What is Americana music? The central and elusive question asked in the 13-year history of the Americana Music Festival & Conference was attempted to be put to rest in 2011 when the word was added to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. According to the dictionary listing, Americana is a “genre of American music with roots in early folk and country music.”
But what the definition achieves in brevity it fails in accuracy as the genre stretches far beyond early folk and country music. From Sept. 12–15 Nashville played host for the premier gathering of Americana’s industry professionals and fans, including roughly 150 performers. Though there is a unifying DIY ethos and a paramount focus on songwriting among Americana artists, the enthralled audience witnessed a sampler platter of performances that ranged from Canadian neo-folk duo Whitehorse to the hell-raising, guns-blazing red dirt band Reckless Kelly. Audience members would not be remiss if they questioned whether the diverse lineup of artists spawned from the same Americana family.