Ian is a Chartered Accountant with over 30 years experience working in music, in recent years specialising in handling foreign taxes for international touring artists. At Maverick Festival in 2013 he saw a sign on a door saying "AMA-UK conference" but had missed it by one day. He went back the next year, offered to help and 2 emails later was the Treasurer. Since then he has astutely juggled our scant financial resources and helped steer the growth of AmericanaFestUK into the glorious 3 nights & 3 days of music, networking and infotainment that takes over Hackney each January. He is a regular part of the AMA-UK delegation to AmericanaFest in Nashville, supporting our UK showcasing artists and scoping out new acts to bring back to London next January. He makes keen but misguided efforts to play a number of supposedly musical instruments to a barely listenable standard but many years of singing along to CDs in his car has led him to believe that his voice is more than adequate. You'll find him on twitter and instagram as johnnycashbook - the singing accountant.
Lynne Best (née McDowell) is currently Head of Communications for the music licensing company PPL. She was previously Managing Director at Well Red Music and Media which provided corporate communications and policy advice to a range of global media and music companies. She has also held the role of Head of PR at BPI, the UK’s representative body for record labels and music technology companies and organiser of The BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize. Prior to working in music, Mrs Best started her career at the European Parliament in Brussels following the completion of her degree in Strasbourg, France. She is Vice Chair of the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast and a Board Member of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. She is also on the Advisory Panel of the all-Ireland mental health initiative, Minding Creative Minds.
Luke is a solicitor specialising in intellectual property law, specifically in the entertainment and music fields. Having played in numerous bands with varying degrees of failure, Luke established a music production company in Bristol before a change of direction lead to a career in law. Luke trained at a large central London media firm, before moving to his current firm Marks & Clerk Solicitors LLP. Luke represents entertainment and music clients in all areas of IP law, advising on contracts to trade marks and everything in between. Luke was struck by the closeness of the UK Americana community and the momentum they are responsible for building having first met the AMAUK team while representing 2017 Artist of the Year Yola Carter. Having got to know many of the board members during the AmericanaFest 2017 in Nashville, Luke is delighted to join the board and is looking forward to helping promote the great music and people involved with the AMAUK. Luke is an avid music fan and continues to write and record whenever work, family and life in general permit.
Baylen Leonard was born and grew up in the official Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol Tennessee. He's lived in London for almost two decades and continues to make Country and Americana music his focus. Baylen is an Executive Board member of Americana Music Association UK, lead Programmer for Nashville Meets London, and Creative Director of The Long Road festival. As a Radio and TV Presenter, Baylen has presented Country and Americana Music shows, specials, and commentary for BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 2 Country, BBC Radio 4, Chris Country, BBC Scotland, Monocle 24, Channel 5, and the UK's new all Country TV channel Total Country. Baylen has DJ'd at some of the UK's biggest venues and festivals including VFestival, Bestival, The Southbank Centre, Tate Museums, C2C, The Royal Court Theatre, Brooklyn Bowl, Nash Nights, Buck n Bull, and The Millennium Centre in Cardiff Wales.
Kim Bayley is CEO of the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), whose members include virtually every significant digital service and retailer selling music, video and games in the UK. Kim first joined ERA in 2002 as Director of Development before taking on the top job at the association in 2004. Under her stewardship the organisation has transformed itself from its former guise as the British Association of Record Dealers (BARD) into a broad-based trade body whose members include independents (such as Rough Trade), specialists (HMV and Game), supermarkets (four of the top five), home delivery (Amazon and Play) and digital and mobile providers (Netflix, 7digital, Spotify, Google). As well as being responsible for the day to day running of ERA Kim is a director of the Official Charts Company and a key participant in many entertainment industry forums. Kim started her business career as a lawyer with Lovell White Durrant Solicitors, before switching to corporate finance at Coopers & Lybrand and later spending seven years in media investment banking with West LB Panmure.
