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americana a new genre


Hasnt this been around awhile? I kind of thought is was like folk blended with country but without the drawl and dumbed down lyrics?
Dont know, So what is americana and what are some of the good bands out there doing it?


The term may, or may not, be new as applied to older bands, but the older bands now termed Americana (such as the Band) were just squeezed out of the rock/pop/country genres that used to be a bit less monolithic in sound styles. (i.e. Johnny Cash being "Country" as was discussed recently). It's just changes in name and thinking.

I think there's just an overabundance of terms and definitions of who is and who isn't some term.


Dont know, So what is americana and what are some of the good bands out there doing it?
Steve Earle (post-prison)
John Hiatt
Joe Ely
James McMurtry
Buddy and Julie Miller
Patty Griffin
Emmylou Harris
Shelby Lynne
Rosanne Cash

That should get you goin'...


Student of Life
Gold Supporting Member
I've heard acts like John Mellencamp and Emmylou Harris labeled Americana since the 80s. RedDirt (Oklahoma) Texas Music, Outlaw Country seem to be fairly similar/interchangeable labels, though all a bit different.

JB Eckl

Silver Supporting Member
I agree with all the posts above, but I wanted to add something I see as vital to Americana.

The newly-minted Grammy category for Americana has two black artists up for the award this year: Allen Toussaint and Mavis Staples. It's very interesting because neither of them touches the country twang thing normally associated with Americana, yet they are revered by all the go-to traditional (white) Americana artists from The Band to Ry Cooder to Jeff Tweedy on down.

I see this as a healthy sign for the genre. Something with a designation as sweeping and inclusive as 'Americana' surely goes beyond the scope of 'thinking man's country' or 'non Nashville pop country' or whatever. The real story of American music is one of collaboration and cross-pollination, not the isolated genres that marketers have given us over the last 100 years. A quick look at documentaries like 'Muscle Shoals' or 'Standing in the Shadows of Motown' shows this beyond a doubt.

Here's the Americana Music Association's working definition (and I would take them at their word, since heroes like Buddy Miller are in the mix over there): "Americana is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band."

Pretty interesting.

So from that perspective, we see some possibilities that go way beyond alt.country etc; something potentially very significant. Going back to the Band with Mavis, the Beatles with Billy Preston, the Stones with Merry Clayton etc, you see the way rock & roll incorporated these traditions went beyond the imitation of black forms and into actual collaboration... and the results were magical, even historic.

So it's time to re-frame Americana, from its image as the province of dusted-off retro white music (which may not actually be that anyway) to the diverse, evolving roots-inspired melange of musics that could have only happened under one bizarre set of circumstances: America.


Americana is nothing more than American roots music ranging from Gospel, Blues, Country, Jazz, String Band etc..


Silver Supporting Member
The OP may also be confusing the Americana genre with the No Depression genre. In short that started the modern, indie Americana for newer artists. Bands like Uncle Tupelo (the name taken from their Album "No Depression"), Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams, Son Volt, Wilco, Old '97's, Drive By Truckers, My Morning Jacket, The New Pornographers, Neko Case, etc

But Americana music has been around forever. It's a catch all for Folk, Country, "Old Timey", Bluegrass or any form of Rock and Pop taht incorporated those styles.


Platinum Supporting Member
Hasnt this been around awhile? I kind of thought is was like folk blended with country but without the drawl and dumbed down lyrics?
Dont know, So what is americana and what are some of the good bands out there doing it?
In '05 the record label I was with wanted to label me "Americana," which at that time simply meant American roots based music...think anything from blues to rock & roll like Tom Petty, John Cougar Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, etc. Now it means modern bluegrass and mountain influenced music...at least that's my perspective seeing the charts and listening to "Americana" playlists.


Dang Twangler
Silver Supporting Member
It's where you'll find all the bands that posters in the "Guitar-based music is DEAD!" threads are ignoring for whatever reason.

My soapbox: recorded music is more democratized than ever. There's more new music coming out than ever before. If you don't like what's on XM 25, you can and should try XM 28, 30 or 32. Find a great band, pay for their records, go see their shows. Be a part of the solution. No one is forced to listen to Katy Perry. :D

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