Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Year That Was and the Year That Is

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you had a great time these past couple of weeks enjoying the company of family and friends during the holiday season, whichever holiday you celebrate.

With the first week of 2012 now behind us, I wanted to take a quick look back at the past year and take a quick look forward in the year to come for Americana music.

I think we can safely say that 2011 was a banner year for Americana.  The year witnessed the breakthrough of The Civil Wars, the stellar songwriting duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White.  This is a duo that essentially came out of nowhere and managed to capture the attention and imagination of their audience by offering a sound that simply doesn't exist in any other format or genre today.  Their chemistry, both on and off the stage, is a beautiful and unique thing to see.  One has to witness it to truly appreciate it.  It is hard to believe they are married, but not to each other.  They will be back on the road in 2012, and hopefully will have new music to promote while on tour.  

One of the great stories to emerge from 2011 was what seems to be the emergence of arena folk.  For example, British Americana band Mumford and Sons moved from playing theaters and clubs to performing for sold out audiences at venues such as the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and Copps Coliseum in nearby Hamilton, Ontario.  Audiences of roughly 20,000 people were filling huge arenas to witness an Americana act.  Recently, The Avett Brothers have been able to make the move to arenas as well, as evidenced with their recent shows at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and the Bi-Lo Center in Asheville, North Carolina.  Clearly a number of factors came in to play for this to happen, but I think it comes down to new found exposure.  Mumford and Sons have found a place on mainstream radio in some markets, but I believe the appearance of Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers at last year's Grammy Awards televised tribute to Bob Dylan cannot be understated.  It is a clear indication of what can happen when great music is exposed to the masses.  I believe people are longing for something real, something honest musically speaking, and they are finding that in the Americana genre.

On a personal note, last year saw this site grow in audience to where it's now averaging 300 visits a month with readers from around the world.  That may sound like a small number, and it is, but for a guy who started writing this a year and a half ago on a whim, that's a big number.  Especially when I haven't really advertised the site to anyone.  That will change this year, along with some other changes that will be more efficient to the site and to those who read and follow whatever is posted here.  

Looking forward to 2012, all I can say is that I'm excited for the future of this genre.  I can't wait to see who the next breakthrough act will be, and the next act to make the big jump to the arena stage.  I think we can expect big things from emerging acts like Deadman and The Vespers.  Trevor Finlay is set to have a busy 2012, hitting the road with new music in tow.  I look forward to catching up with Trevor down the road.  The Americana Music Conference and Festival takes place in Nashville, Tennessee September 12 to 15, 2012, an event that is not to be missed.  I'll be there for my second conference and festival, where I look forward to getting together with the people I met last year.  

I believe 2012 will be the biggest year in Americana history, with many great stories to be told.  I'm excited to be a part of it, no matter how big or small that part may be.  Happy New Year my friends, and all the best to you and your families.

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