Whilst still at school in 1968 took over the running of a Friday night ‘prog rock’ club at the Railway Tavern in Stratford, East London, and with that inherited the name of Asgard. In 1969 he started running an agency in a one room office in Seven Kings, Essex – first act represented was T2. After a few years he moved to an office in London’s South Moulton Street, and was joined by Paul Charles – a partnership that has become the UK’s longest established independent contemporary music agency. In the early 70s he went through a period representing Hawkwind whilst they had their big hit with “Silver Machine” and with them visited virtually every concert hall and theatre in the UK as well as spending most evenings at the Marquee or the Speakeasy. The next decade was spent morphing into working with some of the biggest soul and r&b groups at that time such as Bobby Womack, Anita Baker & Millie Jackson, along with establishing relationships that exist until today with clients such as Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle. Along with Paul Charles the agency developed throughout the 90s to represent some of the world’s leading singer-songwriters such as Tom Waits, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, etc , and with Paul Fenn developing a roster of the cream of Americana acts from the US. Paul is also active as a council member for the Agents Association, the Concert Promoters Association (and managing to avoid any accusations of conflict of interest!) and representing both of those bodies at UK Music Live. In March 2015 he received the Award of “Industry Champion” at the UK Artist & Manager Awards ceremony in recognition of his altruistic work behind the scenes helping negotiate UK legislation affecting work permits, agency licensing and other industry issues.
Ralph McLean is an award winning broadcaster and producer who has been making radio and television shows for the BBC and beyond for more than two decades. He presents/produces his popular two hour evening radio show for BBC Radio Ulster every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night between 8 and 10pm offering live sessions, in depth interviews and passionate commentary to a loyal and ever growing international audience. His Friday show, Ralph McLean – Country, has won the prestigious Irish Radio Awards on numerous occasions in the last 10 years and he is well respected within the musical community as a champion of young, emerging talent. Ralph has weekly music and culture columns for several of Ireland’s best selling newspapers and his company McLean Media continues to make a wide range of programmes for broadcast across many BBC and independent broadcasting platforms. In recent times Ralph has produced documentaries for 6 Music and BBC Radio 2 on subjects ranging from the life stories of Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn to Classic Irish Albums. For the past two years he has recorded specials from the AMAUK Awards for broadcast on the BBC.
If you’re a UK artist heading to Nashville it’s common to be told “make sure you meet up with Siobhan Kennedy.” Formerly of late 80’s/early 90’s, Liverpool band, River City People, Siobhan has been a Nashville resident for 23 years.She is married to 5x Grammy winning record producer/engineer Ray Kennedy (Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams )who operates his Room and Board Studios in Music City. “I love to connect my two music cities and to promote UK Americana here in the US and the UK. Our transatlantic connection is so strong and it’s exciting to see artists arrive here in Nashville from back home. I used to give them all a lift from the airport but we have a better taxi service now.” A highlight of 2017 for Siobhan was attending the AMA-UK Awards and then singing at Cadogan Hall with the Lifetime Achievement award winner Richard Thompson. “I’m honoured to be a board member of the AMAUK and look forward to the music and friendships to come”.
Charlie Pierce is an Artist Manager from London, she is the Founder and CEO of Neverno Management Ltd, the home of Americana Award Nominees Angaleena Presley and Yola Carter. Prior to working in the music industry Charlie spent the first eleven years of her career in the City of London working in Asset Management where she specialised in distribution and project management. She is first and foremost a music fan and a champion for diversity and women’s issues. Charlie is currently writing a book centered around changing career and her experience in the music business. She is a member of the Americana Music Association in the US and UK and a member of The Recording Academy. Charlie is honored to be given the opportunity to join the board and add her experience to help further develop the Americana Music Association UK.
