AmericanaFest Recap: Andy’s Americana Mitzvah At The Groove In East Nashville

AmericanaFest finally returned after a year-long hiatus, and roots music fans from around the world once again flocked to Nashville to attend the seemingly endless number of showcases and panels taking place throughout the city. 

On Saturday, the final day of the festival, festival goers were able to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Nashville and go to the East Nashville record shop, The Groove, to catch “Andy’s Americana Mitzvah,” a showcase featuring exciting acts such as Amy Lavere, Will Sexton, Hello June, Johnny Dowd, Jon Byrd, Paul Niehaus, Amelia White, and The Sweet Lillies.

The Groove, which has become a longtime staple of the music scene here in Nashville, has regularly hosted AmericanaFest parties and showcases in previous years.  

“We just enjoy having any and every kind of musical person around, and it’s always great to hear new stuff, too,” said co-owner Jesse Cartwright. “It’s like a family sitting in the backyard sitting around a campfire.”

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A big family sitting around a campfire is exactly what the showcase on Saturday felt like. Despite it being the last day of the festival, things were still in full swing. With clear skies and beautiful weather, it was the perfect day to sit outside and enjoy music with friends and music lovers of all cavalcades. People of all ages packed into The Groove’s small backyard, and the strong sense of community was immediately felt, as it often is. The vibe was laid back, welcoming, and intimate. 

“To not have it last year was terrible, but it’s great to be back,” said showcase organizer Andy Rubinski, who has attended the festival every year since the store’s inception in 2007. 2020 would have been his 13th AmericanaFest anniversary, hence the Mitzvah theme, but since last year was cancelled because of the pandemic, Rubinski decided it was time to finally throw a showcase of his own. 

I was able to catch the Denver-based Americana jamgrass band The Sweet Lillies, as they made their AmericanaFest debut, gracing The Groove’s tiny stage with their unique brand of fun and energetic sounds lush with infectiously catchy harmonies.

“We thought it was amazing. We love all the musicians, all the people, all the friends. We’re having a great time!” said Julie Gussaroff, the upright bass player for The Sweet Lillies. “It feels like coming out of a long sleep,” she added about finally being able to play shows again. 

Another standup performance was by the West Virginia based Americana band Hello June. Singer Sarah Ray’s serene vocals floated beautifully and effortlessly over the delicate and thoughtfully arranged instrumentation, and serenaded all in attendance. “The weather was beautiful and people were super responsive… it almost felt like a listening room,” said Ray.

“Andy’s Americana Mitzvah” was a resounding success, and was a great example of how AmericanaFest can so effectively bring people together in a number of different settings with the same objective in mind: enjoy the music.

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