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Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Americana Music in Black and White

Bravo!

Nice piece Ed...thoughtful comentary from many here.  "Dehydrated and prettied up"...true enough...I suppose John Sebatian's version was as well...the Leadbelly footage is fascinating stuff...

Where to start? Ive been following this thing from inception. I well remember when the term was alt-country. Purportedly it was to provide rcognition for artists who were too country for country radio. Hah Hah..As time went on I think people started questioning what Americana is. The thought has been, hey American music includes the contributions of African Americans too. After all, they gave us blues,gospel and spirituals, brought the banjo with them which was co-opted for bluegrass and string band music. Ok so far. I feel you. This brought us Rhiannon Giddens and Valerie June to the fold, all good.

Now though we are heading into even deeper musical waters with talking about Hip Hop and Jazz. Well, here are some honest thoughts not meant to wrankle anyone. Jazz, Hip-Hop and Blues already are well represented and awarded by numerous media and organizations, in other words theres no lack of love shown for them as far as I can tell. Honestly, Im having a hard time understanding really what the goal is for Americana. I can tell you that Dale Watson felt it wasnt representing Rockabilly, Honky Tonk, Outlaw Country and Western Swing very well which is why he formed The Ameripolitan organization. Each year they have an awards ceremony to honor artists producing music in those genres. The Country Music association still exists, the Grammys are still doing there thing, The IBMA is alive and well as are many others. So what is the end goal of Americana? Im with Yola, I dont favor the mono-genre at all. I like music to have some categorization and structure to it. It makes genre exploring all the more fun to me. I think most music listeners will agree. I dont speak for millennials, Im a middle ager so perhaps I'm a dinasaur, dunno. But I fear that Americana may get too vast for its own good and then we end up no longer honoring the music that has no representation in favor of giving recognition to genres that are already healthy with existing fan bases, awards shows and radio support. We could become too big for our own britches and end up harming and not helping music we love. Does that make sense? Hope so. I have thought this through, believe me and I speak to people all the time who shake their heads trying to understand what Americana is. I know I do. Thought provoking stuff Easy Ed.

Thanks for sharing that. If the genre that originally was alt-country had stayed alt-country, we wouldn't be having this discussion. By defining the organization as 'Americana' and including multiple genres in the organization's mission statement, they not only encouraged and built the 'big tent' but have pushed it out even further by bestowing lifetime achievement awards to those from across the ocean. Even Graham Nash had a hard time understanding that, saying something like the Hollies were influenced by the Beatles who were influenced by Buddy Holly. What's up with that? Britannica-Americana? In my mind  'Americana' is a radio format transformed into a marketing tool, and while I applaud the efforts to promote this music, in some areas they've drifted too close to the mainstream. I'd actually like to see the organization do away with every award catagory, have a festival that's inclusive of all types of American music and acknowledge people of multiple generations for significant achievements. That's a tall order and said off the cuff without deep thought. The point is, it's a good thing that people are talking about how certain music is defined, are taking the time to identify the community, calling into question the issue of diversity and challenging the status quo.