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 the 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 two.
Madison Violet. Together since 1999, the first thing you’ll notice when you hear Madison Violet is that their voices blend together, symbiotically, like family: born to sing the same songs. And over the past decade and a half, the pair have taken to genre-bending, moving effortlessly from folk to pop to electronic to Americana. In a word, they are musical chameleons. Over the years, Madison Violet have acquired quite a few accolades, including a Juno nomination, a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Vocal Group Album of the Year and a Critic’s Choice award from Country Music People Magazine.
Pretty Archie. Canadiana band from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Always jamming together growing up, five guys decided in 2012 to form a band. The band chose the name Pretty Archie after a local (Cape Breton) character known for playing with 2 strings outside shopping malls in any weather and not always (or ever) in key. The guys thought the name Pretty Archie embodied the love of playing and performing music along with representing their hometown.
Oh Susanna. Performing since 1996, Oh Susanna has released eight critically acclaimed albums. She is the recipient of a Genie Award for Best Original Song and a Canadian Folk Music Award for English Songwriter of the Year. She has also been nominated for two Juno Awards each for Best Roots and Traditional Album of the Year, as well as two Canadian Folk Music Awards for Best Solo Performer and for Best Contemporary Singer of the Year. In 2017, she released ‘A Girl in Teen City,’ an album of songs set in 1980s Vancouver starring a teenage punk girl named Suzie. The album has been met with high critical acclaim and has earned three Canadian Folk Music Award nominations: English Songwriter of the Year, Contemporary Singer of the Year, and Producer of the Year.
Harrow Fair. Harrow fair is Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner whose debut album ‘Call to Arms’ was recently released. One part stomping songs that echo early country and rock n roll. The other gritty ballads that sound sweet and haunted. This duo’s evocative and rapidly expanding collection of songs are utterly foreign, oddly familiar and deeply gratifying.
Kaia Kater. A Montreal-born Grenadian-Canadian, Kaia Kater grew up between two worlds: her family’s deep ties to folk music and the years she spent soaking up Appalachian music in West Virginia. Her old-time banjo-picking skills, deft arrangements, and songwriting abilities have landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK, garnering critical acclaim from outlets such as NPR, CBC Radio, Rolling Stone, BBC Music, and No Depression.
Jamie Freeman. One of the highlights of last year’s Black Deer Festival, Jamie Freeman’s music covers a lot of bases and testament to the quality of his songwriting is the roster of names happy to lend themselves to his projects, most recently co-writing with some of Nashville’s finest songwriters including Angaleena Presley, Amy Speace, Ben Glover, Michael Logen and Brandy Zdan. Larkin Poe, Brandy Zdan, Good Lovelies, BJ Cole, Richard Smith, Mark Chadwick and Wild Ponies have all collaborated on previous projects. His home away from home is Nashville, where he’s been a regular visitor for over a decade.
Police Dog Hogan. Police Dog Hogan are a hard-to-pin-down mix of Americana influences and British songwriting tradition. They combine fiddle, trumpet, banjo, mandolin, accordion, drums and guitars with four-part harmonies – then fuse it all into songs whose subjects range from shitty white wine to the first day’s battle at Passchendaele; from their trip to Nashville to being hung for stealing at Tyburn, taking in songs about love, loss and a boy growing up in the West Country along the way.
Wild Ponies. Although they’re based in Nashville, Wild Ponies have always looked to Southwest Virginia — where bandmates Doug and Telisha Williams were both born and raised — for inspiration. There, in mountain towns like Galax, old-time American music continues to thrive, supported by a community of fiddlers, flat-pickers, and fans. “We’ll always be the pinball that bounces between folk, rock & roll and country,” says Telisha, “and this Old-Time style will always weave its way through everything we do. It’s been there from the start, even on the loudest songs we’ve made.”
Amy Speace. Amy Speace is a folk singer, timeless and classic, and a bit out of her own era. “She has one of the richest and loveliest voices in the genre and her songs are luxuriously smart,” writes Craig Havighurst (host of Nashville’s “Music City Roots”). “She’s profoundly personal yet also a bit mythic.” Since her discovery in 2006 by folk-pop icon Judy Collins, Speace has been heralded as one of the leading voices of the new generation of American folk singers. Her song ‘The Weight of the World’ was named as the #4 Best Folk Song of the last decade by NYC’s premiere AAA radio station, WFUV and was recorded by Judy Collins.
Chance McCoy. Grammy-winning indie folk musician and guitarist for Old Crow Medicine Show. It’s been over nineteen years since OCMS’s humble beginnings. The band has gone on to receive the honour of being inducted as members of the Grand Ole Opry, and have won two Grammy Awards:“Best Folk Album” for ‘Remedy’ (2014) and “Best Long Form Music Video” for ‘Big Easy Express’(2013). Additionally, their classic single, ‘Wagon Wheel,’ received the RIAA’s Platinum certification for selling over 1,000,000 copies.
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 three.Please help to support americana in the UK by donating £2 a month to us - we'll send you an exclusive 20 track curated playlist every month plus the opportunity to win tickets and CDs. Click here for more information.