A piece of Americana

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THE Sage Gateshead and The Americana Music Association have announced they are joining forces to bring the best in alternative country music from across the Atlantic to the North East.

The news comes just before this year’s SummerTyne Americana Festival, which kicks off tomorrow for a weekend of Texan twang, vintage Nashville sounds, deep New Orleans’ soul, bluegrass, award-winning Americana, classic rock, films, food, fun and much more.

The Festival features top headline acts Raul Malo (former lead singer of The Mavericks) performing exclusively with Northern Sinfonia, Irma Thomas (the Soul Queen of New Orleans, with one of only two UK shows) supported by the second massed SummerTyne choir, (which last year saw a 90 strong choir support Solomon Burke); and one of country music’s biggest stars, Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group.

The Americana Music Association is an organisation dedicated to building and promoting the Americana genre and all those associated with the industry, such as artists, labels, radio stations and festivals.

Highlights from the annual Americana Music Association Honors & Awards show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, are broadcast each year by BBC Radio 2 on the Bob Harris show.

As part of the ongoing partnership, The Americana Music Association will work with The Sage Gateshead on shaping future SummerTyne Festivals, with a particular focus on identifying new and emerging artists.

The partnership will also extend throughout the year, helping the venue to build even stronger relationships with the Americana industry, artists and educational institutions in the U.S.

From Nashville, David Macias, board president of The Americana Music Association, said: “SummerTyne has become one of, if not the premier Americana live event in the UK.

“It gives the Americana Music Association a fantastic forum from which to educate people about the music we love.”

David will be attending this year’s festival and will give a talk on Stephen Foster and the Birth of Americana.

Stephen Foster, born in Pennsylvania in 1826 and died in poverty in New York’s Bowery in 1864, is now acknowledged as the father of American music.

Tamsin Austin, head of programme for the SummerTyne Americana Festival, said: “To be endorsed by the Americana Music Association, the leading organisation for the promotion of Americana Music in the U.S., is a huge compliment to us and our festival and the opportunities this creative partnership could hold in the future are tremendously exciting.”

Other highlights at this year’s Festival include 2010 MOJO album of the year award-winner John Grant; Justin Townes Earle, the son of Steve Earle and winner of the 2009 Americana Music Association’s New & Emerging Artist Award and from Alabama, The Secret Sisters. who are nominated in the same category this year.

Look out too for the hidden gems of new music and true sounds of Americana with Abigail Washburn, Sarah Jarosz, Chuck Prophet &The Spanish Bombs and Paul Burch & WPA Ballclub.

One of the most popular features of The SummerTyne Americana Festival is the free outdoor Jumpin’ Hot Stage, which this year boasts performances from, among many others, Justin Townes Earle & Friends on Saturday and Richmond Fontaine Acoustic Duo and The Savoy Family Cajun Band on Sunday.

Tickets are on sale now. Book online at www.thesagegateshead.org or call 443 4661.