This week is one of the best weeks for Americana music fans with AMERICANAFEST taking over Nashville from September 11th-16th. With wristbands being only $75 for access to artist showcases for the entire week, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal for a festival. There is so much talent that it’s hard to even narrow a list down to 50 artists you should see, much less 8, but I’m going to do my best.
Tyler Childers– If you don’t see anyone else on this list, see Tyler Childers. His meteoric rise this year has guaranteed him a spot playing at Cannery Ballroom, one of the largest venues for artist showcases during the festival. If for some reason you don’t know who Tyler Childers is, you’ll want to rectify that immediately. Childers’ songs aren’t just hastily penned lyrics, they’re solid, well-crafted, stories. In my opinion, Childers is arguably one of the most talented songwriters in the genre. My introduction to Tyler was at last year’s AMERICANAFEST in the jam-packed Basement venue. To put it mildly, I was blown away and I’ve been obsessed with Tyler and his band The Food Stamps, ever since. You can catch Tyler at the Cannery Ballroom on Wednesday the 12th from 11:30pm-12:15am.
The Black Lillies– back at AMERICANAFEST for the first time since 2016, the group has changed a bit since their last appearance. Gone is the sound of the pedal steel and female vocals, in its place you’ll find the master guitar work of the newest member of the group, Dustin Schaefer, and the strong harmonies of an all male group. The Black Lillies are a true joy to see live and with a new album coming out September 28th, those in attendance will likely get a preview of their newest work. Check out The Black Lillies at the High Watt on Wednesday the 12th from 10:00pm-10:45pm.
Paul Cauthen– if you’ve got the nickname of Big Velvet, you better have the voice and personality to back that up and Cauthen more than delivers on that. His EP, Have Mercy was out in June and when listening to it you get the feeling Cauthen is all the best parts of Johnny Cash and Woody Guthrie combined into one dynamic songwriter with an equally dynamic voice. Cauthen is a heavy hitter at AMERICANAFEST, with his own revue at the Basement East and can be see three other times during the week. To catch the Big Velvet Revue, find your way to the Basement East on Wednesday from 10pm to 2am and enjoy other artists like BJ Barham of American Aquarium, Sam Morrow and TN Jet.
Jaime Wyatt– she’s got a background as badass as her voice and I’m tempted to crown her the new Queen of Outlaw Country. Give her debut album, Felony Blues a listen and tell me you don’t agree. With tracks like “Wasco” about reuniting with a lover who is in prison to her perfect cover of Merle Haggard’s “Misery and Gin”, this woman is the real deal. Catch Jaime at 3rd & Lindsley on Saturday the 15th from 11:00pm-11:45pm.
Colter Wall– listening to Colter Wall’s rich, baritone, voice you would think he’s years older than his 23 years. Listening to his music is almost like listening to an old soul. One who has lived a hard life in the west or on the prairies of Saskatchewan, of which he hails from. Colter is no stranger to AMERICANAFEST and with his new album, Songs of the Plains due out in October, I have no doubt he will wow the festival crowd with previous hits like the murder ballad “Kate McCannon” or new singles like “Plain to See Plainsman”. Colter’s showcase will be at Station Inn on Wednesday the 12th at 12:00am-12:45am.
Ashley Monroe– It’s hard to believe that this is Ashley Monroe’s first AMERICANAFEST as she’s no stranger to the Nashville scene. Besides performing solo, Monroe is also one part of the trio Pistol Annies. Her 2018 album entitled, Sparrow, is her fourth studio album, and is one of my favorites of the year so far. A talented songwriter, Monroe takes difficult periods of time from her life and makes them into something beautiful. Ashley’s official showcase is at the Station Inn on Friday the 14th from 10pm-10:45pm.
Aaron Lee Tasjan– quirky, creative and cool are all words I’d use to describe Aaron Lee Tasjan or ALT for short. I also like to compare him to a character out of a Wes Anderson movie. Comparisons aside, ALT is an East Nashville music scene staple. His unique brand of Americana rock is best enjoyed live when he and bandmate Brian Wright can be found jamming onstage, playing guitar solos that would make any jam band jealous. His newest album, Karma for Cheap, was just released, so go and enjoy hearing it live. ALT can be found all over town during AMERICANAFEST, but his official showcase is Friday, the 14th at 3rd & Lindsley from 11:30pm to 12:15am.
Charley Crockett– if you’re into artists with a retro vibe and a killer back-up band, look no further than Charley Crockett and his band The Blue Drifters. An experienced entertainer with a street musician background, Crockett knows how to work the crowd with a setlist full of his original songs and creative covers. It’s hard to pigeon hole Crockett into one genre, he’s a little bit honky-tonk, New Orleans flair and soul all mixed into one. Charley Crockett is playing Mercy Lounge at 10:00pm-10:45 on Saturday the 15th.