Bill DeVille's five favorite finds from Americana Fest 2017

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Bill DeVille recently attended the Americana Music Conference and Festival in Nashville, Tenn., and he's back with a few favorites from this year's fest. (Luke Taylor | MPR)

I recently got back from the 2017 Americana Music Conference and Festival in Nashville, where I saw so much great music. Looking back on the experience, I'm going to reel off my top five artists who I saw while I was in Nashville.

Charley Crockett


The first one is an artist I'd never heard of, but when I saw this guy, Charley Crockett, a guy originally from somewhere around the Texas-Louisiana border, I thought, "This guy is amazing."

Crockett has a kind of swinging gumbo of styles. He's kind of a human jukebox of sorts: he does all these covers, but he does them with his own twist. Crockett is part country, part blues; he's old-timey, he was a busker in New Orleans, and I can't wait for this guy to come north eventually. So Charley Crockett was my number-one pick.

Check him out for yourself at charleycrockett.com.

Yola Carter


Then I heard another artist who was just amazing. Her name is Yola Carter, and she hails from England — though she sounds like she's from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. She's a powerhouse of a singer: she's part Southern soul, she's part gospel and she's completely amazing. You'll want to remember her name: Yola Carter. She's posted a track on her website, yolacarter.com.

Joshua Hedley


My third pick was a guy named Joshua Hedley. This guy was amazing, too. I knew who he was going in; I've seen him lots of times over the years, but never on his own. He used to play with Justin Townes Earle, he also played with Jonny Corndawg, and now Hedley is a crooner in sort of a Ray Price mode, and this guy sounds like the golden age of country, pure 1963. And he wore a fabulous Nudie Suit, if that's not enough. Hedley has a Soundcloud site you can check out.

Steelism


At number four is Steelism, a band that I've seen lots of times, but the thing is, they're hotshot session players, so they never make it up north. It features Spencer Cullum, Jr., who's an English guy who stands about six-foot-two, and his pal Jeremy Fetzer, who's one of the great guitar players around Nashville.

They're kind of an instrumental band, and the set highlight was seeing them do "Speak Softly, Love" — the theme to The Godfather — with their own unique twist on it. There's a sampler of tunes up on their website.

Lilly Hiatt


Number five is Lilly Hiatt, and she writes some heavy-duty, personal songs. She's really more of a rocker than an Americana artist, but she was just fantastic.

Seeing her perform is kind of surreal because she is kind of chip off the old block; she is the daughter of John Hiatt, and when she's singing, she kind of contorts her face the same way as her father.

Lilly Hiatt's tune "All Kinds of People" off her album Trinity Lane can be streamed at the click of a button on her website's homepage.

Join me Sunday, Sept. 24, between 8 and 10 a.m. on United States of Americana, and we'll talk more about the Americana Fest, including some of the winners at the Americana Awards and Honors.

Resources


Americana Fest - official site

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  • John Prine, Sturgill Simpson, Amanda Shires and others honored at Americana Fest On Wednesday night in Nashville, Tenn., the Americana Music Festival hosted its 16th annual Americana Music Association Honors and Awards show, which showcases and honors the artists working in the many genres of American roots music. See the list of honorees as well as Instagram highlights from The Current's Bill DeVille, who was in attendance in Nashville.