STEVIE FREEMAN – CEO
Stevie was invited to join the AMA-UK team in 2013 and became Chair of the Board in 2014. Her initial goal was to develop the inaugural UK Americana Awards, the first event was held in January 2016. As a retailer she saw a gap in the Official Charts for the Americana genre, and worked tirelessly for two years with the Official Charts Company to make the chart a reality. The Americana Album Chart launched in January 2016, several months before the Billboard Chart launched their Americana & Folk chart in USA. The Association continues to grow in strength and numbers and Stevie and the Board work hard to keep the Americana genre vibrant in the busy UK music scene, working with festivals, artists, media and promoters across the country. As well as working for the AMA-UK Stevie is an entertainment and retail entrepreneur. She opened Union Music Store in 2010 with her musician husband Jamie Freeman. Union Music Store hosts regular gigs and in-stores, and the shop is a hub the local roots music scene. The business has since expanded to include an independent record label and recording studio. www.unionmusicstore.com
IAN THOMAS – CFO
Ian joined Martin Greene in 1986 as a freshly qualified Chartered Accountant to find out how the music business worked and to see where he fit in. It seems he fits in as an accountant as he is still there, nowadays as a partner in MGR Weston Kay. Over the past 10 years he has built a specialist team, MGR Touring, who work with overseas touring artistes of all shapes, sizes and genres to help mitigate the withholding taxes they face in UK, Europe and beyond. He attends the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London every year and recently braved a trip to ice-bound Nashville for the Pollstar Live! Conference. Ian’s varied musical tastes have gradually distilled into a love of Americana. His commute from Surrey to London is made bearable for him by a CD player full of real country and bluegrass, and unbearable for others by his loud singing. He helps to run a monthly club night at Bluegrass Staines where he is a regular in the picking session. www.mgrwk.com.
Trudie is a dynamic, passionate and trusted supporter of Americana music in Britain. Married to the respected BBC Broadcaster, Bob Harris , she runs their independent Radio and Television production company WBBC and has produced music documentaries for BBC Radio 2, Sky Arts and recently ‘Bob Harris My Nashville’ and ‘Back to Beth’s’ a Nashville House Concert for BBC Four and the BBC Red Button. WBBC produce the Under The Apple Tree sessions on WhisperingBobTV . The special and intimate live sessions recorded in their studio. Trudie is a founding board member of AMA-UK. http://wbbc.biz
Baylen was born and bred in Bristol Tennessee, the Official Birthplace of Country Music. He is a London-based Country Music DJ and Radio/TV Presenter. He currently presents The Front Porch on Amazing Radio, a weekly show focusing on new and emerging Country, Bluegrass, Americana, and Roots music. During Country 2 Country 2015, Baylen presented a range of shows and special coverage for BBC Radio 2 Country. He was co-presenter on the hugely popular Danny Baker Show on BBC London for over a decade. As a DJ and Event Curator, he has worked with some of the UK’s biggest venues and festivals including, The Southbank Centre, Bestival, V Festival, Lattitude, The Royal Court Theatre, Tate Museums, Science Museum, The Sage in Gateshead, and The Millennium Centre in Cardiff. Baylen is still perfecting his Granny’s southern biscuit recipe and drinks Ice tea with lemon.
Howard Mills is a Director of UK independent label Humble Soul, and the manager of UK artists Emily Barker, Liz Green and The Miserable Rich and a founder of the global DIY movement UnConvention.
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.
SIOBHAN MAHER KENNEDY
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”.
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.
Although 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
Tamsin is Head of Popular and Contemporary Music at The Sage Gateshead. During her career she has worked as an artist’s agent and tour manager for folk agency, Adastra, representing many folk acts from the UK and North America and is also one of the founding directors of Music Beyond Mainstream a network of concert hall sized venues dedicated to promoting and producing non-mainstream music tours, including folk. She worked with Folkworks as a consultant on its initial lottery bid for The Sage Gateshead, devising sample non-classical music programmes including folk. She brings fourteen years of well rounded programming and venue management experience to the Board, including a stint in Glasgow during which time she worked with Celtic Connections to produce the Nordic Nights folk music series.She is lead programmer at the SummerTyne Americana Festival in Gateshead and is currently co-producing The Lady: A Homage to Sandy Denny for Music Beyond Mainstream as well as managing the year round programme at The Sage Gateshead.
Sarah joined the board in 2014 having met when volunteering at popular roots venue Green Note in Camden, using her background in event management to help the board deliver and development events offered to members. She ran events for music licensing company PPL before moving to the leading independent musicians charity in the UK, Help Musicians UK, building fundraising, health and PR events to suit the needs of the organisation. She is passionate about music and the welfare of musicians. Sarah has been instrumental in shaping the initial AMA UK conference.