A Brief Introduction.
To start with, I am always being asked to define 'Americana' music. In some ways my definition is a cop out! I actually hate titles, but they are impossible to avoid when you make your living from lecturing on specific categories. I could have called the genre 'Country', but to so many people this conjures up a picture of the glossy Nashville brand, which for my money it definitely is not. Alt. Country, Country Rock etc. could have been used, but these are too limiting & really only apply to the last 35 years. I believe that the first time I saw the term Americana was in a review of the first album by 'The Band'. As has always been said their music covers a wide spectrum of American roots music styles, which plays nicely into my hands! So, to get back to the earlier question; I define Americana as 'music that either is old time country ('Hillbilly') or has its roots there. I realise that many people looking through the list that follows will have problems relating some of the more recent artists to the old timers, but almost without exception they play the music they love playing irrespective of sales figures, which surely, was exactly what the early musicians did. No doubt they would all like to have multi million sales figures, but that is not their driving force.
A couple of years ago Jay farrar told me that he had got the song 'No Depression' from his childhood memories of a compilation of old time music that his mother constantly played. Bill Mallonee (of 'Vigilantes of Love') loves the early Blues, much of which is impossible to seperate from early 'Country'.
A number of other musicians I have met have also claimed to be heavily influenced, not only by the likes of Hank Williams, Gram Parsons, or the Carter Family, etc. but also by the early Blues players (White & Afro American). So, basically it's all in the melting pot.
Should anyone feel a need to discuss any of the points, my email address is on the opening page.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY FIRST!
1736 – Hanover County, Virginia hosts America’s first fiddling contest
1830 – Virginia native, Joel (a.k.a. Joe) copyrights the 5 string Banjo.
1839 – Swiss singing group, the Tyrolese Rainer Family tours the U.S. Their alpine harmonies & yodeling inspire the formation of like minded singing groups in rural America.
1865.- End of the civil war. It accounted for the lives of 615,000 men, of which about 225,000 were killed in action & 390,000 died of disease. There were 1.1 million total casualties.
1876 - Custers last stand at the Little Big Horn
1877 – Thomas Edison files patents on the cylinder playing phonograph.
Gunfight at the O.K. corral.
1887 – Emile Berliner, who had earlier invented the microphone, invents the first gramophone, a flat record player with an acoustic horn.
The kodak box camera is introduced.
The Oklahoma land rush.
A toymaker (Kammerer & Reinhardt) starts making Berliners hand wound gramophones that play 5 inch discs. Frank Goedde, a piccolo player, makes the first commercial cylinders, for the north American Phonograph Company, who had purchased the rights from Edison in 1888.
First public showing of an Edison Kinescope.
Berliner launches the United States Gramophone Company, from Washington D.C.
The first recording studio opens over a shoe shop in Philadelphia, where Berliner also opens the first record shop. The Sousa band releases several dance records.
Eldridge Johnson perfects the first system of mass duplication of pre recorded discs. Johnson improves on Berliners methods by mastering on wax instead of the acid etching method, & by using several metal positives which each make multiple stampers.