AmericanaFest UK 2020 Conference Showcase preview – part three

The AMAUK conference is now into its fifth year. One of the highlights of the conference is the two nights of showcases which take place before the awards ceremony on 28th/29th January featuring the best of americana talent, both homegrown and from around the world. At six venues across Hackney, all within walking distance and for the price of one wristband which you can buy here, plus you hopefully 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, in a kind of alphabetical order, if you’re not very good at the alphabet. You know us and the alphabet. Here’s the third part.

Ira Wolf. Hailing from the mountains of Montana, and making a home in Nashville, TN, Ira Wolf’s music and writing is vulnerable, honest, and “delightfully subtle.”  With three studio albums to share, Ira has performed on stages across the US, the UK, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia since she began touring in 2014. She draws from personal experience, and connects on an intimate level with her audience through her honest lyrics and melancholy vocals. With roots in folk, americana and bluegrass genres, Ira has found a unique sound that resonates with an eclectic listening crowd.

Irish Mythen. Irish Mythen was born in Ireland and now resides in Charlottetown Prince Edward Island Canada. “This Island creates music and musicians, art and artists. I found a shift to take things more seriously when I moved here.” And she did just that. Her latest release, the self titled Irish Mythen, gained her recognition around the globe with nominations and wins coming from Music PEI, East Coast Music Association, Folk Alliance International and Socan. Write-ups in Australian Guitar Magazine, the Rolling Stone, and a plethora of online publications world wide have helped plant Irish firmly on the map of ‘Must See Artists’. We saw her at Black Deer last year – believe the hype.

Izaak Opatz. Izaak Opatz is “a mountain man (from Montana)! He works in National Parks, cutting trails through the woods, probably wearing a vest or a funny hat and crapping in holes in the ground that he digs with an antique little folding shovel (maybe). See him live, just once, and you may notice yourself imagining your life at home with your very own Izaak, living in the basement, teaching your wife and children how to tie knots… He’s part of the family now. If he sticks around a night or two, you may feel compelled to offer up your prettiest daughter’s hand in marriage. But take warning, dear readers, if you turn your back on him for even one minute, he’ll probably wander back up the mountain and give up whatever it is you offer.”

Izzie Walsh. Singer-Songwriter Izzie Walsh and her band have been performing across the UK taking popular venues and turning them into Tennessee front porches.  Presented the Horizon Act and Best Band awards by the British Country Music Association, Izzie is always accompanied by an ensemble of traditional instruments such as banjo, mandolin and dobro that create a modern twist alongside double bass and drums. With previous festival appearances including the Ramblin’ Roots Revue, Buckle & Boots and Bluedot audiences can expect to be treated to their unique blend of contemporary Country and Bluegrass.

Jack Klatt. Musical missionary, tireless troubadour and producer Jack Klatt isn’t one to be easily categorized or relegated to a  narrow niche. He comes across as a young man with a wizened and worldly perspective, an artist who possesses a timeless sensibility of both place and purpose. Yet his artistic integrity extends to more than simply his songs. It embodies both execution and intent – the way he’s mastered his deft finger-picking technique and used that sturdy approach to bring his material an authenticity reminiscent of the most revered musicians and storytellers.

Jonah Tolchin. Jonah Tolchin has wrestled with a wellspring of emotions in his 27 years, and in the process, has consistently found the means of integrating his sentiments into his songs. It’s been a relatively brief progression as far as his career is concerned, but the maturity and musical progression he’s tallied in that short time has been shared in sync with his coming of age. On his new Yep Roc album ‘Fires for the Cold’ Tolchin lays bare the conflicts and quagmires that have engulfed him over the course of the last few years.

Jonathan Wilson. Jonathan Wilson was born in Forest City, North Carolina and raised in nearby Spindale, North Carolina. His father was a bandleader of a rock group for 35 years and his grandfather a Baptist pastor whose services Wilson was often invited to play at. Wilson has cited his upbringing in North Carolina and the state’s rich musical heritage as an early influence, and is credited with revitalizing the Laurel Canyon music scene with the help of friends – he has hosted private jam sessions at his compound in Laurel Canyon that involved the likes of Andy Cabic, Pat Sansone and John Stirratt of Wilco, Gary Louris and Mark Olson of The Jayhawks, David Rawlings, Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Jakob Dylan.

