Now in its fourteenth year, the Americana Music Festival and Conference is the flagship event of its namesake genre — that nebulous but more and more broadly embraced genre that links together artists as sundry as Shooter Jennings, Steep Canyon Rangers and Richard Thompson (the latter, of course, being a Brit). Today, the fest launches not only with nighttime showcases at various venues, but also conference events at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown on topics including fan funding, networking and website design. Tonight’s showcase highlights will include Alabama neo-soul shakers St. Paul and the Broken Bones at The High Watt, fleet-fingered string band Della Mae at The Station Inn and old-time troubadour Pokey LaFarge at Cannery Ballroom, among others. The fest continues on into the weekend — keep your eyes open for the next issue of the Scene, wherein we’ll explore the Americana Music Festival in depth. —D. PATRICK RODGERS
Let's keep on truckin', shall we?
Cuba was born Alexis Puentes in Artemisa, Cuba, on March 29, 1974, and he draws inspiration from his guitar-playing father.
"Through my father, I was exposed to a lot of Brazilian music," Cuba says from his home in Smithers, British Columbia. "I remember jamming with him to 'The Girl From Ipanema' and 'One Note Samba.' I played guitar for a few years, and when I turned 14, a band from the city came to Artemisa, and they had an electric bass. I said to my dad, 'I want to play that instrument,' and three months later, he got me one."
Learning the bass from a local teacher, Cuba absorbed the work of such North American jazz-funk masters as Jaco Pastorius and Marcus Miller. "After he heard me play, he said, 'I think you like funk music, and I think you like jazz,' " says Cuba. "He gave me some tapes — they might have been CDs anywhere else in the world, but in Cuba it was tapes. That was my introduction to American music."
That one starts at 7 p.m. and costs $12. Now over to The End, where Seattle's Astronautalis will headline a strong hip-hop bill. New contributor Itoro Udoko wrote a pick on that one for us:
Astronautalis defies easy categorization. Charles Andrew Bothwell started releasing music under that stage name around the end of the first wave of indie hop-hop. So while his unique blend of indie rock, blues, spoken word and hip-hop has garnered him a bit of a cult fanbase, his ascent has been more the product of word-of-mouth evangelism than artificial hype. His last release, 2011’s This Is Our Science, was his breakout record. And as Astronautalis tours in anticipation of the Four Fists collaboration with Minneapolis heavyweight P.O.S., one can expect we might be amid another watershed moment for the indie rap mainstay. Astronautalis is supported by locals KidDEAD and Spoken Nerd, two like-minded acts rooted in DIY and consciousness. The trio matches up perfectly, which should make for an energetic, enthusiastic bill. —ITORO UDOKO
That one starts at 9 p.m. and costs $10. Now, finally, on to The Stone Fox, where The Autumn Defense will be joined by locals Natalie Prass and Young Hines. Take it away, Abby White:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that John Stirratt and Pat Sansone — also known as The Autumn Defense — also play in Wilco, but this band is no mere side project. For more than a decade, they’ve released several albums that blur the lines between ’70s AM radio, blue-eyed soul, folk and jazz, creating their own brand of timeless, sophisticated-yet-accessible pop music. They’re currently recording their follow-up to their 2010 release Once Around with help from Nashville’s own James “Hags” Haggerty on bass. Locals Natalie Prass and Young Hines round out the solid bill. —ABBY WHITE