There’s no denying the wealth of options and choices when it comes to the awesome array of artists and ensembles found at AmericanaFest in Nashville each September. Indeed, with well over 200 concerts and showcases representing a broad sweep of styles and genres under the increasingly vast Americana umbrella, this year’s festival, belatedly returning after 2020’s Covid cancellation, offered as plentiful an array as ever.
Of course, one of the real joys AmericanaFest has to offer is not only the opportunity to enjoy more familiar fare, but also to discover new up-and-coming performers who are showcasing their music for the first time. This is, after all, an event dedicated to maintaining a tradition that constantly evolves, expanding its template while offering opportunities for musicians to share their efforts and achieve recognition in the process.
Those that stand out do so not only through the strength of their songs, but through their performances and presentation. It’s no easy task, yet the array of talent that rises to the fore bodes well for the future, due to innovation, imagination, craft and creativity.
Here, then, is a compendium of the ten best new artists that shared both their skills and savvy at AmericanaFest 2021.
Pete Muller and The Kindred Souls Given their four-part harmonies, Pete Muller and The Kindred Souls lived up to their handle with a robust performance at the City Winery. Sharing a series of upbeat and effusive tunes embossed by keyboards, guitar, fiddle and percussion, the group’s vibrant delivery was clearly imbued with populist precepts. Muller himself is the child of immigrant parents and throughout his career, he became deeply involved with educational outreach. Such sincerity shines through.