AmericanaFest UK 2018 – Thank You!

It feels strange to think it was only a week ago that we had AmericanaFestUK 2018! I can only say WOW, what an incredible few days it was, from the kick-off event, the conference and showcases, right through to the glorious Awards! Hopefully you are keeping up with the rapid release of photos and videos on our social media – the celebration continues and press reviews and emails keep coming in.

As CEO it’s my honour to be here trying to work out how to thank everyone, wondering where to start and whether the list will go on for ever… because believe you me this was a huge team effort.

I’m going to start by thanking the AMA-UK Board. We meet regularly all year round to plan and plot and make this all happen. Everyone does it on a voluntary basis, so we owe a lot to the board for giving us their time.

Executive Board: Trudie Myerscough-Harris, Baylen Leonard and CFO Ian Thomas. Board Members: Howard Mills, Kim Bayley, Ralph McLean, Luke Hill, Paul Fenn and Siobhan Mayer Kennedy.

Thanks also to the wider Board for general advice and support. Artist Board members: Ethan Johns, Mary Gauthier and Billy Bragg. Associate Board members: Sarah Wainman, Tamsin Austin and Bob Patterson.

UK Americana Awards

For the third year running Trudie Myerscough-Harris produced an awards show that blew us all away! Months of work goes into a show like this, planning and talking to artists and managers, finding the right presenters and secret surprises. Once again she gathered her team of hard working crew, family and friends to run the night. This family and her personal team all work in great unison with Trudie at the helm and in this bigger, grander venue with this bigger, grander show it once again ran like clockwork. A real class act, I think you will all agree we were in safe hands once again! It really can’t be stressed just how much work goes into an event with so many moving parts. Special thanks goes to assistant producer Marc West too for being an absolute star with everything leading up to and during the event.

Bob Harris… where do we start? Bob is the kind of host everyone should have. He is also one of the kindest, most delightful people to be around. We are blessed, I can’t really find another way to say it. So many of the reviews mention Bob as the absolute perfect host for this event, his knowledge of the genre and ease in which he keeps the show running smoothly and calmly. Thank you Bob for bringing so much to our Association and for making our Awards show so very special.

Thank you to Ethan Johns and his amazing band The Black Eyed Dogs; Georgina Leach on fiddle, Jeremy Stacey on drums, Neil Cowley on keys and Jonathan Harvey on bass – the AmericanaFestUK house band of dreams! Those artists who were lucky to have this band accompany them had an amazing experience. Thank you Ethan for finding time for AMA-UK, we value your expertise more than you will ever know.

Thanks to Adrian Basketfield and his team from Night Owl Productions. Adrian worked for months on the preparations for the Awards show and it showed; right down to the precise, minute-by-minute programming. Lets not kid ourselves, this year was not easy, with a new venue, bigger bands, collaborations and complicated set ups… he took it all on and once again made us look good – what a skill! Thank you Adrian.

Thank you to Miles Myerscough-Harris for filming the event – the clips coming out are a really wonderful memory of the night.

Thank you to Catherine Snell for making sure the awards all got into the right hands at the right time during the show and safe guarding them with your life beforehand, and for ushering all those presenters and recipients on and off stage so adeptly!

Thank you to volunteers Will Page and Matt Deveson (AKA Nobel Jacks) for assisting Adrian’s team for two full days, and to all these amazing showtime volunteers: Flo Myerscough-Harris, Aggie Eynon, Katie Pidgeon, Anna Lambert, Dylan Myerscough-Harris, Ethan Barnes, Caz Staiger, Catherine Ashby, Genevieve Willis, Andy Washington and Judy Fox. We are incredibly grateful for your efforts and the time you gave us to make the awards show a success.

Sara Kelly once again kept the full crew, artists and VIP guests fed and watered, always with a smile on her face! We are so lucky that she keeps wanting to be part of this event, so a huge thank you goes to Sara.

