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The Americana Revolution

From Country and Blues Roots to the Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, and Beyond

Michael Scott Cain

Americana is a music that defies definition. It isn’t rock, although it does encompass rock. It isn’t folk, but folk is there. It isn’t Celtic, but it is woven with Celtic threads. It is a blend of forms, music that draws on a wide range of influences. Gathering these many genres together, Americana continually reinvents itself and actively tells the story of its origins and its future.

The Americana Revolution: From Country and Blues Roots to the Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, and Beyond is an informal social history that describes Americana as both a musical genre and a movement, showing what it is, where it came from, and where it is going. Musician and historian Michael Scott Cain examines how the idea of genre, especially Americana, affects the creation and consumption of music. He tries to discern the formulas of this slippery genre and seeks out the places where artists have broken or bent those formulas in the name of creativity. Through anecdotes and interviews, Cain provides a firsthand view into the creation of Americana to clarify how the genre can be categorized and defined.

Through the stories of its creators both long gone and new to the scene, Americana music comes alive as a diverse melting pot of creative genius. With this book, Cain grants music lovers from all backgrounds an unparalleled view into the future of a music that embraces new influences but never forgets its roots.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 264Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-6940-8 • Hardback • April 2017 • $40.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-6941-5 • eBook • April 2017 • $38.00 • (£24.95)
Michael Scott Cain is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently East Point Poems, and three novels, including Midnight Train, a country music novel. After teaching popular culture and literature at the collegiate level for forty years, he now covers the topic in the Frederick News-Post while also serving as jazz, blues, poetry, and folklore editor for Rambles.
1. Origins of the Americana Movement
2. Will the Circle Be Unbroken?
3. When Things Go Wrong, Blame the Radio
4. Don’t Drink from a Bottle If You Didn’t See It Opened
Interlude: Roger McGuinn: Respecting Tradition While Transforming It
5. “If I could find a white boy who sang black”
6. Appropriating Black Culture
Interlude: Rosanne Cash
7. The Irish Claim the Bronx
8. Bringing the Good News
9. The Battle for the Soul
Interlude: Kris Kristofferson
10. As Duke Ellington Said, There’s Only Two Types of Music: Good and Bad
11. Speaking the Truth to Those Who Have Ears to Listen
12. Americana as a Symbol of Musical Adulthood
13. Let’s Go Backwards When Forwards Fails
14. Swallowing Other Genres
15. A Sense of Community
16. It Might Be a Great Bag to Be In, But Why Must I Be in a Bag at All?
Interlude: Jim Lauderdale
17. The Archetype of Americana
18. Back to the Question: Do We Have Any Idea What Americana Is?
Coda: An Annotated List of Recommended Recordings
Select Bibliography
Does Americana have a future? There is an Americana Music Association, together with an annual awards show and some radio/satellite/public-television programming with that format. There are a few magazines. No one who is not financially involved with the music industry would deny that independent voices are a good thing. So it's worth your while to pay attention. And while you're doing so, you really need to read The Americana Revolution, a spirited guide to both the sounds and the questions.

In a world preoccupied by style and identity, how do artists living in the margins continue to thrive? Cain explores the rise of the diverse genre of Americana in order to examine the history of music’s discomfort with boundaries. Defying labels and commodification, passionate musicians and listeners still sing
Jennifer Knapp, Grammy Award-nominated musician