AmericanaFest UK 2019 Conference Showcase preview – part three

The AMAUK conference is now into its fourth year and one of the highlights is the two nights of showcases which take place before the awards ceremony featuring the best of americana talent, both homegrown and from around the world. At five venues across Hackney, all within walking distance and for price of one wristband, plus you get to go back to a nice comfy bed each night. Over the course of this week we’ll be introducing you to all the showcase acts playing, ten at a time. Here’s part three.

Martha L. Healy.  Scottish singer-songwriter, Martha L. Healy’s new album ‘Keep The Flame Alight’ was written and recorded in Nashville and sees her develop her personal songwriting voice whilst remaining true to the musical influences of her childhood. Recorded in Nashville, but influenced by Martha’s Celtic roots, she provides a fresh take on some classic themes: the need to leave somewhere to help find your place in the world; the ache of an unfulfilled love; the complexity of family and friendships, the need to live your own dreams; and how being a woman in the 21st century is not without its fair share of pressures and demands.

Noble Jacks.  With the fiddle leading the charge, Noble Jacks are out to take no prisoners as they come on with their high-energy footstompin’ rhythms which have taken crowds by storm across the UK. The duo have been touring relentlessly, stompin’ their way round the UK music scene with sold out headline shows promoting their debut album ‘What the Hammer,’ as well as shows at major festivals including Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival, and Beautiful Days, to name a few.

The Blue Highways.  Americana band, based out of Harrow, London, named for the forgotten highways and roads that linked American towns and cities. The Blue Highways take inspiration from American roots music and infuse it with their British sound and background

Caleb Caudle. Growing up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, singer-songwriter Caleb Caudle was raised on rock n’ roll and Southern hospitality. Influenced by bands like The Clash and Velvet Underground, Caudle was playing North Carolina’s punk rock circuit by the age of 15. He was recently dubbed “the musical equivalent of high-proof bourbon – rich in flavor, with a subtle, satisfying bite,” by Rolling Stone editors for their list of “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know”. He’s played Nashville’s famed AmericanaFest multiple times and his song, ‘Borrowed Smiles’ was featured on last season’s dramatic season finale of CMT’s Nashville.

Caroline Spence.  While Caroline Spence may not look like one of the road-hardened troubadours of America’s past, the young songwriter from Charlottesville Virginia is every bit as serious. Having won numerous songwriting awards from industry mainstays like the Kerrville Folk Festival and American Songwriter Magazine, she has garnered nods and admiration from both Miranda Lambert and her fellow writers in the Nashville underground. It’s is a rare but unmistakable authenticity and emotional resonance that can’t be faked, all delivered with a voice that somehow manages to be both ethereally pristine and yet profoundly raw and human.

Arkansas Dave. If you haven’t yet heard of Arkansas Dave, you’re in for a treat. The critically acclaimed Austin musician’s self-titled debut album is the story of his life-in the form of a searing and unforgettable blues rock epic. Pop Dose hailed the record as “nothing but pure goodness,” and to add even more flair and style to an already blistering blues record, Dave brought in the Swampers, the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. The road ahead may be smoother than what’s behind him, but it’s a road that’s yet to be travelled; a road Dave will pave through Nashville with his grit, determination and sheer musical talent.

Nicki Bluhm. After spending the last six years as lead singer and front person of Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, as well as recent high-profile collaborations and performances with the likes of Phil Lesh, Ryan Adams, and The Infamous Stringdusters, Bluhm has stepped out on her own with her new album ‘To Rise You Gotta Fall.’ Recorded in Memphis at legendary Sam Phillips Recording, Bluhm brought in producer Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell), and the end result heralds Nicki’s arrival as a songwriter and vocalist of great depth and immediacy.

Mike Farris.  According to Buddy Miller, Nashville based “Mike Farris has enough heart, soul, and power to light up a city. He mixes up the elements and turns them into something new, beautiful, and uniquely his own.” In 2015, he won Best Roots/Gospel Album at the Grammys for his acclaimed record ‘Shine For All The People’.

Ethan Johns with The Black Eyed Dogs. Ethan Johns is a UK based record producer, engineer, mixer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who has worked with artists including Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Paul McCartney, Ray LaMontagne, Tom Jones, Kaiser Chiefs, Rufus Wainwright, The Boxer Rebellion, Crowded House, The Vaccines, Laura Marling, The Staves, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. He plays AmericanaFest with the Black Eyed Dogs in what promises to be one of the festival’s most memorable shows.

Rachel Baiman. Rachel Baiman’s June 2017 label debut ‘Shame’ was featured on NPR’s “Songs We Love,” called a “Rootsy Wake-up Call” by Folk Alley, and described by Vice’s “Noisey” as “flipping off authority one song at a time.” As a teenager, Baiman found music to be a welcome escape from worrying about global politics but now says: “I love the political tradition of folk music, from Woody Guthrie to Tupac, and my hope is that this record adds another voice to it.”

You can pre-book a wristband from the AMAUK’s official site here. Early bird rates start at £22 (or £17 if you’re a member of the AMAUK). Join us tomorrow for part four.

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Author: Mark Whitfield

Mark Whitfield has been the Editor of Americana UK for the last 17 years and still feels like this is his pretend job, mainly because it is.

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