The good news for organizers of last weekend’s Americana 10 one-day musical festival in Liverpool was that it sold out. The asterisk is, capacity was 250.
Americana, that indefinable mixture of country, blues, folk and indie, remains a niche genre in the UK. But it also remains a niche in America, Americana-uk founder Mark Whitfield notes. While there are now stadium-filling bands that call themselves Americana, the roots of roots music are hardly household names in the U.S. either.
They are revered in their genre, however, which in the UK centers around the close-knit volunteers behind Americana-uk, the country’s biggest and most influential americana web site. It launched in 2001 with a party and some bands in what became known as Americana 1, and on Nov 12 celebrated its 10th year with Americana 10, a showcase of 11 UK bands and three acclaimed Americans: Richard Buckner, Richmond Fontaine members Willy Vlautin and Dan Eccles and Mark Eitzel.
Regretfully, I could not attend all day. The word on the UK bands from people who had been there all day was highly complimentary. I can certainly recommend Case Hardin‘s new album; Every Dirty Mirror has been in my iPod for months. (They may seem to be aping an American country sound, but further listening will dispell that notion.)
The ‘big names’ also delivered as expected. All three are lauded as the pick of current American songwriting, and a good representation of the breadth of musical styles that can fall under the Americana umbrella. Buckner’s set was folky and rocking (see album review below), Eitzel’s felt like a Tom Waits show (see my Why I’m Bullshit video) and Vlautin’s boozy set (see my $87… video) gave a taste of the bad boy side.
As for·Americana in the UK, is it going strong? Will there be an Americana 20? And where’s the women and children? Hear what Americana-uk’s Whitfield has to say above.