The biggest takeaway from SXSW 2017 will be that for the first time since the very inception of the idea over 30 years ago, the annual music gathering experienced a palpable draw down in attendance and industry participation to a degree that it fundamentally changed many of the dynamics and rigors one must endure to attend.
Margo Price was surprised Tuesday (3-7) night when she was beckoned to the headquarters of her record label Third Man Records, and walked in the doors to find a throng of friends, band members, and other supporters there to congratulate her on winning the 2017 American Music Prize.
It don’t matter who’s on country radio, Chris Stapleton is still the current king of country music when it comes to recognition and album sales. A solid 16 months since he shocked the world at the 2015 CMA Awards, and he is still the perennial chart topper on the country albums charts with Traveller most every week, and there is no signs of it slowing down soon.
Zac Brown promised last September that the band would be bringing the music back to its roots, and he certainly delivers on that promise with Zac Brown Band’s latest single called “My Old Man.” But how we got here and why such a return to the roots is even possible or necessary is important context.
They’ve decided to divide opening duties among a total of 26 separate openers across the 65 total tour dates, as opposed to taking the usual stance with openers, which is to drag the same two or three lightweight mainstream up-and-comers around with them for six months. Even more surprising are the names selected to open.
Much of the attention of ‘Noisey: Nashville’ is expended when Zach Goldbaum embeds with country rapper Mikel Knight’s street team, which Saving Country Music has covered extensively in the past. Independent country artist Margo Price is also involved, and tells the story behind her song “Hands of Time.”
Covering female country artists has all of a sudden become a perilous enterprise. Even when you’re putting out efforts to highlight female artists, simply referring to them by their gender can be a no no, along with a host of other seemingly spanking new, and frankly unintuitive rules that will put you in the doghouse with a host of socially-conscious media members
When Saving Country Music started in 2009, the biggest artist in country music was Taylor Swift. Now, it’s arguably Chris Stapleton. Independent artists are finding support like never before, allowing them to be able to completely sidestep the pitfalls of the mainstream industry and still have sustainable, and in many cases, very successful careers.
One of the reasons we feel so surprised at Americana’s success and so many have been so slow to recognize it is because it has been a slow and steady process. Because of Americana’s model of sustainability, the revolution has been plodding, yet purposeful. And now it’s success is palpable, and measurable by industry-standard metrics.
In January of 2016, Saving Country Music published an article explaining how 2016 Could Be 1975 All Over Again in country music—how an upsurge in more traditional and substantive talent and music could really take hold in country, from the independent realm to the mainstream. And that is exactly what we’ve seen as 2016 has progressed.
With absolutely no hyperbole intended, William Michael Morgan earning a #1 on country radio for his debut single “I Met A Girl” is a historic moment in country music. It’s a point in time when an undeniably traditional country song from an undeniably traditional country artist has topped the chart after a long vacancy for a traditionalist at the top spot.
AmericanaFest is one of the biggest annual gathering of the tribes on the roots music calendar, and the crown jewel is the Americana Awards on the Wednesday of the festival week. This year Saving Country Music showed up early to take in the rehearsal for the festivities taking place at the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium.
The reigning king of Americana music at the moment is arguably songwriter and performer Jason Isbell. But Jason Isbell will not be performing at Americana’s annual premier event every year—The Americana Music Conference, or AmericanaFest, that transpires September 20th through 25th in downtown Nashville.
Sturgill Simpson is currently in the running and being voted on by members of the Country Music Association for three of the 50th Anniversary presentation’s biggest prizes. Also surprising since she’s not on a major label, Margo Price has made the top 20 females being considered for Female Vocalist of the Year.
If someone is apt to not pay attention to female artists, whether that’s a garden variety country fan or a major label executive, bunching female artists together is probably not going to garner their attention, it’s probably going to turn them off even more, especially if the premise of putting these artists together is an attempt to break through a gender bias.
There are bigger festivals. This is for sure. And there are bigger performers and headliners. But few festivals can boast the ability to not just support worthy music from a wide swath of the American audio palette, but truly launch major careers for artists that go on to have an international impact—artists that music needs.
Alvvays, Alynda Segarra, C.W. Stoneking, Cahalen Morrison, Caleb Klauder, Foghorn Stringband, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Jeff Tweedy, Jessica Wilkes, Kacy & Clayton, Kevin Black, Margo Price, Pickathon, Red Yarn Band, The Deslondes, The Wild Reeds, Vhol, Western Centuries
Willie Nelson, along with Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews are the board members for the Farm Aid organization first launched in 1985, and all four will be performing at this year’s event being held in Bristow, Virginia at Jiffy Lube Live on September 17th. Along with the four headliners, this year’s Farm Aid features an impressive list of country music talent.
Carlene Carter, Dave Matthews, Farm Aid, Jamey Johnson, John Mellencamp, Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Neil Young, Sturgill Simpson, Tim Reynolds, Willie Nelson
Believe it or not, you can draw a straight line between underground roots music, and Chris Stapleton becoming the most successful country music artist in the last two years in regards to awards and album sales. Let me explain how:
This year the event will be held for the second year in a row at the Austin 360 Amphitheater on the grounds of the Circuit of the America’s Formula 1 raceway just outside of Austin, and will feature an impressive list of talent, from Picnic mainstays like Johnny Bush, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and David Allan Coe, to newcomers such as Margo Price and Shakey Graves.
2016, Amber Digby, Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Joe Shaver, Brantley Gilbert, Cody Johnson, Dallas Wayne, David Allan Coe, Folk Uke, Jamestown Revival, Jamey Johnson featuring special guest Alison Krauss, Johnny Bush, Kris Kristofferson, Lee Ann Womack, Leon Russell, Margo Price, Paula Nelson, Raelyn Nelson Band, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Shakey Graves, Willie Nelson, Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic
Early Wednesday evening (5/11), the nominees for the 2016 Americana Music Awards were announced via NPR’s live stream from the historic Mansion on O Street in Washington, DC. The event was hosted by the Milk Carton Kids, and featured performances from multiple Americana artists.