Americana and Bluegrass music is often hastily pinned into the “pickin’ and a grinnin’” category — with images of overall-wearing hillbillies in the middle of nowhere.
However, just like any other genre, Americana and Bluegrass has evolved and been redefined as new acts emerge. As musicians of all disciplines are increasingly affected and influenced by those outside their specific genre, music evolves to span multiple categories.
Think Americana deserves a second glance? Try starting with some of the music below. From there, just see where the music takes you.
The Barr Brothers, “Half Crazy”
While this Canadian trio consider themselves in the folk category, they break out into other genres in some aspects of their sound. A much more apt term for their music would be “electric modern Americana.”
Yes, there is the basic trap set played by Andrew Barr, and country-flavored acoustic guitar played by brother Brad, but that is pretty much where the genre of Americana ceases to define this band. Final member Sarah Page brings in masterful and fresh use of the harp, and Brad’s lyrics take you to the realm of indie or even alternative rock.
“Half Crazy” sports reflective lyrics on society such as “…we are all half Rama and half Bonnie and Clyde, half believer, half buried alive.” An added bonus is the captivating videography employed in the music video.
Other songs by The Barr Brothers: “You Would Have Me Lose My Mind,” “Old Mythologies,” “Beggar in the Canyon”
Boston’s acoustic duo Ryanhood have a foot undeniably in Folk/Americana, but Cameron Hood and Ryan Green’s two-part harmonies seem closer to the love child of Simon and Garfunkel and Oasis.
Their largely ’90s early 2000s feel make them compatible with the likes of Jason Mraz, Train, Plain White T’s and Lifehouse, whom they have all opened for over the years.
“Embers” is off the duo’s most recent album, “Yearbook,” which released earlier this year. A song about coming to terms with the passage of time and loss of precious memories, this upbeat track has a infectious campfire jam feel.
Other songs by Ryanhood: “Welcome You Into My Mind,” “I Didn’t Put Anything Into Your Place”
Mary Bragg, “Wildfire”
Georgian Mary Bragg is the most Americana musician on this list, but that doesn’t mean her sound conjures up images of hillbillies strumming on the porch of a rickety shack.
Her latest album, “Lucky Strike,” was released May of this year with “Wildfire” among the tracklist. Many people can relate to her lyrics of longing for a relationship with, “There’s nothing like a wildfire, feeling you can’t put out, loving that you can’t turn down, I want a wildfire.”
Other songs by Mary Bragg: “Lucky Strike,” “Comet”