Shortly before the world changed three years ago, we headed to Hackney in east London for what turned out to be one of the last big events that took place prior to the pandemic. Last month, the in-person experience of UK Americana Music Week and the UK Americana Awards returned for it’s tenth anniversary.
The event which ran from Monday 23rd to Thursday 26th January was centred around the 3-day UK Americana Music Week conference which was powered by Sweet Home Alabama, that included this year’s Keynote Speech from Allison Russell who would go on to win International Artist of the Year and International Song of the Year at the event’s showpiece, UK Americana Awards which concluded the event at the Hackney Empire on the Thursday night.
However, for many people, the highlight of UK Americana Music Week are Tuesday and Wednesday night’s showcases that take place across six venues: Oslo, Moth Club, Paper Dress Vintage, Night Tales, Hackney Social & Hackney Church Brew Co that are all within extremely close proximity to each other meaning that everywhere was within walking distance and easy access to Hackney’s stations.
A large amount of our time across the two nights of showcases was spent within the gold tinted, sparkly settings of our old friend the MOTH Club (which was the former home of one of our favourite regular nights paying homage to one of the biggest stars in pop-country) that had been taken over as Canada House.
There was a stellar line-up that had been put together by the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) and Prince Edward Island (PEI) which is the smallest of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories featured a number of artists that we were familiar with like the pure honest storytelling of William Prince, the lively fun filled energy of Hello Darlins and an opportunity to hear tracks live from one of our early contender’s for Album of the Year “I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying” as Whitehorse delivered one of the slickest sets of the whole event, not too long after we had sat down and spoke with the duo (read HERE).
Our time in Canada House brought about some new musical introductions including the dreamy voice of the delightful and witty Tara Maclean, the fun bluesy rockabilly sounds of Shane Pendergast, poignant and enjoyable lyrics originally from Australia (now calling Canada his home) by the way of Mikhail Laxton and finally Julian Taylor who was our biggest discovery of the whole event as was an absolute pleasure to hear the power in his storytelling along with the depth and soul of his beautiful voice.
Across the rest of the venues, the most anticipated performer (who had such a large crowd in Hackney Social that there was a large queue that had formed outside) was Miko Marks, a member of CMT’s 2022 Next Women of Country class that wowed the crowd on her first trip to the UK during The Long Road festival last year and brought her huge sound for a truly uplifting and energetic set performing tracks from her incredible “Feel Like Going Home” record. Further highlights we were introduced to included the blissful serenading of New York based harp player Lizzie No, the mesmerising voice and classic country storytelling of Asleep at the Wheel collaborator Brennen Leigh who we instantly became such huge fans of, the raw Scandinavian outlaw feels from Mikaela Finne (who we had a super fun chat with during the week, which you can read HERE) and finally our favourite discovery from Americana Music Week in 2020 as Norway’s lively and incredibly entertaining Darling West showcased brand new music as they had Paper Dress Vintage packed out for their fantastic style of psychedelic folk.
The whole event is really one of the most fun weeks of the musical calendar that is so well put together and occurring in the perfect part of London with how close the proximity is of everything going on that we seriously cannot recommend enough for the whole chilled out and accessible vibe which rounds off with the prestigious UK Americana Awards.
UK AMERICANA AWARDS WINNERS UK Album of the Year: Superhuman by Ferris and Sylvester (Produced by Ryan Hadlock and Michael Rendall) International Album of the Year: Raise The Roof by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (produced by T Bone Burnett) UK Song of the Year: Car Crash by Hannah White (Written by Hannah White) International Song of the Year: You’re Not Alone by Allison Russell feat. Brandi Carlile (Written by Allison Russell) UK Artist of the Year: Elles Bailey International Artist of the Year: Allison Russell UK Instrumentalist of the Year: Holly Carter UK Live Act of the Year: Elles Bailey
SPECIAL AWARDS Lifetime Achievement Award: Mike Scott of The Waterboys International Lifetime Achievement Award: Judy Collins International Trailblazer Award: Nickel Creek Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award: The Hanging Stars Best Selling Americana Album: Frank Turner (FTHC) Grassroots Award: Ralph McLean (BBC Radio Ulster) Songwriter Legacy Award: Loretta Lynn You can find more information about Americana Music Association UK (AMA-UK) on their WEBSITE and across their social channels on INSTAGRAMTWITTERFACEBOOK
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks