OK, now we’re finally starting to settle down to some sense of normalcy in Nashville’s music scene.
The 21st annual AMERICANAFEST® is set to take place Wednesday through Saturday, featuring scores of top-notch musical acts at various venues large and small around Music City. With the fest knocked out due to the pandemic last year —coupled with nearby Bonnaroo’s absence each of the last two summers — this will be the first full-fledged music fest to take place in two years.
TikTok stars have come and gone in the same period.
While the pandemic remains — you’ll have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccine or a recent negative test for entry to any of the venues — it’s essential for the safety of fans, artists and festival personnel alike, as well as a small price to pay (vaccinations are free, actually) at what is the biggest musical bang for your buck year in and year out.
Rest assured that any festival-sanctioned show has been curated for quality by the expert ears of Dana Strong, the fest’s longtime booker and producer, in conjunction with Executive Director Jed Hilly. You’ll recognize Hilly this week by sight — he’s always moving — and by sound from his overworked speaking voice that is a crackly rasp by Friday.
HERE’S A SUGGESTED ITINERARY FOR THIS WEEK:
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
- Middle Tennessee State University-based treasure WMOT/Roots Radio hosts a special edition of its regular Wired In show featuring golden-voiced singer Aoife O’Donovan (NOON), followed by Canadian guitarist/singer-songwriter Colin Linden (1pm) and Nashville hit country singer-songwriter and part of The Highwomen, Natalie Hemby (2pm), outside the long-awaited bowling alley-musical venue- bar-restaurant Eastside Bowl, 1508 Gallatin Pike in Madison, which officially opens Oct. 1.
The event is open only to festival wristband and badge holder or WMOT members, of which you absolutely should be one of as even a casual fan of roots music. WMOT’s Eastside Bowl stage is hosting dynamite concerts during the day throughout the festival. Listen to the Wired In show live on radio at WMOT-FM (89.5) and the video stream at livesessions.npr.org.
- Bluesy Mississippi singer-songwriter Paul Thorn (10pm), Nashville’s prolific folk-pop troubadour Tim Easton (11pm), and Nashville-based singer-songwriter David Newbould (11:59pm) at 3rd and Lindsley.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
The very best place to catch as many festival acts as possible under one roof has always been at the Cannery complex of stages in SoBro off Eighth Avenue South, and Thursday is just such a night. Here’s the stellar Thursday lineup:
- Po Ramblin’ Boys, ONE at Cannery, 6:30pm; O.N.E. The Duo, Cannery Ballroom, 6:45pm; TK & The Holy Know-Nothings, Mercy Lounge, 7pm; The Barefoot Movement, The High Watt, 7pm; Southern Avenue, Cannery Ballroom, 7:30pm; Never Come Down, The High Watt, 8pm; Ida Mae, Mercy Lounge, 8pm; Joshua Ray Walker, ONE at Cannery, 8:30pm; The Texas Gentlemen, Cannery Ballroom, 8:30pm; Sean Rowe, Mercy Lounge, 9pm; AJ Lee & Blue Summit, The High Watt, 9pm; Jackson + Sellers, Cannery Ballroom, 9:30pm; Bella White, ONE at Cannery, 9:30pm; Andrew Leahey & the Homestead, Mercy Lounge, 10pm; The Onlies, The High Watt, 10pm; Vincent Neil Emerson, ONE at Cannery, 10:30pm; Suzanne Santo, Cannery Ballroom, 10:30pm; Daniel Donato, Mercy Lounge, 11pm; Moonsville Collective, The High Watt, 11pm; Patrick Sweany, ONE at Cannery, 11:30pm; Natalie Hemby, Cannery Ballroom, 11:30pm; Bendigo Fletcher, The High Watt, 11:59pm; The Cerny Brothers, Mercy Lounge, 11:59pm.
- Away from the Cannery complex Thursday, check out buzzworthy new country singer Brittney Spencer at 3rd & Lindsley, 8pm.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
For Americana fans on a budget, Friday night has stellar options on both indoor and outdoor stages, including:
- On the West Side, Queen Esther (5:05pm), Chastity Brown (6:25pm), and the dynamic Aaron Lee Tasjan (8:10pm) compose a particularly strong edition of the annual early fall series Musicians Corner at Centennial Park.
- After Centennial Park, walk to the endangered historic jewel of a nightclub Exit/in to see bluesy Nashville-based singer-songwriter Bones Owens (10pm) and multiple Grammy Award-winning former Pentatonix singer Avi Kaplan (11pm).
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
- Open the festival’s last day extra early with Under the Sun with Sarah Darling, The Delevantes, Neal Francis, Ruthie Foster Great Peacock and 10 others at L27 Rooftop Bar at The Westin Hotel (10:30am).
- Time to bounce around on the last night of the festival, walking/trotting the few blocks from the Cannery complex and City Winery starting with Eli Paperboy Reed at Cannery Ballroom (7:30pm), Nashville soul and gospel treasures The McCrary Sisters (9pm), ageless R&B/soul singer Don Bryant (10pm) and Nashville singer-songwriter Kashena Sampson (11pm) at City Winery.
- Cap off the evening and festival with supercharged Chattanooga-based part-bluegrass, part Southern rock, part- folk/punk outfit Strung Like a Horse at the High Watt and Carolina Story at Mercy Lounge (11:59pm).