Biggest Musical Takeaways From AmericanaFest 2023

AmericanaFest occurred last week in Nashville. And despite the continued debates on “What is Americana?” and some off-the-stage fireworks that Saving Country Music will be covering once all the information is in one place, the event is an excellent place for discovery. Some of the artists and bands showcasing at the event will be the biggest names in country and roots music in the coming years.

Below are a few of the biggest standouts from the week, and for more coverage from AmericanaFest, check out Saving Country Music on Instagram.

Kimmi Bitter

Kimmi Bitter is an absolute classic country treasure. She’s the closest thing our generation has to Patsy Cline, but she also has a style all her own. She’s the perfect combination of the familiar and original.

Bitter first made waves with her song “My Grass Is Blue” that became a nominee for Saving Country Music’s Single of the Year in 2022. But she has a whole set worth of great original songs that she showcased at Nashville’s Feed & Seed as part of AmericanaFest.

In the coming years, Kimmi Bitter is going places, and she’ll be taking classic country with a little injection of psych and mod with her. The future of country music is classic, and the future of classic country is Kimmi Bitter.

Taylor Hunnicutt

Taylor Hunnicutt. Taylor Hunnicutt. Taylor Hunnicutt. Tattoo that name on your brain and remember where you heard it first, because this young woman is going to be lights out when she hits, and entertaining crowds for years to come.

Taylor Hunnicutt rolled into Dee’s Cocktail Lounge in Nashville with her band of a bunch of greasy boys from Alabama that look like they could stink up a 15 passenger van something fierce, and laid waste to the place on Wednesday of AmericanaFest.

Hunnicutt is like 49 Winchester’s soul, Mike and the Moonpies’ skill, and a serious dose of bluesy country Outlaw rock with all those deadly tight rhythm changes that help pound her original songs home. She’s just released a succession of singles and and an EP at this point. But be ready for it, because when it catches fire, it’s gonna be big.

J.R. Carroll

One of the cool things about the massive explosion in popularity of Zach Bryan is how it’s helped raise the profile of so many other worthy artists and musicians in the process. You’ve probably seen J.R. Carroll playing in Zach Bryan’s band, but he’s a great songwriter all his own.

Carroll played the legendary Exit/In in Nashville as part of AmericanaFest Friday night, and proved why he’s much more than just a side player. Check out his song “Preacher Man,” if you want further validation. Carroll also invited Tanner Usrey up to the stage to sing the song “Make You Weep” they co-wrote together.

On top of that, steel guitarist Read Connolly who’s played in both the bands of Zach Bryan and Charles Wesley Godwin (another guy Zach Bryan has helped out) was seen all over the place at AmericanaFest as well, supporting cool artists and throwing positive energy all over the place.

Channing Wilson

Damn does Channing Wilson bring it live! Everyone that was not at The Basement Thursday night at AmericanaFest in Nashville was in the wrong damn place. Channing and his band waylaid the crowd with their badass chest-thumping Outlaw country. This is the kind of music that makes you try to pound your boot heel through the floor.

For years Channing has been a highly respected songwriter, covered by the likes of Sunny Sweeney, Jason Eady, and some guy named Luke Combs just to name a few. But now that he’s finally released his first official album Dead Man produced by Dave Cobb, he’s out there fronting a badass Outlaw country band that packs the mother of all punches.

Channing had been seen before by Saving Country Music, but only in the capacity of a solo songwriter. With the band, it’s true Outlaw country at its finest.

The Wilder Blue

There is music. And then there is The Wilder Blue, who feel so transcendent, they’re in a category all of their own. Blending country, bluegrass, folk rock and Americana, and underpinning it all with incredible musicianship and 5-part harmonies, it puts you in a place other “music” just can’t take you.

They’re not exacty new to Saving Country Music. Luke Combs discovered them while reading this website. But their performance at AmericanaFest was so spectacular, they deserve a mention here. While performing at The Basement East in Nashville, Zane Williams said “Some people ask why I gave up a solo career to be in a band. I say to them, ‘Have you heard the band?’”

A supergroup in many respects that also includes singer and songwriter Paul Eason, multi-instrumentalist Andy Rogers, drummer Lyndon Hughes, and bassist Sean Rodriguez, you will be hard pressed to find more talent on a stage on this planet or any other. The chemistry is incredible.

The Wilder Blue is musical truth. New album produced by Brent Cobb coming up in November.

Gabe Lee

Ready to take on any and all arguments about why this guy isn’t headlining big festivals, filling massive rooms, and making major waves in music, and to throw them right back in your face as pure poppycock.

Gabe Lee is just on a different level right now, and feels like a ticking time bomb ready to explode when the world wake up to what it has among its midst. We’ll be talking about his new album Drink The River when consideration for Album of the Year comes around come December.

Gotta love the smile he cracks when he knows he landed in the pocket when his harmony singers Kelly Holloran and Rylie Bourne kick in. Sublime take on “Eveline” captured at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge in Nashville as part of Keystone Artist Connect at AmericanaFest.

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