Lauren is Head of Brand & Digital at the Official Charts Company and has worked in the UK music and media industry for the past 13 years. Hailing from Warrington, music runs through Lauren’s blood, playing musical instruments since age 5. Her music marketing career began in 2005 at Bauer Media in an incredible era for new British guitar bands, the rise of MySpace, the “emo generation”, and peak circulation for market-leading music and film brands Q, MOJO, Kerrang! Mixmag and Empire. A broad role spanning magazines, online, radio, TV, award shows and festivals, highlights included launching Q Radio and managing festival partnerships with Glastonbury, Download Festival, SXSW, Green Man, Iceland Airwaves and Cambridge Folk Festival. Stints followed in digital agency land repositioning heritage denim brand Wrangler, and News International marketing Britain’s biggest quality Sunday newspaper The Sunday Times. In 2011 a return to the music industry beckoned with an opportunity to rebrand the UK’s Official Charts and connect them with consumers in a new digital landscape. Rolling out a new visual identity, the successful launch of consumer platform OfficialCharts.com, which now reaches up to 3 million monthly unique users, a revamped communications strategy and award scheme, consumer products, live events, CRM strategy and weekly playlist presence on the major streaming services. In January 2016 Lauren worked with AMA-UK on the launch of the Official Americana Chart for the UK (proudly beating Billboard to it! A US Americana Chart followed a few months later) and has continued to support the genre each year at the wonderful UK Americana Awards in Hackney where the Official Charts Company hand over the annual ‘Woody’ for best-selling Americana album of the year.
Hailing from Ireland with a background working live events, Brendan’s passion for country and Americana saw him move to Nashville where he worked at the distinguished Music Row PR company PLA Media, working on projects for Emmylou Harris, Lynn Anderson and The Johnny Cash Museum. During this time he became the publicist for acclaimed venue Belcourt Taps, for which he promoted nightly songwriters events. Since his move back across the pond he has worked in PR and Radio promotion and assisted the AMA-UK in booking live venues in Music City for the annual AmericanaFest. He is artist manager for rising UK singer-songwriter Reiss Davis and provides consulting for artists in the country and Americana scene. “I am honoured to join the board of the AMAUK and excited to work with a brilliant team that share my passion for the music and artists under the Americana umbrella.”
Anton is a director of the live division of DHP Family – a leading name in the live music industry with a reputation for an innovative and creative approach to music production and promotion. DHP shows across the country, and owns and operates 9 venues, including the iconic Nottingham Rock City and the London go-to venue for Americana shows The Borderline. In 2017 DHP sold over 1 million tickets, and worked with major artists including Ed Sheeran and The War on Drugs. DHP is also the leading promoter of metropolitan festivals in the UK, with multiple award winning Dot to Dot Festival now in its 13th year. Anton started promoting in 1991, becoming full time in 2002 and lead the development of DHP’s touring business, as well as being the lead programmer for the burgeoning venue portfolio which he continues to guide. Over the last few years he’s increasingly worked in the Americana world, promoting the first shows for artists such as Margo Price and The Turnpike Troubadours, as well as long relationships with artists like Frank Turner and Simone Felice. He’s looking forward to using his experience of shows, venues & artists to further the cause of Americana in the UK, and help develop the Americana festival showcase.
Named in Music Week's Women in Music Roll of Honour 2017 and SheSaidSo's Alternative Power List in 2018, Lara Baker is a music business consultant, experienced in events management, strategic marketing, brand management, comms and PR. Previously Marketing and Events Director at the Association of Independent Music (AIM), Lara was the creator of the AIM Awards and has organised hundreds of high profile music industry events and advised some of the biggest independent labels in the world on making a success of their business. Most recently Lara has worked as Head of Programming for the 2018 BBC Music Introducing Live event in London, and consulted for The Musicians Union, the Music Managers Forum, AmericanaFest UK, The Great Escape Festival, the International Live Music Conference and Liverpool Sound City. A long time advocate for improving gender balance and inclusivity in the music business, Lara organises regular women in music and diversity-focused events. Lara blogs on these matters for The Huffington Post, and has contributed to articles in Marie Claire, Forbes, Music Week and many other publications. In December 2018 Lara delivered a TEDx talk, on 'After #MeToo: Ending The Music Industry Power Imbalance'.
Andy Shearer is a freelance producer, director and programmer of live events. He has been Creative Director at Horsecross Arts in Perth since Perth Concert Hall opened in 2005 and launched Southern Fried festival there in 2008. He was previously programmer at The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen from its opening in 1992 until 1999, where he established the Rootin Aboot Festival and built a formidable reputation for the venue as one of the finest in the UK. He returned to The Lemon Tree on a freelance basis in 2002, spearheading a revival in the venue’s fortunes. In between, he worked for major commercial promoters MCD in Dublin, setting up the Acoustica and Celtic Flame festivals and running the HQ venue. In 2016 he opened Noble Savage, a live booking agency representing a small roster of acoustic and Americana artists including Amythyst Kiah, Blue Rose Code and The McCrary Sisters.
