layus made the move from the easy breezy west coast to the humid toil that is our beloved Nashville, it’d be fair to scratch your head. Nevertheless, Layus has made the city his own, embracing the world of the Bible Belt, and will performing at Americanafest Thursday, September 22nd, at The Basement at 11pm in support of his upcoming solo debut, Dangerous Things, out October 21st
Erin Rae & the Meanwhiles
With a timeless voice that’s sweeter than saffron dipped in honey, Erin Rae has been playing out pretty consistently, as of late, and that makes her brief stint back in town a must see for Americanafest. Her LP Soon Enough is an all-timer for the Nashville new-wave, and her easy going demeanor means that many a fine Nashville folk will be in attendance, one of which should be you. Erin Rae will be playing The Basement on Thursday, September 22nd at 9pm.
There aren’t a ton (but there are still plenty) of groups that come into town Nashville for Americanafest that bring about the blossom of stunted emotion like Mandolin Orange does. One of the most oft overlooked and criminally underappreciated Americana groups on the tour circuit, Mandolin Orange will undoubtedly be top candidates for the proverbial “belles of the Americanafest ball.” While they are playing the fest at The High Watt on Friday, September 23rd, you’ll get another chance to check them out when they roll back through Nashville on at Exit/In on October 20th.
More charming than a gypsy bracelet, Miss Molly Parden is one of the most disarming artists slated on the Americanafest lineup. She’s been all over the map in the past couple months, it seems, so it will be an irrefutable pleasure to have her back in town for at least a night at City Winery on Thursday, September 22nd at 8pm as she plays tunes from her soft cooing summer EP, With Me in the Summer.
We love Sarah Potenza, and she’s a monstrous talent. While most of Americanafest hangs out around the figurative field hands and prose readers, Sarah’s brand of Americana is the stuff of steel workers and Chicago blues barons. She’ll be crushing tracks from her excellent debut LP, Monster at a number of showcasing events, but she’s running the show at The Family Wash on Sunday, September 25th at 2pm for her Sunday School event.
While these 9 acts serve as excellent suggestions for Americanafest 2016, they hardly even scratch the surface of the great acts playing Americanafest this year (and a list containing every act would be murder), as other acts worth should check out include Darrin Bradbury, Matt Haeck, Aofie O’Donovan, Amanda Shires, Andrew Combs, Marlon Williams, Reckless Kelly, Whitney Rose, Luke Bell, Joe Henry, and countless others.