AmericanaFest UK 2018 preview

On the 31st of January and 1st of February Hackney is not merely going to be a part of London. It's going to be the hub of the UK's Americana scene. A two-day conference includes talks by stalwart Americana label Loose Records, Billy Bragg, promoters Square Roots Promotions, Frank Turner, and broadcaster Bob Harris OBE.

It's all topped off by the UK Americana Awards 2018 at the Hackney Empire, with acts like Robert Plant, Marcus Mumford, Angaleena Presley, Imelda May and the Wandering Hearts all paying and being nominated for awards. It's an impressive growth for a ceremony in its early years.

But before all this the Americana Music Association UK (AMA-UK) hosts an evening of showcase performances from up and coming acts, some better known than others. Hosted across four venues in Hackney (Oslo, Moth Club, Paper Dress Vintage, and the Empire Bar), all within a three-minute walk it's the most compact set of shows you can imagine. With 25 artists playing we pick the five you really can't miss.

Kashena Sampson

From Las Vegas to Nashville Kashena Sampson made her own path to releasing her debut album in August 2017. The self-funded Wild Heart has great tunes, and some lovely melodies, but one killer selling point. That voice. One of 2017's outstanding vocal performances puts the record on a higher plain and is the reason she's a must see at Paper Dress Vintage (9pm). Listen out for the rollicking 'Greasy Spoon' and the beautiful 'She Shines' Wild Heart is getting a UK release soon, find out more about Kashena at her website.

Jaime Wyatt

When your debut release is called Felony Blues you can be expected to have a bit of backstory. And Jaime Wyatt has a backstory alright. Involving drugs and stay in country jail it's all part of her story. The LA-born singer delves into the more gritty side of country to produce melodic music that fits squarely into Americana. Playing the Oslo (8:30pm) gives her the space that her music needs, and keep an ear out for the brilliant 'Wasco'. Felony Blues is out now, available to buy and stream, and you can find out more about Jaime on her website.

Tyler Childers

Somewhat of a coup for the fest, Tyler Childers is about as hot as he can get right now. It started off with the news that none other than Sturgill Simpson had produced his breakthrough record, Purgatory. But really that matters not a jot, the East Kentucky-an lets his music do the talking, the walking, and just about everything else. After showing his live sound off at The Slaughtered Lamb in 2017 he's back to give the UK some more at the Moth Club (8pm). Key tracks to catch live are the shimmering 'Universal Sound' and tender 'Feathered Indians'. Purgatory is out now on all streaming services, and to buy. You can read more about Tyler on his website.

Elles Bailey

Bristol-based Elles Bailey has been touring hard over the last year, and with a debut long player to support she's bringing her blues-rock to the Empire Bar (6:30pm). With a voice that'd shake the main Hackney Empire it'll be great to see how she stacks up against her American cousins. If success comes equal to the amount of effort put in then the 'Wildfire' singer is due some major props. If you're hungry then get some decent grub while you're listening to the smokey 'Barrel Of A Gun' and groovy-rock of 'Howlin' Wolf'. Wildfire is out now on streaming and in shops, you can find out more about Elles on her website.

The Texas Gentlemen

Our final recommendation for you is late night at Oslo (10:30pm) and the pleasure of the company of The Texas Gentlemen. A motley band of musicians, they're best known as the band that's backed the likes of Kris Kristofferson, and played on records like Paul Cauthen's My Gospel. Having struck out on their own, the playful, grooving collective is going to (country) funky up a Wednesday night in Hackney. Come for a late night drink and stay for their jam, 'Habbie Doobie' and the 70s slink of 'Bondurant Women'. Their debut, TX Jelly, is out now and available on streaming and online shops. Find out more about the band by visiting their website.

Tickets are still available for the showcases, visit the AMA-UK site for all the details and to buy.

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