Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hello everyone, and welcome to Americana Review. If you’re a repeat visitor, welcome back! Today’s entry will talk about the genre that is Americana and what it entails. I’m sure there are many interpretations of what the Americana genre is, and this is the place to talk about it. As always, comments are not only welcome, but really encouraged!

I’ve been doing my best to listen to as many Americana artists as I can, in an effort to pin down what this brand of music is all about. I’ve come to the conclusion that really, you can’t pin this music down. That’s what I believe is the beauty of this form of music. It’s taking the best that all formats have to offer and mixing it up into something that’s unique, something that you can’t put your finger on ... but you know you like it. You like it a lot. Then you come back for more.

If you’re like me, a new fan of Americana, you may also be a bit of a country music nerd (also like me). Americana can be traced back many, many years. Americana is based in folk music, but its roots and branches are limitless. There have been many avenues for Americana music to be heard. If anyone reading was alive in the early 1970’s, perhaps you will recall The Johnny Cash Show. I’m fortunate enough to have a Best of DVD, I was too young to remember the show. Every week from the Home (at the time) of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, the Ryman Auditorium, The Man In Black would welcome the biggest stars in country music to the stage to be heard around the world. Perhaps more importantly, Johnny Cash would invite the biggest stars of the day in other genres of music to the hallowed shrine of country music to perform. Stars such as Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Young and Ray Charles all graced the stage of the Ryman on Johnny’s show. The Johnny Cash Show only ran for three seasons on ABC television in the United States, but what an important three years it was. I’m quite sure Mr. Cash realized it at the time, that what he was doing with his television show was showing the world that it was okay to not have your music labelled. It was okay to just let the music and the song tell the story. It was okay to be different. It was okay to let the music make you feel something, whether it was country, blues, folk or straight up rock and roll. It was all about the music. Although the “label” did not exist in the early 1970’s, I believe this was the first mass media introduction of what would later become known as “Americana music.” This is what Johnny Cash stood for. And this is one of the many reasons why Johnny Cash has the rare distinction of being inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If and when the time comes that there is an Americana Music Hall of Fame, I can pretty much guarantee that Johnny Cash will be a charter inductee.

I guess you could say that Americana is what you make of it. It’s what you want it to be and what you want to get from it. While its focus remains on the musical roots of country music in its purest form, it’s a constant evolution of stories and musical styles. It’s a sense of community and inclusion, and the encouragement to be different, to not be or sound like anyone else. It’s the push an artist needs to just be and sound like themselves.

The Americana music scene is the most vibrant, creative and thoughtful musical community out there today. I look forward to this journey that I’m on, where I will discover great artists who write and perform for the music and stories that exist within them. I look forward to sharing these stories and the music with you, as long as you will keep reading and listening. I look forward to hearing back from you and hearing of the many artists that all of you are digging right now. As always, feel free to post comments directly to the blog, or write to americanareview@gmail.com.

Thanks again for your time everyone. We’ll catch up on Thursday May 20. Take care and safe travels, my friends.

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