In March 2009 No Depression published a list of radio stations and podcasts with an Americana focus. In 2020 most of those are long gone so, time for a new list. Dropping a search for Americana into Spotify, Tunein, Mixcloud or any of the other portals will find more options than you can shake a banjo at. Many of them give only a passing glance to “our” sort of music, but there are plenty that offer a stream of old favourites and new delights. Here then is our current top 10, so in no particular order, here we go.
10. The Americana Music Radio Show
Our esteemed Editor introduced us to Charles Christian’s British based Americana Music Radio Show last autumn. There are now 36 episodes available with the most recent featuring Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, Samantha Fish, and Athens Creek. Christian’s presenting style is clear and straightforward, with the focus on the music. There are usually some videos to accompany the show, and you can find it syndicated to radio stations all round Europe Australia and North America.
9. Blair’s Blues and Other News
Despite the name this describes itself as “The Finest Americana from both sides of the pond”. Blair Chadwick is another British presenter whose show crosses back across the Atlantic. With occasional shows devoted to single artists, Chadwick spends more time explaining the song choices than Christian, but also focuses on less well-known acts. There are 60 shows for your listening pleasure so far, available on most of the major platforms
8. Blues and Roots Radio Worldwide
Chadwick’s show is one of those featured on this Canadian station. “50 Radio Shows From Around The World Playing Roots, Blues, Contemporary Folk, Celtic, Bluegrass, Americana and more 24/7”. There really is something for everyone here, and if it isn’t all to your taste, then as well as the linear radio stream there is an app that allows you to choose your listening.
7. The Americana Music Show
Now stretching to 446 episodes Calvin Powers Podcast covers the widest possible definition of Americana. The hour-long shows can range from Country Soul to Bluegrass, to Indie Rock. The show’s titles don’t seem to have any connection to the music played, and he has an engaging, informed presenting style, and his occasional interviews are always good value.
6. Americana Station
Americana Station provides “a look into the mind of Nashville’s songwriters and musicians through interviews, music and more.” While some of the content is a bit country-oriented, the interviews are in-depth and usually a fascinating look at the songwriting process from often lesser-known people working at the coal face.
5. Acoustic Café
A two-hour weekly radio show hosted by Rob Reinhart since 1995, features many of the best established and upcoming artists. The most recent features Steve Earle. Other recent guests include Calexico + Iron & Wine and Waxahatchee. The archive of artist performances is usually about half an hour long and includes interviews and acoustic songs. Laura Marling’s show from April is particularly strong, and while Reinhart’s delivery and editing is a bit wayward at times the music makes this a worthwhile listen.
4. Mountain Stage
Another long-standing American radio show, syndicated to 200 NPR and other stations, online which includes videos and as a podcast. The radio show is currently airing “Gems from the Archive” as the live shows are on hold, which makes the Podcast the place to go. This show seems to draw exceptional performances from the artists. They also travel to festivals in including in 2011 the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow. There are clips of the short-lived TV series and videos of more recent performances on their YouTube channel as well.
3. The Working Song Writer
Another interview based Podcast. Singer Joe Pug talking shop with his peers. Jesse Dayton, Courtney Marie Andrews and Birds of Chicago are highlights of this 60 part podcast. As a fine songwriter himself you would expect Pug to draw his guests out and indeed he does, digging deep into the motivation behind his guests’ creative drive, and passion for their music.
2. American Roots Radio
A streaming radio station covering literally every type of American based roots music you could imagine. Why listen to this rather than Spotify? The beauty of radio is always the unexpected song that you would never have come across looking for yourself. Featured on all the internet radio platforms, this station is one you can keep on in the background listening with one ear, filling your day with Americana.
1. Radio Bristol Americana
Bristol Virginia that is. Based in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, their Americana channel features mostly well-known songs and artists, but if you want to hear all the hits all the time, this is the place to go. They play quite a few live sessions as well from their own stage Almost as good is their other channel WBCM which has a more country flavour, but still features a good variety of music. The only downside to this station is the fairly low bit rate audio, but if you are listening on a phone it is more than acceptable.
And there you have it. 10 places to find music during the current unpleasantness that will keep on giving long after. If I haven’t included your favourite leave a comment and we will try it out. The AUK team can never get enough Americana.