The Brits Are Taking Over Nashville

Americana Music Festival & Conference kicks off Sept. 12 in Nashville, Tennessee, and Britain has fielded three of its most promising artists. Pollstar speaks to the people involved, including

Yola Carter
– Yola Carter

Besides Carter, Britain is dispatching Danni Nicholls and Wildwood Kin.

Responsible for creating the look and feel of what is dubbed the British takeover of Americana Fest are British Underground (BU), a non-profit organization primarily funded by the Arts Council England, that focuses on music outside the mainstream that can have a cultural and economic impact in new territories. It’s the organization that started putting on British concerts at SXSW some 15 years ago, and was instrumental in creating what is today known as the British Embassy at SXSW.

Its CEO, Crispin Parry, told Pollstar, “If you’re taking UK acts to America specifically, you’ve got to add something to the conversation. America’s got its own music scene, it does its own thing. It’s very difficult for example to take UK hip-hop into America, because I don’t know how much America really needs that. They’ve got such an amazing hip-hop scene that they don’t need a UK version.

“The alternative music scene has done very well, because America is very much influenced by what we do here in that scene. I think we need to be adding something that America can’t do but wants,” Parry said.

Yola Carter already impressed the Americana Fest audience last year, which is why Noble Savage agent Andy Shearer, BU and promoter DHP Family hope to establish “strong long-term business opportunities, a record deal, an agent, festival bookings, management, but also artistic and creative outcomes” this time around, according to Parry.

Shearer, who also promotes Scottish Americana festival Southern Fried, said, “We’re certainly open to American bookings for next year. She did do a big run in Canada last month that went very well. It’s just another stage in the process.”

DHP Family, which operates the  in London’s Soho district, a key venue in the Americana world, has been promoting concerts by Yola Carter for quite some time now.

DHP Family has also promoted Americana Fest U.S. artists Angaleena Presley in London and  in a few other cities.

According to DHP’s director of live, Anton Lockwood, “Some American acts can do better here, because in America you have so much stuff going on, and the country’s so big that sometimes I think the artist can almost get lost. Especially the ones that are not down-the-line country can be a bit marginalized. 

Andy Shearer
– Andy Shearer
Noble Savage

“It works the other way round as well: UK artists can do better in America than they do here. You get reactions like: ‘so the UK’s doing music like this too!’ You get a cross fertilization.”

Shearer believes Carter won’t have any problems breaking the U.S..

“It’s very easy with her in some ways, because I don’t think it matters who you are or how long you’ve been in the business: if you see her, she’s one of the top 5 singers you’re ever going to see in your life. She really is that good,” he said. “We need to get the record out, because obviously that kickstarts a huge part of the publicity machine. But I think the amount of ground work we’ll have done, especially after Nashville, will make that a much, much easier process.”

Since Carter already wowed the AMA audience in 2016, “in some ways you’re not launching a new act as you would do with most people’s debut album. There’ll be a huge awareness of her, people are actually waiting on the record coming out.”