Few people in the world know music better than Bob Harris. Described as a ‘national treasure’, few are more respected. Bob’s BBC broadcasting career spans almost fifty years - from his early pioneering programmes on Radio 1, through his presentation of the definitive UK television music show the ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ in the 1970’s to his current award-winning shows on Radio 2 and his place at the forefront of the massive popularity of Country and Americana music in Britain today. Throughout his entire career, Bob has been a trusted guide and mentor to millions of people who have music at the centre of their lives. His guiding principle has always been the pursuit of excellence – reflected in the creative curation and construction of his radio programmes, his contribution to UK television culture, the understated passion of his unique broadcasting style and his tireless support for the artists he believes in. He was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his services to music in 2011, the year he also received the prestigious Americana Trailblazer Award, presented to him by Emmylou Harris, onstage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He is a three-time CMA International Broadcaster of the Year, has twice been honoured with the CMA Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award and has been inducted in the British Country Music Hall of Fame. He is credited with helping to create the huge popularity of Americana music in the UK and received the Outstanding Contribution Award from Mary Chapin Carpenter and Ethan Johns at the AMA-UK Awards in January 2020, a ceremony he has hosted since its inception in 2016. He remains a passionate advocate for the music he loves in Britain, the USA, Canada and across the world.
'Bob Harris champions the unknown, the obscure and the legendary with equal zest and detail’ Robert Plant
In 2008, Ben Lovett and three of his closest friends formed a band. It was a band that utilised the classic instruments of old, and was completely, but not deliberately, out of step with all that was popular at the time. That band played those instruments; double basses, dobros, accordions, acoustic guitars, keyboards, and one bass drum, like their lives depended on them. More and more people came to their shows, believing in what they saw and heard. It gained incredible momentum, far beyond those four musicians’ wildest dreams, and now with three albums and a collection of Grammy and BRIT Awards to their name, and two number one records on both sides of the Atlantic, Mumford & Sons are one of the most popular artists of their generation, and have reignited the notion of what a group, inspired by the music of folk and bluegrass, is capable of. Ben, however, has never been one to rest on his laurels, and has long-since juggled the day-to-day business of a life spent on the road with the forming of his own record label and live promotions company, Communion. Communion has grown out of its humble beginnings in a small corner of London, to launch Stateside, and has put out records and plotted tours and memorable events for some of Ben’s favourite artists, and offers a supportive, welcoming platform for the artists of the future.
Although Ethan Johns is primarily a record producer, mixer and engineer, the multi-instrumentalist has also toured with acts including Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne and Tom Jones. He owns the indie record label Three Crows Music, home to Julianna Raye, Sarabeth and pianist/composer Dave Palmer. Ethan Johns also runs Three Crows Records within Warner/Atlantic. Johns is the son of the notable record producer and engineer Glyn Johns (The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and The Who). In 2012, he won the 2012 Brit Award for Best British Producer. Ethan Johns has released two of his own albums in the last three years.
The Associated Press named Mary Gauthier as one of the best songwriters of her generation. Her songs have been recorded by dozens of artists, including Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, and Candi Staton, Amy Helm and Bettye Lavette and Mike Farris, and have also appeared in Film and Television, most recently on the ABC hit show Nashville, HBO’s Banshee, and Masterpiece Theater’s Case Histories. She was awarded New Artist of the year by The Americana Music Association in 2005, and has released 8 studio albums. Her current release is Trouble and Love, and she is touring the world with it. Her third album, Filth and Fire was named Best Independent CD of the year by the New York Times. Her following 3 records were listed in both the LA Times and NY Times top three releases of the year. Her record Mercy Now was named in the top 5 records of the decade by No Depression magazine. Mary tours the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and the UK, performing an average of 175 dates a year, and has appeared dozens on NPR radio (US), BBC radio (UK), CBC radio (Canada), and ABC radio (AU). She’s been interviewed on the NPR show Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
It was thirty-three years ago today when the Saturday boy from Essex who would become Britain’s foremost political singer- songwriter released his first record, the mini-album Life’s a Riot With Spy Vs Spy. In 1998, Nora Guthrie, daughter of the late folk legend Woody, invited Billy to set a treasure trove of his unsung lyrics to music, which he did in collaboration with US alt-rock stars Wilco. The resulting Mermaid Avenue albums, Grammy-nominated, repositioned Billy in the United States. What’s seen him through 12 studio albums, seven compilations, two box sets, and countless tours across countless international borders, has been a driving sense of compassion – what he himself christened ‘socialism of the heart’.Billy Bragg was the AMAUK Trailblazer award winner in 2016.
