No Country’s Guide to AmericanaFest 2016: 8 Can’t Miss Thursday Bands

Americana Music Association

Today is arguably the biggest day of decisions at AmericanaFest with an over the top full slate of shows and showcases taking over Music City.  As we discussed with our Wednesday Artists To See guide, the sheer volume of the ever growing festival is too vast for us to cover every band performing, but we wanted to highlight a few of the artists each day that we think are worthy of your time and attention.  The focus includes some not-to-miss national acts, but also shines a light on some locals that those visiting our fair city may not know to look out for.  Head below for our top artists to catch on Thursday at AmericanaFest 2016.

MOLLY PARDEN

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City Winery | 8pm

Although you may have seen Molly Parden singing harmonies for other talented artists around town, her solo work is a true treasure. She just released a brand new EP, With Me in the Summer, that’s full of blissful vocals and sharp, honest lyrics. Many artists try for years to figure out how to silence a crowd with just a voice and a guitar, but that ability comes naturally for Parden. See for yourself during her stop at City Winery. [LL]

WATCH | “Seasons of Love”

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THE CACTUS BLOSSOMS

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Mercy Lounge | 9pm

Brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey, better known as The Cactus Blossoms, bring a sound that harkens back to the early days of the Grand Ole Opry. Their debut album, You’re Dreaming, features harmonies that sound like the reincarnation of the Everly Brothers and tunes that remind you of country music’s (arguable) glory days. If you want to hear a fresh take on old school Americana, make sure you seek them out this Thursday. [LL]

WATCH | “Stoplight Kisses” (Official Music Video)

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JOHN MORELAND

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3rd and Lindsley | 9pm

Born in Texas but based in Oklahoma, John Moreland has only recently found a national following after years of music-making. After playing in a variety of punk bands during his youth, Moreland began channeling longtime heroes Steve Earle, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt with his songwriting. He released two solo albums (2011’s Earthbound Blues and 2013’s In The Throes) before he teamed up in 2015 with Thirty Tigers for the exquisite High on Tulsa Heat.  While it was helpful that the record was released just as artists like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell were rapidly gaining popularity, the stripped-down and intimate quality of each track lets Moreland’s gritty vocals shine through. Few artists can hush an entire room with just a guitar and a song, but that’s old hat for this songwriter’s-songwriter. [MH]

WATCH | “Cherokee” (Official Music Video)

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AMANDA SHIRES

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The Station Inn | 9pm

Celebrated singer-songwriter and violinist Amanda Shires just released My Piece of Land, her sixth solo studio album. Filled with flawless vocals and on point instrumentation, it stands as one of the best Americana releases so far this year. Her voice soars to new heights on the stage, and the Station Inn seems like the perfect backdrop for her performance. And hey, you never know when her husband Jason Isbell might show up for a little collaboration. [LL]

WATCH | “Look Like a Bird” (Official Music Video)

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WANDA JACKSON

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3rd and Lindsley | 10pm

Known as the The First Lady of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson truly needs no introduction. At the age of 78, the rock and roll pioneer is still going strong. One of the best parts of Americana Fest is spotting some of the genre’s biggest names on tiny stages. If you know what’s good for you, hustle over to 3rd and Lindsley and get ready to groove the night away. [LL]

WATCH | “Thunder on the Mountain” (Official Music Video)

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JOHN PAUL WHITE

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The Basement East | 11pm

John Paul White is best known as half of the multiple Grammy award winning duo The Civil Wars, and a lot of tears were shed after their unfortunate break up in 2014.  JP persevered though, returning to his pre-Civil Wars solo form, releasing his sophomore solo LP, Beulah, earlier this year.  Beulah was recorded at the infamous Fame Studios in his defacto hometown of Muscle Shoals, AL by Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes), and really showcases a diverse array of influences, ranging from swampy southern rock to brooding acoustic pop.  This should be one of the hotter tickets on the East Side on Thursday night, so, if you plan to go, you may want to head over a little early to ensure entry. [MH]

WATCH | “What’s So” (Official Music Video)

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SARAH POTENZA

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The 5 Spot | 11pm

Career changing appearances on The Voice aside, Sarah Potenza has been working hard for years to perfect and promote her bluesy rock n’ soul sound through her dedication and chill-bump inducing voice. She’s attracted a lot of buzz since she relocated to Nashville a while back, and just released her major label debut, Monster.  If you want to see one of the acts that the locals in Music City are excited about, you should head to the East Side for Sarah’s set, because, if you haven’t seen her yet, we have a feeling this is one that you’ll be telling everyone about when AmericanaFest is over. [MH]

WATCH | “Monster”

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RUBY AMANFU

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Third Man Records | 11:59pm

Ruby Amanfu may have gotten her first break as the featured vocalist on Jack White’s mega-hit “Love Interruption,” but that just served to catapult the already established Ghanaian-born, Nashville-bred singer into the appropriate spotlight to release her debut solo LP, Standing Still, last year.  The record saw Amanfu reinterpret songs that inspired her from a variety of genres, and then she used her impressive range and smokey, bluesy delivery to reimagine each in a completely unique way.  She’ll return to Jack White’s Third Man Records to perform on Thursday night, and, if you are in town visiting, the locale alone is worth the trip for many. [MH]

WATCH | “Shadow on the Wall”

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[LL] Lorie Liebig
[MH] Matt Hall

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