Thank you to the award presenters for joining our community and adding a touch of glamour, surprise and excitement: Jessie Buckley, Martin Talbot, Steve Bull, Sam Baker, Mary Gauthier, Sir Patrick Stewart and Sunny Ozell, Simon Mayo, Chris Difford, Frank Turner, Jed Hilly and Billy Bragg.

Last but not least, congratulations to all the nominees and winners. Thank you to the performers Robert Vincent, Worry Dolls, Angaleena Presley, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Emily Barker, Courtney Marie Andrews, Imelda May, The Wandering Hearts, Mumford & Sons and Robert Plant and the Sensational Shapeshifters. We really must single out Robert Plant for going beyond the call of duty and really throwing himself wholeheartedly into the entire ethos of AMA-UK and the Awards show. What an incredible show you gave us, with some real once-in-a-lifetime moments – thank you!

Conference

I’m not sure where to start with thanking Rachael Muller who organised and ran the conference at Hackney House. Rachael helped me search and secure the venues back in February last year, and it was her who pushed me to aim high for Hackney Empire for the Awards show – now that was a smart move! She helped me write and plan the conference and co-ordinated with all the panellists. She planned and organised every aspect of the conference venue, the catering, the networking drinks at Oslo, working closely with Southern Comfort UK team. She also recruited and worked with all the volunteers. On top of all that this year Rachael did all the communication with delegates and panellists. All in all Rachael is an incredible asset to AMA-UK team.

Huge thanks and respect to Board member and all round Americana supporter Billy Bragg for his insightful and educating key note, which set the tone for what went on to be a thoroughly thought provoking conference.

Thank you again to Bob Harris for the ‘in Conversation’ event. Every year we end with an in-depth conversation between Bob and a member of the Americana community. This year it was renowned artist and producer, Joe Henry, and was once again it was a triumph – really special and varied conversation that had the whole room captivated on topics from US politics to secrets of the trade. It was so compelling and flew by, a really brilliant way to end the conference.

We owe enormous gratitude to all our panellists at the conference -. Thanks to: Charlie Pierce, Frank Turner, Auyon Mukharji, Amy Pinnock, Sammy Andrews, Jamie Freeman, Ken Brown, Danni Nicholls, Anna Moulson, Graham Anderson, Aides Culley, Rev. Sekou, Ruarri Joseph, Lucy Kitt, Laura Barton, Crispin Parry, Tom Bridgewater, Danny George Wilson, Joanna Serrat and Julia Grant

Thank you to the songwriting panel: Mary Gauthier, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Chris Difford and Sam Baker; You gave the writers some incredible advice that will take them further in their careers and everyone in the room too who were also benefitting from your wealth of knowledge and skill. Thanks to the writers themselves for putting their songs forward and performing them so well. Thank you also to Mary and Beth for demonstrating how incredible they are as song writers in the live co-write.

Thank you to two special volunteers Terry Muller and Warren Wentworth for going way beyond the call of duty for three solid days and nights! Thank you to Niamh Charlotte, Jaz Connell, Joelle Ritter, Eliot Martig, Julia Ksiazek, Karima Cunliffe, Yara Dos, Joe Merriweather, Will Thomas and Miro Hënlo for all your help during the conference, showcases and afterparty! You are all awesome. Thank you to Gary Horsman for doing all the sound tech at the conference venue.

I have to say special thanks to Jamie Freeman. Being married to me he has little choice but as most of you know he gladly does this with love for this community: Jamie designed the AmericanaFestUK logo, the three brochures, the posters, flyers, delegate passes, banners etc., and the slides for the awards show. He worked for months before-hand and non-stop during the event too, helping with the build-up, moderating a panel at the conference, helping at the Awards show back stage, and being the imperious voice over the PA. But mostly keeping me sane!

Showcase Festival

A really special thanks goes to James Walker from At The Helm for totally running, organising and advancing the showcases, the kick-off event and after party. Jim also co-ordinated the volunteers in the venues and ran Oslo on the night – he’s a real star. Thanks to the folks who ran all the showcase venues: Warren Wentworth and Baylen Leonard, Terry Muller, Ralph McLean, Ken Brown and Chris Smith. They made it look easier than it is!

