Nashville, Tenn. (Aug. 12, 2019) -- This year, the Americana Music Association® has selected the state of North Carolina as the regional music focus for its 20th annual AMERICANAFEST®, Sept. 10-15 in Nashville, Tenn. In partnership with the initiative Come Hear NC and Visit North Carolina, the destination music festival and conference event previews this special programming today, which will feature multiple panels and two music showcases over three days. Highlights include a keynote featuring roots aficionado Rhiannon Giddens; a musical book reading by singer-songwriter Chris Stamey; and a deep-dive discussion on the history of Americana music in North Carolina featuring American Aquarium’s BJ Barham. A full slate of programming can be found below.
“We’re beyond thrilled to partner with such a great initiative to celebrate North Carolina’s musical contributions,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association. “From its Piedmont blues to its Appalachian roots, we hope that our attendees can experience the many origins and sounds of what we know as Americana music today through this programming.”
“Realizing the full potential of Come Hear NC requires collaborations with strong partners that have the dedication and resources to effectively tell the story of North Carolina’s contributions to American music. AmericanaFest is an event with a national and international audience,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director, N.C. Arts Council. “We are grateful to the Americana Music Association for providing such a strong platform to present and explore North Carolina roots music.”
The North Carolina spotlight begins at the three-day conference portion of AMERICANAFEST on Wednesday, September 11. Author David Menconi will moderate “A Brief History of North Carolina Music,” a discussion on the rich musical heritage of North Carolina, with panelists BJ Barham (American Aquarium), Sarah Shook (Sarah Shook & The Disarmers), Mitch Easter and N.C. Arts Council Executive Director Wayne Martin. The session will focus on the many threads of Americana that lead back to the great Appalachian state, expanding on sonic influences beyond its traditional old-time music.
On deck with a cello, violin and guitar, Chris Stamey will treat attendees to a musical book reading on Thursday, September 12, as he guides attendees through milestones from his memoir. “A Spy in the House of Loud” centers around his documented experience as a twenty-something North Carolina transplant living in NYC during the glory days of iconic punk clubs like CBGB. Stamey will provide musical accompaniment to chapters of a career that included being a founding member of the famed jangle-rock group the dB’s with Big Star’s Alex Chilton.
Thursday evening sees the first of two official AMERICANAFEST showcases at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley. Night one will offer a scope of the many sounds of North Carolina to audience members through an impressive display of bluegrass, folk and country with performances by Chatham County Line, Malcolm Holcombe, Jim Lauderdale, Rising Appalachia, Emily Scott Robinson and Sarah Siskind.
The last day of the AMERICANAFEST conference brings together Erin Scholze (Dreamspider Publicity) with panelists Martin Anderson (WNCW Radio), Stacy Claude (Mountain Song Productions), Robert Greer (Town Mountain) and more for an analysis on the burgeoning music scene of Asheville, N.C. Presented by Come Hear NC and Visit North Carolina, “Asheville Skyline and Black Mountain Rag: The Western North Carolina Music Phenomenon” will give attendees a firsthand look at the city’s story and key players in one of the state’s most prominent musical hotbeds.
As previously announced, on Friday, September 13, Rhiannon Giddens will sit down with writer John Jeremiah Sullivan for a conversation during “Erasure of American Music History.” Picking up where her recent New Yorker profile left off, the pair will take a magnifying glass to America’s folk traditions and share why they believe there is a lack of awareness on musical contributions by African Americans like Frank Johnson. Johnson, a formative American fiddle musician and brass band leader from the 19th century, is co-recipient of this year’s inaugural Legacy of Americana Award along with Giddens.
Friday evening will lead festivities into the weekend with a second music showcase at the Mercy Lounge. Americana musicians from the community with North Carolina ties will take the stage including American Aquarium; Liz Brasher; Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboys; Dixon, Easter & Stamey; Sarah Shook & The Disarmers; and Travers Brothership.
In partnership with the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, the Americana Music Association will also present a North Carolina-focused songwriter session at the museum’s Ford Theater on Saturday, September 14. Singer-songwriters BJ Barham, Jonathan Byrd and Sarah Siskind will give attendees insight into their respective creative processes and how their N.C. origins inform their music today.
Come Hear NC and Visit North Carolina will be sponsoring a special day party on Saturday, bringing a full day of music and food to White Avenue Studio for attendees. The event’s lineup is curated by Yep Roc Records.
