Sep 20, 2021 - Economy & Business

Americana Fest returns to Nashville this week

Brandi Carlisle holding a guitar and performing at the 2019 Americana Awards.
Brandi Carlisle performs at the 2019 Americana Awards. Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for the Americana Music Association.

Two years of COVID shutdowns brought Music City to its knees and pushed venues, performers, and executives to the brink.

The latest: Americana Fest, which begins Wednesday and spans 30 venues across the city, will be the largest music event in Nashville since the pandemic hit.

Why it matters: The region’s largest festivals, CMA Fest and Bonnaroo, were both canceled the last two years. Now, the Americana Fest represents a glimmer of hope for Nashville’s booking agencies, touring companies, and musicians.

What they're saying: Americana Music Association Executive Director Jed Hilly was overcome as he considered the high-stakes turning point coming this week.

  • "I need to take a moment, Nate, because I’m getting goosebumps," Hilly said in an interview with Axios. "I do think this is a moment for our community. I think it’s important, and my goal is to participate with everyone to prove that the new reality we live in doesn’t mean we can’t do what we do."

Details: Hilly said his team revived the Americana Fest under strict COVID-19 protocols.

  • Fans are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test in order to attend a concert, while masks are required for all industry panels.

Be smart: Americana Fest is a fraction of the size of CMA Fest, but it’s hardly a backbench festival, having propelled artists such as The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers, and Yola. Notable artists playing this year include The Mavericks, Brandy Clark, and Allison Russell.

  • The 2018 festival generated $14 million in direct visitor spending with a combined 29,000 fans, according to an internal analysis.

By the numbers: To make up for the likelihood of lower attendance this year, the cost of a wristband to attend all concerts rose from $90 in 2019 to the current price of $199.

Meanwhile: Pilgrimage Fest is also back and will take place in suburban Williamson County this weekend.

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