It's the final night of the 2014 Americana Music Festival and Conference, and the final event of a spectacular five day run. Lucinda Williams is about to begin a last minute invitation-only performance at the newly opened City Winery in Nashville. But first, Americana Music Association Executive Director Jed Hilly walks to the microphone. Americana is now a very real, living, and breathing genre that finally found true context, he declares.
It's a statement that's obvious to all who attend, as evidenced through the music, through the bonds of fellowship, through the shared experiences that ebbed and flowed throughout the festivities. Yet, what Hilly doesn't point out, but what is equally true, is that the term Americana may have finally outgrown its initial meaning. For what had begun as a broad patchwork of singer/songwriters with a feel for the heartland and a scrappy roots rock, alt-country sound has now found a larger audience, one that embraces artists from all over the world -- from the U.K. and Europe to the far realms of the Pacific. Indeed, the very term "Americana" seems something of a misnomer now, especially considering the international evocation.