My First AMERICANAFEST: An Apex Of Music Discovery & Industry Connection

When I slipped on my AMERICANAFEST (AF) bracelet, I didn’t really know what I was getting into.

There was excitement, but also a curiosity, because Americana music has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. I set out in the festival — which is not centralized in Nashville, but rather takes place at venues all throughout the city — to narrow down exactly what Americana music is, as if it would be so easy to attach the genre buzzwords I usually attach to music. Pop music is trendy and spunky, rock is edgy and cool, and country is twangy and traditional; AMERICANAFEST, though, shows that its namesake is more than genre identifiers; it’s an all-encompassing experience. 

The massive lineup at AF offers more than just one type of artist. This festival is a showcase of both new and old talent, welcoming artists and listeners of all walks of life to participate in the craftsmanship that is Americana music. It is a great way to see some of your favorites in the industry, but to also discover new, rising talent.  

I was lucky enough to not only witness incredible artists, but speak with folks in the industry who hold this festival close to their hearts. The opportunity to go to AF isn’t to be missed by fans and those in the music business alike, as the festival has panels and networking events for those looking to grow and learn in the industry.

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Here are a few highlights of my AF experience.

Medium Build @ Exit/In:

Having been on my wishlist to see live for quite a while, Medium Build began my week with his own words about Americana music. “What is Americana, anyway? Country music that doesn’t get played on the radio?” He proved himself to be far beyond that simplicity, offering an emotionally riveting set charged with his brutally honest and magical songwriting skills. Medium Build knows how to captivate an audience with just himself, as he performed solo on stage and didn’t lose my attention for even a minute. 

Medium Build’s career is a marvel to witness. Having just released his single “Cuz of U”, a sweet nod of gratitude to the family, friends, and hometown that raised him, this show at the famed Exit/In was a brilliant start to his almost entirely sold-out tour that will expand overseas.  

Medium Build // Photo by Madison Rambowski
Medium Build // Photo by Madison Rambowski

Lola Kirke @ Eastside Bowl:

In the middle of her tour, Lola Kirke stopped in to deliver a powerhouse performance at the AMERICANAFEST Day Stage at Eastside Bowl presented by WMOT & NPR. She has a vibe that supersedes her room-filling vocals, capturing the audience in her unique style. She is anything but traditional, bringing a new energy to Americana. She is magnetic on stage, as she performs with ease and distinctiveness. She makes it look like a breeze, making the audience feel right at home with her.

Kirke released her latest single “All My Exes Live in LA” in August, and will continue on her U.S. tour through November. 

Overall, AMERICANAFEST goes beyond expectations, and offers a ton. This unique experience gives opportunities both to artists and listeners, bringing the two close together through music discovery. As Medium Build said, “you all can come too- bring your lanyard.”

Featured photo: Medium Build // Photo by Madison Rambowski

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