Americana Fans Get Their Kicks With New Compilation
Association for Independent Music-sponsored sampler shows off eclectic roots-oriented movement.
Reprinted from Sonicnet.com News
Contributing Editor Lauren Schmitzer reports:
NASHVILLE – The eclectic mix of roots-oriented musical styles known as Americana is formalizing its marketplace approach and offering an alternative for anyone disenchanted with the formulaic tendencies of country radio.
Now, a collection of Americana artists and labels, drawing on elements of country, folk, blues, bluegrass and rock, have banded together for the Association for Independent Music’s first Americana sampler Get Your Kicks, released at the annual AFIM Convention from Wednesday through Sunday in Cleveland.
|“Americana is music for the people, by the people. Rather than being hatched in some producer’s limo … this music is made by real working musicians.”
– Mark Montgomery,
Echo Music co-owner
“Contrary to [what country radio programmers believe], some people are interested in more than 150 songs spun continuously for two week stretches,” said Mark Montgomery, album co-sponsor and co-owner of Echo Music – whose artists the Floating Men are featured on the album with “Lemon Pie.”
Get Your Kicks includes tracks by established artists such as Jerry Reed, represented by “Pickin’;” singer/songwriter Larry Cordle, who wrote and recorded the controversial “Murder on Music Row” before George Strait recorded it; and folk-blues master Doc Watson.
Rising artists such as Trout Fishing in America, Kenny Butterill and Dan Tyminski also contributed to the 20-track collection.
‘For The People, By The People’
“Americana is music for the people, by the people,” Montgomery said. “Rather than being hatched in some producer’s limo on the way to buy bottled water, this music is made by real working musicians with very few creative restraints.”
Fred Vail, chairman of the AFIM Americana Special Interest Group (founded in 1997), proposed the idea for this sampler at last year’s convention. The Americana sampler is the first such project to result from AFIM efforts.
“With this album, we wanted to create a marketing vehicle for independent artists who are part of the Americana scene to get their product out to both industry and consumer audiences,” said Vail, who also owns two labels of his own.
“Many Americana labels are artist-owned. They want more visibility but are on tighter budgets [than major labels]. This sampler is a good way to spread the expense across the board.
Vail added: “We didn’t want this to be a typical compilation that gets mailed out and sits on people’s desks. We wanted to create an awareness of Americana music and get more bang for our buck.”
Get Your Kicks will be pushed outside the AFIM Convention, as well, with promotions to AFIM member national and regional distributors and retail outlets such as Wal-Mart and Borders.
Butterill hopes his cut on the sampler, “Balsam Lake,” complements the recent release of his debut album No One You Know (No Bull Songs) in the U.S.
“[We] all know how noisy the marketplace is and there is an awesome amount of great music out there, especially in the Americana area,” Butterill said. “Being on the sampler – and benefiting from the marketing and promotion behind it – helps [me and my] fellow artists … cut through that marketplace noise and get exposure with audiences who might not normally hear [us].”
The artists from the 17 record labels represented on the sampler each received a page in the CD booklet. Every page is a virtual pitch sheet with a brief bio, album cover design, label logo and Web and contact info. Get Your Kicks is available for $5, allowing the record companies involved to recoup the expenses of production, advertisements and distribution.
Seven acts are slated for the next Get Your Kicks compilation, due in late fall or early winter.
“With the development of the Gavin Americana chart and more and more success by folks like Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams, the format will continue to grow and gain popularity,” Montgomery said.
Vail stressed the importance of fostering independent labels, which are aggressive about scouting talent and have their fingers on the pulse of a genre. As former manager of the Beach Boys, who were launched by an independent label, he claimed that multiconglomerate labels lack the passion and guts to experiment with musical forms.
“Americana music brings back the excitement of having no boundaries,” Vail said. “Artists doing things on their own terms [and] … proving to the more structured industry in Nashville [that] there is a market for this sound.”