Article

Sustaining Americana

What do you get for the genre that has everything?

Chris, this sentence struck me: "Americana music has been fortunate with its evolution from those Tupelo boys...".  Americana didn't start with Uncle Tupelo, it started with Rob Bleetstein and Jon Grimson who needed a term to call their radio playlist format. It was and is an umbrella term thrown retroactively over a broad group of different types of music. The guys in Uncle Tupelo have said themselves they didn't start anything and that they were just one act in a long line of acts that went back decades who appreciated roots music and wanted to play it their way. Be that as it may, I tend to think the challenge with roots music these days is too much sameness.  How many old timey bands singing into a single single microphone playing banjos are going to stand out? Or in Mumford's case they took their arena folk about as far as it could, further than needed, really, and turned to an equally bland version of folk rock. More power to them all for pursuing their passion but so many of these bands sound identical. Which is typical of most forms of music, roots and otherwise. I love the picture you included of Rhiannon Giddens, she stands out in any crowd.

"Lana Del Rey, Lumineers, Alabama Shakes, and Mumford & Sons have already begun to hug the horizon line in the rear view mirror. These artists (and the Civil Wars).."

Except for Alabama Shakes those are all bands I could do without.

I thought Tupelo boys was a reference to Elvis and maybe Scotty Moore.  I bet you're reading is correct Jack 11.0.  Uncle Tupelo was a link in the chain. 

I agree, how does Lana Del Ray even fit into Americana? Isn't Lana the modern Claudine Longet(perhaps with a deeper voice)? Just askin'  

Lots of credit to the Tupelo boys, but the Big Bang for me was the mid-80s emergence of Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakum, kd Lang, and Lyle Lovett, with X, Los Lobos, the Blasters, and others already pushing in from the punk scene as well.  Bruce's "Nebraska" also nudged the 80s run of the continuum as well.  And is Petty's 1985 "Southern Accents" very far off the trail from everything that's been called Americana since then?  By the late 80s, Lucinda arrived with her self-titled album, and the rest is history.  

Many more roots can be followed, forwards and backwards.  Yours are different from mine.  In the last few months, I've had the pleasure of seeing the amazing talents of both Chris Knight and Colter Wall, showing the story-songwriting skills that form a strong leg of the Americana stool. Old and new continue to carry this undefinable and evolving genre forward.  

"Consider rock and roll's recent slide in popularity (to some extent at the hands of the banjo). Rock may yet rise again..."

Rock is NOT Rock'n'Roll.

Rock is an art form.

Rock'n'Roll is FUN.

“Hail, hail rock and roll
Deliver me from the days of old
Long live rock and roll
The beat of the drums, loud and bold
Rock, rock, rock and roll
The feeling is there, body and soul”

Chuck Berry, RIP

Missed this in July. I  do like the author's distinction of respect for "great interpreters". Before Dylan and the Beatles (All of whom I revere) made it imperative to write "originals" to be considered authentic, the song was king, more important than the songwriter.  All traditional folk music, all classical, Great American Songbook  performances are interpretations of previous music forms. I would judge that those forms are as authentic  as any.