Bob grew up in rural Surrey and went to University in Norwich in 1990. He moved to London in 1993 and left in 2002 and has lived in Suffolk ever since. Bob has been a booking agent since 1999 and in 2005 formed his own agency BPA Live. BPA Live is now one of the UK’s leading Americana music agencies with over 30 top class international acts on the roster including Tom Russell, Sam Baker, Eve Selis, Sam Baker and Otis Gibbs. For twenty years he was a DJ on various radio stations most notably on Country Music Radio, SpydaRadio and the short lived Mean Country in London. He has also worked on radio shows with Johnnie Walker (Radio 1 summer 1995) and more so with Bob Harris (GLR and Radio 2) – two true Americana trailblazers. He has DJ’d at Cambridge Folk Festival for 13 years and DJ’d at Glastonbury Festival in 2011. He also promotes predominantly folk music in East Anglia and he co-founded The AMA-UK in 2012. He looks forward to forging more links with like-minded souls and having fun!www.bpa-live.com
Bob Butler was one of the founders of AMA-UK with Bob Paterson and chaired the board for 4 years and helped shape in to be what it is today. Bob Sadly passed away in 2017 - we will be forever grateful for his vision to make the AMA-UK happen and we are glad he was with us for the very first AmericanaFest in 2016.
This is our freelance working team
Brand and Event Consultant for AmericanaFest UK
Romano is a freelance consultant working in the music and media industries. His clients have included AMAUK, Department of Health & Social care, Department of Culture, Media & Sport, British Film Institute, Featured Artists Coalition, Music Managers Forum, OpenLab.fm, Croydon Borough Council, Nordoff Robbins, Tongue Tied Media, Disturbing London & My Runway Group. Previously Managing Director of NME, he led the brand transformation, which saw the iconic 65 year old music magazine move to a free distribution model in September 2015. Creating over 70 annual events, doubling the digital audience of the brand and increasing revenues to over £6m as a result of the work. Developing brand partnerships with the likes of Google, Apple, Topman, Adidas and Jack Daniels, NME was regarded as an audience and commercial heavyweight within both the music and wider media industry. Romano has 20 years’ experience in event, digital and print media, starting his career at Time Inc. UK (then IPC Media) as a sales executive in February 2001. Since then, Romano progressed to hold senior positions, including Group Commercial Director of the Specialist division, which saw him lead a team of over 100 staff working across more than 35 brands.
Live Manager for AmericanaFest UK and Nashville
James moved into the music industry in 2012 after running a travel company sales team. A regular gig goer and avid supporter of Gilded Palace Of Sin Promotions, he soon forged a friendship with the Americana Community and James now runs Brighthelmstone Promotions booking agency with strong links to Nashville. He has booked tours for Will Hoge, Turnpike Troubadours and Those Pretty Wrongs featuring Jody Stephens from Big Star among others. UK award nominee Danni Nicholls also features on the roster. James co-owns At The Helm Records, who released the UK album of the year award winner Robert Vincent’s ‘I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins’. James has promoted Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Hurray For The Riff Raff and Ian Mclagan among others in Brighton and has been hands on us Production Manager/ Stage Manager for a variety of festivals including The Great Escape, Truck Festival and more recently AMA UK showcases and after parties in Hackney and Nashville.
Social Media and graphic design Manager
A songwriter and artist with a background in literally all the arts (music, art, theatre and film) – Lucy has been our freelance graphic designer and social media specialist at the AMA-UK for over two years. She was fairly new to the Americana genre to begin with but is now a fully converted fan of the scene and spreads the word everywhere she goes.