2014 was an unbelievable year for Americana music. This movement has some serious legs to it, with each passing year reaching higher and higher levels of popularity, and a platitude of new artists that are pushing the genre to new heights. Indeed, it is the artists themselves who are largely responsible for Americana's continued rise in popularity on the North American musical landscape. For each album like Jason Isbell's "Southeastern" in 2013, there comes a release in 2014 like Sturgill Simpson's "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music." The artists themselves are pushing each other to new creative heights, and we as fans are the beneficiary.
Others are taking notice. For example, I could not have sat here five years ago and claimed that immensely popular artists like Zac Brown and Eric Church would step up to become torch bearers for Americana music. The opening act on Zac Brown's tour last year was none other than Sturgill Simpson. Eric Church was wise enough to have the legendary Dwight Yoakam as the opener on his "Outsiders" tour. This year, Mr. Church has gone a step further, as he's enlisted four major players for rotating dates on his 2015 continuation of the "Outsiders" tour, including The Drive-by Truckers and The Lone Bellow. Considering Zac Brown and Eric Church play large arenas, amphitheaters and occasionally stadiums, the exposure for the Americana artists on these shows is immeasurable.
We can also look to David Letterman as another torch bearer for Americana. Taking on the role of a pseudo Dick Clark, Mr. Letterman has been very gracious with his time to showcase many Americana artists on his stage, including the aforementioned Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson. Couple this with high quality releases, and the continued rise in popularity is a no-brainer. People will always come back to what is real, and Americana music is nothing else if not real.
There have been some great releases already to kick off 2015, with Justin Townes Earle's "Absent Father's" and Cody Canada and the Departed's "Hippie Love Punk" hitting shelves on January 13th. Ryan Bingham released "Fear and Saturday Night" on January 20th, and on January 27th, The Lone Bellow issues their latest project "Then Came the Morning." Some February releases include Bob Dylan ("Shadows In The Night"), Gurf Morlix ("Eatin' at Me"), Robert Earl Keen ("Happy Prisoner"), Gretchen Peters ("Blackbirds"), Blackberry Smoke ("Holdin' All The Roses"), Steve Earle and the Dukes, Whitehorse, James McMurtry, Noah Jane Struthers and so many more that it's hard to keep count. Other spring releases include new projects by Brandi Carlisle, Allison Moorer, and Joe Pug. So many great artists, all stepping up their game in the name of music and creativity.
This is going to be a great year folks. Hold on for a wild and exciting ride.