This weekend, and part or all of the week leading into it, have Music City, a.k.a. Nashville, hosting the "Americana Music" convention. In fact the Americana Music Awards show was last evening in historic Ryman Auditorium.
"Americana." It's a fairly new name for a musical genre. I think I may have heard the term used while I was living in Texas; may even have encountered it during my previous residence in this state. But I've been almost immersed in it, sort of, since I moved to Nashville just over a year ago. WSM-AM 650, home radio station of the Grand Ole Opry show, will occasionally announce over the airwaves, that it's about to do some song "from the Americana files" of the station.
"Americana." I'm not exactly certain WHAT type of music this is supposed to be, other than I've heard that "roots music" used as a synonym. But this isn't much help, since I know even less about what "roots music" is! My initial deduction was that "Americana music" was some sort of a penumbra or an "aura" around out-right country music. That is, it encompassed country plus elements of other musical genres which either contributed to it or were influenced by it.
I did hear Eddie Stubbs, WSM's amazing fountain of all knowledge about country music (of the more traditional styles), comment about "Americana music" on his show one evening. I sure do wish I had written down notes about what he said! But from what I remember of his remarks, plus comments during this week on "Coffee Country & Cody", the station's wake-up week day show, I'm thinking it may be closer to a definition to say that it's any and all music produced IN these United States and performed by singers and/or musicians born in the USA. I don't know. . . perhaps "Americana music" is whatever the user intends by it!
But I do acknowledge that what I've heard on WSM or elsewhere that's labelled "Americana music" I like. But then again, I'm quite eclectic in my musical tastes. You, dear reader, will read much more on my blog here about country (and Western) music and Southern Gospel music than about other genres. The same's true on my earlier blog ("Glen Alan's San Antonio"). But please do NOT think for a skinny minute that I don't imbibe of many other musical genres and find them nearly as refreshing to my listening ears as C & W or So. gospel! I rejoice whenever I'm at a live outdoor jazz festival. . . I delight to sing the traditional hymns of the faith. . . I revel in a symphony orchestra's performance. . . And what I'd give to shake hands with Bach or Handel!
So, "Americana music", may you have a satisfying get-together here in Nashville.
And while we here are engrossed in this "Americana music" and hosting its convention, up to the north and east of us in Louisville they're hosting the annual gathering of a much older genre: Southern gospel music. It's called the National Quartet Convention. This used to be held here in Nashville, but just as I was getting captivated by SGM, Louisville lured the NQC away! Oh, well; perhaps that's all for the better for my wallet.
Southern Gospel is not only much older than Americana -- next year (2010) will be its centennial as an identified musical genre -- it was developed and identified right here in Tennessee, at Lawrenceburg, in 1910. And of course, with Nashville having so many publishing houses and already being the home of the Fisk Jubilee Singers (whose primary singing was spirituals) this city took an early prominence in the development and spread of Southern gospel. On that basis alone I believe it would only be right to return the NQC to Music City!