This year’s regional spotlight will come to a memorable close Saturday evening during “Amazing Grace: Celebrating Doc Watson,” a musical tribute dedicated to commemorating the life of the Deep Gap, NC native, who is largely responsible for the American folk music revival and the seminal MerleFest in his backyard. Bluegrass, folk and blues musicians will honor his incomparable legacy in song at The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville’s premier listening room.
Those interested in attending AMERICANAFEST panels can purchase a 2019 Conference Registration (currently priced at $449 / $349 for Americana Music Association members), giving access to over 60 industry panels, more than 300 nightly showcases and close to 100 special events across town in Nashville. Music fans who are just interested in the nightly music showcases can purchase a Festival Wristband at $90, which allows entry into official showcases and select special events.
The Americana Music Association first announced its partnership with Come Hear NC and Visit North Carolina at the state’s Executive Mansion last spring, beginning the celebration with a special edition of their Music at the Mansion series featuring Mandolin Orange.
More information on AMERICANAFEST as well as passes can be found at americanamusic.org.
North Carolina Programming at AMERICANAFEST 2019 - Nashville, Tenn.
Wednesday, Sept. 11
A Brief History of North Carolina Music
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Gulch III, The Westin Nashville
While North Carolina is known particularly for its tradition of old-time music, country, bluegrass, jazz, rock, folk and the Piedmont blues have also played a part in the cultivation of the state’s deep music heritage. Many of these influences have shaped what we call Americana music today. Join artists and music historians for a discussion of the historical and contemporary sounds that have shaped North Carolina’s musical legacy and its place in the Americana universe. Presented by Come Hear NC and Visit North Carolina.
Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants.
Thursday, Sept. 12
A Spy in the House of Loud: A Musical Book Reading by Chris Stamey
4 - 5 p.m. | SoBro III, The Westin Nashville
American popular music was in a creative upheaval in the late 1970s. As singer-songwriter and producer Chris Stamey remembers, “the old guard had become bloated, cartoonish ... we wanted none of it.” In a special "Musical Book Reading" (arranged for cello, violin & guitar) from his memoir A Spy in the House of Loud, Chris Stamey takes us back to the auteur explosion that happened in New York City clubs such as CBGB's, when Television, Talking Heads, R.E.M. and other innovative bands were rewriting the rules. Just 22-years-old and newly arrived in NYC from North Carolina, Stamey joined Alex Chilton's band and then started the dB’s. Revealing another side of the CBGB era, which has been stereotyped as punk rock, safety pins, and provocation, the book portrays a Southern artist’s coming-of-age in New York’s frontier abandon as he searched for new ways to break the rules and make some noise. Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants.
Thursday, Sept. 12
Regional Music Spotlight: North Carolina
7 p.m. - 12:45 a.m. | 3rd & Lindsley
Join AMERICANAFEST for an evening celebrating the musical legacy of North Carolina during this official showcase. Featuring performances by Chatham County Line, Malcolm Holcombe, Jim Lauderdale, Rising Appalachia, Emily Scott Robinson and Sarah Siskind. Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants and Festival Wristband holders or $20 at the door.
Friday, Sept. 13
Asheville Skyline and Black Mountain Rag: The Western North Carolina Music Phenomenon
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. | Vanderbilt III, The Westin Nashville
Its past has a solid foundation with Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs and Charlie Poole, but today's music scene in and around Asheville and Western NC is one of the nation's richest and coolest. What's the story? Who are the key players, from venues, festivals, record labels, radio to artists and more making up the ecosystem? This panel will survey a remarkable fountain of talent and tradition and share a panel of knowledge from the area. Presented by Come Hear NC and Visit North Carolina. Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants.
Friday, Sept. 13
Erasure of American Music History
4 - 5 p.m. | Vanderbilt III, The Westin Nashville
Research on old music, especially from the pre-recording era, always involves phantoms — forgotten singers and players whose lives, when lifted from the archives, enhance our understanding of how this country’s folk traditions evolved. But the question of “lostness” is more vexed when it comes to African-American musicians, whose stories often vanish not through simple obscurity or the passage of time but by systems of racial neglect. Not lostness, in other words, but erasure. John Jeremiah Sullivan’s recent New Yorker profile of Rhiannon Giddens brought to light an especially curious case of that phenomenon in the person of North Carolina fiddler Frank Johnson, who was one of the most prominent American musical figures of the 19th century, but had disappeared from the scholarly record almost to the point of non-existence. Sullivan and Giddens — who is the co-recipient (with Johnson himself) of the inaugural 2019 Legacy of Americana Award — will discuss his legacy. Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants.
