For its 19th consecutive year, the Americana Music Festival and Conference took place in the heart of Nashville, kicking off September 11th and wrapping Sunday, September 16th. With dozens of showcases, panels, and parties including the Americana Honors and Awards, this year’s event was truly one for the books. The Orchard Nashville crew and a few teammates from New York City came down to celebrate with our partners and enjoy the musical talent and company.
Of the eleven honors granted, six were awarded to artists distributed by The Orchard. Our team witnessed a number of timely and inspiring speeches and captivating performances including Jason Isbell, John Prine, Fantastic Negrito (Cooking Vinyl), Courtney Marie Andrews (Fat Possum), and many more.
Over the past year Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit have been making headlines. The Southeastern Records group took home Album of the Year for The Nashville Sound and Song of the Year for “If We Were Vampires.” The face of Americana music in 2018, it’s no surprise the successful group were also crowned Duo/Group of the Year.
One of the biggest awards of the night, Artist of the Year, was awarded to our favorite legendary artist John Prine (Oh Boy Records). Currently in his fifth decade releasing music, John Prine is an inspiration to many of the winners and nominees. Prine’s experience contrasts with our final award winner Tyler Childers. Relatively new on the scene but with a classic soul, Tyler Childers’ latest album Purgatory via Hickman Holler Records has put him on the American map in a big way, earning him the Emerging Artist of the Year.
On the ground during the festivities, our team divided and conquered to see as many of our talented performers as possible. Some of our highlights of the week include quickly blossoming talent and new partners like The War and Treaty (Strong World Entertainment), Caleb Caudle (Cornelius Chapel Records), The Watson Twins (The Watson Twins), Erin Rae (Single Lock), Cedric Burnside (Single Lock) and Whitehorse (Six Shooter Records), all of whom were winning fans and critics over with each set.
Attending a number of showcases, Blue Élan Records celebrated their Americana sound with artists Jesse Dayton, The Vegabonds, Red Wanting Blue and Chelsea Williams. Their showcase “Red, White, & Blue Élan” housed mind-blowing sets that kept everyone on their feet dancing paired with BBQ and beer – how very Nashville!
Served alongside another spread of southern delicacy (chicken and waffles), Thirty Tigers hosted their 8th annual Gospel Brunch at City Winery. Here we were charmed by the wildly talented, AHI, The War and Treaty, Phil Cook, John Smith, and The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
On the conference side of the event, our very own Lauren Kasper spoke on the panel Living The Dream: Get Your Streaming Game On, alongside Eileen Tilson from Oh Boy Records, Rachel Whitney of Pandora, and artist manager, Copeland Isaacson. The group discussed best practices for marketing your release on streaming services and the way placements can change the trajectory of a career.
One of the most important parts of our festival-going agenda includes relationship building across current and potential partners. Our team on-site and the beloved SVP of Product Development, Alan Becker, attended A2IM’s opening night where many of our friends gathered to kick-off their weekend. We also united with Black River Entertainment to strategize and leverage the hype circling Kelsea Ballerini, who recently dropped a track called “This Feeling” with the Chainsmokers and was announced as a coach in the upcoming season of The Voice.
Last but certainly not least, this year’s festivities were dominated by incredible women who continue to prove time and time again that women can (and will) make an impact across the Americana scene and music industry as a whole.
While the genre of Americana may be hard to define, its influence and presence in Nashville and around the world is undeniable. Americana Fest is truly one of our favorite weeks of the year.