Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Brand New Year

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope your holiday season was filled with much laughter, love, joy and enough relaxation to leave you refreshed and ready for a new year.  With the year 2014 just over a week old, it doesn’t hurt to take a quick look in the rear view mirror at the year that was 2013. 

Looking back on the previous year, it could be said with great confidence that this was the best year in the relatively short history of Americana.  The commercial success of The Lumineer’s and Mumford and Sons brought more fans to the format with everyone in the genre benefitting in some way.  Late night’s David Letterman and Jay Leno showcased Jason Isbell and Alabama Shakes on their shows, introducing those wonderful acts to a wider audience.  Even the Grand Ole Opry has clued in on the Americana movement with artists like Elizabeth Cook serving as regular performers on the show.  And, who could overlook the induction of Old Crow Medicine Show, clearly an Americana group, as members of the Opry.

Some great albums were released, including the aforementioned Isbell with Southeastern.  Patty Griffin released a stellar record with American Kid, Holly Williams asserted herself as an Americana mainstay with The Highway, and Ashley Monroe showed everyone why she’s a key gatekeeper to the classic country music sound with her release of Like a Rose.  There was so much great music released in 2013, it makes you wonder with anticipation what 2014 will bring. 

The Americana Music Association reported their most successful conference and festival which took place this past September.  The Awards presentation was one for the ages, as the Association honoured new and veteran acts alike with Shovels and Rope, and Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell leading the way with well deserved victories in their categories.  The conference and festival enjoyed record attendance in 2013, a clear indication that the art form is moving in the right direction.

The music community lost several significant artists as well.  The passing of J. J. Cale, Etta James, Jim Foglesong and most recently Ray Price has left a void in the community.  However, the loss of George Jones cannot be understated.  The passing of Mr. Jones, and his long time friend Mr. Price, to me was devastating to the older, more pure style of country music.  Indeed, it felt at the time like that pure sounding country music that I grew up on had passed away along with Mr. Jones.  And I believe, in some ways, it has.  Voices and talent like George Jones and Ray Price are generational.  They do not come along every day, which is what made them so special.  An old Keith Whitley song once said “Sad Songs and Waltzes aren’t selling this year”, and that’s been the way of mainstream country music for some time now.  My great wish for the coming year (or year’s) is for mainstream country to come back to its roots, if only just a little bit.  Recognize its rich and lengthy history, and embrace it.  Showcase it for the younger generation of fans that are following the music now, so they can see where the genre has been.  As Brad Paisley stated at the end of this past year, regarding the passing of Mr. Jones. “there’s a reason for all this ruckus.”  It was his way of encouraging young country fans to get out and learn about the music of George Jones.  I would encourage the same thing.  I would also add that while the younger fans are learning about George Jones, they also learn about Ray Price.

Having said all of that, it is not all doom and gloom.  I am looking forward to what 2014 can bring for all of us as music fans and those in the industry.  Two artists that I’ll be watching for this year are Sturgill Simpson and John Fulbright, as I believe they are poised for breakout success.  If anyone can bring back the classic country sound, it’s Sturgill Simpson.  John Fulbright is as strong a singer-songwriter as you will find, and this young man is in his early 20’s.  It’s exciting to this he hasn’t hit his peak yet.  Expect big things career wise from these two gentlemen in 2014, the talent is there and they are ready for the next level.

As for myself and Americana Review, expect more consistency and regularity in blog posts this year.  Thanks to you, the blog is now at a point where I feel that it’s time to take Americana Review to the next level as well.  It’s time to move everything over to its own site where more items and content can be provided for your enjoyment.  It has been a wonderful 4 years of writing about all of these wonderful, independent and creative artists, and I look forward to many more years of doing the same.  For that, I have to thank all of you, the readers, for your continued support.

I would also like to thank all of the artists, musicians, publicists, record label executives and my fellow bloggers for all of your support over the past year.  Keep the music coming folks, I love receiving new material to write about and promote to anyone who will listen.  Without any of you, this site is not possible.  Thank you all so much, and I wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

No comments:

Post a Comment