International Update: Behind the scenes at the Americanafest 2015

Friday, 02 Oct 2015

Mark Moffatt, APRA AMCOS’ Nashville representative, is also on the board of the Americana Music Association and he shares his wrap on the 2015 festival, awards & conference along with Dobe Newton, the co-writer (with Bruce Woodley) behind the famous I Am Australian song.

Singer, percussionist and now music business lecturer, Dobe Newtown, said “This was the sixth year Sounds Australia has been involved in Americanafest, which is rightly described by the New York Times as ‘today's coolest music scene.’ There’s some 3,000 registrants, 1,500 industry delegates, more than 50 industry panels and 150 evening showcases featuring the world's best. What's not to love?”

What is Americana music?

Mark Moffatt said “Americana is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American ‘roots music’ styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues. Contemporary is the key word.”

What’s Australia’s role in Americanafest?

“The Americana community in the US recognises Australia as one of the most vibrant and important markets in the world for this music. Events like these not only reinforce that viewpoint but spotlight Australian artists in a setting with much greater showcase attendance and industry access than many other US festivals,” Mark said.

“Thirty five Australian artists featured at four events during the week. We started with Australiana at Americana, a series of ‘in the round’ writer shows at The Bluebird Café, which is an iconic performance space now owned by the Nashville Songwriters Association,” he said.

“Australian writers who performed were One Up Two Down, Kirsty Lee Akers, Bill Jackson and Pete Fidler, Amber Lawrence, Matt Ellis, Loren Kate, Allan Caswell, Teischa Jones, Dan Parsons, Tracy McNeil, Geoff Achison, Daniel Champagne, Kristy Cox, Imogen Clark, Liz Stringer.

“Many of these talented songwriters, like Kirsty Lee Akers, have taken part in SongHubs in Nashville and Nashville Connect get togethers, so that ‘education and opportunity’ combination is really working well here.”

“The Bluebird Café shows were well attended both by Australian fans and friends along with the consistently high number of US visitors, perhaps also attracted by publicity the US TV series “Nashville” has given The Bluebird Cafe,” Mark said.

What happened at the Awards (or more importantly, afterwards)?

“The Americana Honours and Awards show on the Wednesday evening is the official festival kick off event, staged at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium,” Mark continues.

“Sounds Australia and Groovemerchants (MGM) borrowed from a grand old Nashville tradition and partnered to host a post-awards industry function at Legends Bar on the newly restored Ryman Alley. The timing and location were perfect, with industry invitees walking across the fabled alley to attend before heading off to the evening’s many showcase events,” Mark said.

Who took part in the Australian/Americana Showcase?

“The five official Americana Association showcase recipients were Halfway, Raised By Eagles, Oh Pep! , Henry Wagons and Emma Swift all of whom had prime spots on one of the main night showcase venues throughout the week,” Mark said.

“Sounds Australia also featured these five artists each playing a short set on their “Taste of Australia” Friday lunchtime concert at Soulshine Pizza. Glenn Dickie, Sounds Australia, did a fabulous job hosting the show which played to an audience packed with US industry tastemakers.

“The Aussie Barbeque at the famous 5 Spot on Saturday featured a line-up including the above showcase artists along with visiting Australian artists Roller One, Josh Rennie-Hynes, Ruby Boots, Liz Stringer, Steve Grady and Liam Gerner. East Nashville’s creative community came out in strength for the show.

“Aussie activities for the week concluded on Sunday with the Sister City Jam at the Blue Bar hosted by Dobe Newton featuring many of the artists ourtlined plus performances by Imogen Clark, Ainsley, Brad Butcher, Julie Kember, Janine LeClair and Sue Ray. A highlight was a visit from Clare Bowen, star of the Nashville TV series, who attended to see her brother Tim perform with Imogen Clark.

Dobe Newtown said, “Having an official APRA AMCOS representation here in Music City continues to make a huge difference in helping our writers and performers gain entry to the their most significant market. It was another wonderful year at one of the world's great festivals. Roll on 2016!"

Mark Moffatt is a musician and producer based in Nashville and is the APRA AMCOS Member Relations Representative, available on email.


Tags: aprap
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