Thank you to the 29 showcasing artists who made the festival incredible. We know from last year what can happen when you perform at these events so congratulations and good luck for 2018: Thank you to: The Orphan Brigade, Emily Barker, Danni Nicholls, Darlingside, Little Folk, James Edwyn and the Borrowed Band, Kashena Sampson, The Remedy Club, Fargo Railroad Band, Lauren Housley, Beth Bombara, Jaime Wyatt, Rev. Sekou, The Texas Gentlemen, Joana Serrat, Prinz Grizzley, Tyler Childers, The Buffalo Skinners, The Americans, Curse Of Lono, Benjamin William Pike, Steve Grozier, Lunch Special, The Often Herd, Colin McLeod, Elles Bailey, Jacob Dinesen, Robbie Cavanagh, Donald Byron Wheatley, Orphan Colours.

Thank you to our PR team; Claire Horton for all UK press, Ben Allen Media for showcase coverage and Lucy Powell who kept our social media platforms buzzing

Thank you to our sponsors

Southern Comfort – thank you Drew Young and the Southern Comfort UK team for being our annual sponsors. They really took over the venues and made everything into a party, the networking drinks was a great touch and those cocktails were as usual very good!We look forward to working together on more events and festival stages throughout the year.

TN Vacation ‘Made in Tennessee’ and AMA Executive Director Jed Hilly sponsored the now famous After Party. It was quite something, The Texas Gentlemen singing songs from The Band had everyone singing along and dancing into the night – the sign of good party is when the venue turns on the lights and tells everyone they have to go at 3am and its still heaving with people!

Huge thanks goes out to ERA and BPI and Qutee for amazing support. MGR Weston Kay – thank you for on-going support in so many ways, and especially for verifying the results of the voting. And for letting us have Ian Thomas who works so hard for AMA-UK.

Thank you Proper Music, Yep Roc, Thirty Tigers, Chris Difford Songwriting Retreat, Atkin Guitars, PPL, PRS and MU for supporting us so generously.

Thank you to our ‘Sponsors in Kind’ WBC Bags for Life, ReverbNation, Axe Nicely Design, GigSwig, At The Helm, SSE Audio Group and John Henry for backline.

Thank you to our Hackney venues – third year in and we feel very at home in Hackney! Moth Club, Paper Dress Vintage, Oslo and our new venues Hackney Empire and Empire Bar.

We are immensely proud of our beautiful awards – the wonderful ‘Woodys’. The original concept by Russell Beck of a 7” single was then designed by Jaz Auden of 29 Woodwork, with centre labels designed by Jamie Freeman. Each one is unique and turned from different woods. This year saw the new concept of a 12” Woody for the Lifetime Achievement Award. They really are pretty special and the recipients love their unique, tactile quality.

Thanks to our photographers who were there to capture all that excitement! Georgie d’Albiac Brewin and Jools Owen, Chris Harvey, Redrospective (she beat last year’s record of capturing every single band as we now had 26 on one night), Richard Young, Jude Palmer and Joanna Dudderidge courtesy of Musicians Union.

Thank you to our charity partner Help Musicians UK. We were proud to show your video at the Conference and Awards. Thank you for running the panel on Well Being, we are proud to be associated with you.

Thank you to our members for making this community and being part of the family. So many of you nominated and voted in the Awards; the results are down to your choices and we value this so much. Thank you for attending and taking part in the conference, which sold out again this year. Thank you to everyone who bought tickets to any part or all of the event, for celebrating at the Awards with us, which also sold out again even though we tripled the venue size (thank you Robert Plant and Mumford & Sons). We have already started with our plans for 2018 aimed at helping you develop your careers and the Americana genre – it’s going to be another great one I’m sure!

I really hope I haven’t forgotten anyone! We’ll See you on a stage, a festival field or a music venue soon.

Stevie Freeman
CEO Americana Music Association UK