Friday, Sept. 13
Regional Music Spotlight: North Carolina
7 p.m. - 12:45 a.m. | Mercy Lounge
Join AMERICANAFEST for an evening celebrating the musical legacy of North Carolina during this official showcase. Featuring performances by American Aquarium; Liz Brasher; Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboys; Dixon, Easter & Stamey; Sarah Shook & The Disarmers; and Travers Brothership. Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants and Festival Wristband holders.
Saturday, Sept. 14
Songwriter Session: North Carolina Writers BJ Barham, Jonathan Byrd, and Sarah Siskind
11 a.m. - 12 p.m. | Ford Theater, Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum
BJ Barham is the frontman and primary songwriter of American Aquarium, who just released their seventh album, Things Change, produced by John Fullbright. In 2016, Barham released his solo debut, Rockingham, a collection of songs exploring small-town life and rural America, inspired by his hometown of Reidsville, N.C. Seventh generation Carolinian Jonathan Byrd uses his folk background to create songs—including those on his most recent project, Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboys—that cross genre barriers. He is a winner of the Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk songwriting competition. Sarah Siskind has written songs recorded by Alison Krauss, Molly Tuttle, Wynonna, and Country Music Hall of Fame member Randy Travis, as well as twenty-one songs recorded for the television show Nashville. She will release a new album in 2020.
Program admission is included with AMERICANAFEST Conference Registration. Limited seating. Conference Registrants may RSVP through an email sent to you from AMERICANAFEST in late August. If you are a Conference Registrant who did not RSVP, you are welcome to wait in the stand-by line.
Saturday, Sept. 14
North Carolina Day Party
11 a.m. - 5 p.m. | White Avenue Studio
Come Hear North Carolina and Visit North Carolina invite you to a full day of music, food and fun. Join WUNC's Songs We Love podcast host Eric Hodge for unforgettable performances curated by legendary North Carolina label, Yep Roc Records. Featuring performances by Jim Lauderdale, Michaela Anne, DADDY LONG LEGS, Mapache, Jack Klatt and many others.
Free public entry.
Saturday, Sept. 14
Amazing Grace: Celebrating Doc Watson
6 p.m. - 8 p.m. | The Bluebird Cafe
Doc Watson (1923-2012) personified the American folk music revival as a master of timeless songs and as a virtuoso and pioneering acoustic guitar picker. He was also a down-home gentleman who exhibited amazing grace in every part of his life, including presiding over the influential MerleFest near his home in Deep Gap, NC. At this special event, great guitarists and musicians from bluegrass, folk and blues join together to play Doc’s favorite songs and share stories about an icon.
Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants or $10 at the door. Seating is limited, please arrive before showtime or seat will be given up – no standing allowed. Reservations strongly suggested and may be made online for $3 at www.bluebirdcafe.com. Limited walk-up seating for conference registrants. There is a $10 food/drink minimum purchase per seat.
About the Americana Music Association®: The Americana Music Association® is a professional not-for-profit trade organization whose mission is to advocate for the authentic voice of American roots music around the world. The Association produces events throughout the year; including AMERICANAFEST® and the critically acclaimed Americana Honors & Awards program. The Americana Music Association receives enormous support from the Tennessee Department of Tourism, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC.
About AMERICANAFEST®: The 20th annual AMERICANAFEST® will take place on Sept. 10-15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn. The event brings together fans and music industry professionals alike, offering six days of celebration through seminars, panels and networking opportunities by day and raw, battery recharging showcases each night. The Americana Honors & Awards Show is the featured performance of the festivities, taking place at the historic Ryman Auditorium. For more information, please visit www.americanamusic.org.
About Come Hear NC: Come Hear NC is a year-long mission designed to celebrate, support, and sustain North Carolinians’ groundbreaking contributions to American music. From banjo and guitar innovators Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, to Nina Simone, George Clinton, Etta Baker, James Taylor, J. Cole, the Avett Brothers, and everywhere in between, North Carolina musicians have made an impact on audiences across the globe. Over 40,000 North Carolinians work in the music industry today. You can learn more about the state’s musical history and thriving presence on the Come Hear NC website with daily posts highlighting these achievements on the “365 Days of Music” blog at www.ComeHearNC.com.