Joshua Burnside. Joshua Burnside is a Northern Irish folk singer-songwriter based in Belfast. His music incorporates elements of Irish folk, rock, Americana, world music, sound collage and electronica, and his debut album ‘Ephrata’ was written in Colombia and incorporates Columbian rhythms, as well as Colombian-inspired lyrical themes referencing the likes of Jaime Garzón. Ephrata was awarded the Northern Ireland Music Prize Best Album award in 2017. Culture Northern Ireland have compared Burnside’s musical style to that of Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, and Tom Waits, all of whom he has noted as personal inspirations.

Judy Blank. Judy Blank is a Dutch singer-songwriter from Utrecht. She became known for her participation in the second season of the best singer-songwriter in the Netherlands in 2013, where she had to beat Michael Prins in the final – the year she was also on the stage of the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, with Seasick Steve attending her performance. In 2014 she released her debut album ‘When The Storm Him’ during North Sea Jazz.

Kerri Watt. Kerri Watts’ Celtic roots are embedded in the streets of Glasgow where poets grow and strong hearts rule. Her current embracing of Americana is not fashion or vogue; this sound was fused when the then 16-year-old Kerri ventured solo to California. She blazed a trail through prestigious venues from West Coast to East Coast across the US honing her craft in places such as Whisky a Go Go in L.A., The Basement in Nashville and NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall. Kerri fell in love with America and its music. Kerri’s engaging live performances have led to her playing Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, Secret Garden Party and Cornbury festivals in the UK. Signing to both Cooking Vinyl Records and Publishing in early 2019, Kerri is set to continue her exciting journey this year building toward the release of her debut album – recorded in Austin, TX with producer Machine – in the near future.

Kyshona. Kyshona has always lent her voice and music to those that feel they have been silenced or forgotten. She began her career as a music therapist, writing her first songs with her patients–the students and inmates under her care. She soon found the need to write independently and find her own voice, and= endeavour which led her to the fertile ground of the Nashville creative community and songwriting culture. Since then, she has learned how to balance her music career with her passion to heal the hurting. Audiences will, she says, “find a common thread of empowerment, overcoming adversity, and finding hope in my work.”

Lady Nade.   This Bristolian Singer-Songwriter fills your heart with words and melodies that nourish both body and soul. Apparently “Within a minute of hearing Lady Nade’s voice, this soulful experimental folk-jazz pop balladeer will make you feel as if she’s an old friend” – or maybe she just wants you to get the round in.

Lennie Gallant. Recognized by his peers as one of Canada’s best performing songwriters, Lennie Gallant has released thirteen albums (10 in English and 3 in French) of original songs which have won him a host of awards and nominations from the JUNOs, Les Prix Eloizes, and The East Coast Music Awards, including 2017 ECMA Entertainer of the Year. His double CD of the 22 songs from his hit production Searching For Abegweit which ran for 173 shows, also won him an ECMA. He was named Canadian Folk Artist of The Year for 2016 and his song ‘Peter’s Dream’ was voted one of the Top Ten East Coast Songs of All Time and was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Lucy Feliz. Expressed in a hybrid of psych-folk, dream pop and luminous nostalgia, Lucy Feliz comes to terms with shame and mortality by embracing the irony in optimism, and exploring polarities in human experience. After recording a new album in NZ with Bed Edwards (Julia Jackin, Aldous Harding) – the evolution from self-recorded debut ‘Ancestry’ (under alias LosFeliz) – has retained the intimacy of Lucy’s songwriting, yet allowed greater scope for the immersive feel, with plumes of luscious sound walls and flowering lyricism.


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Author: Mark Whitfield

Mark Whitfield has been the Editor of Americana UK for the last 19 years and still feels like this is his pretend job, mainly because it is.

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