According to the Americana Music Association Americana is music that honours and is derived from the traditions of American roots music.
And we can read further that “ It is music inspired by American culture traditions which is not only represented in classic man made / roots based sounds but also through new and contemporary artists whose music is clearly inspired by these great traditions… “
“It’s music…either it’s good or it’s bad…either you like it or you don’t!”, is what Graham Parsons said about it. I couldn’t agree more I guess.
The tricky part of course is to define a music genre in any way. It seems that every kind of music always had those who subscribed to the genre and those who did not. Punk is dead, said the Crass at the time. Of course, how in the hell would you think a non conformist band would embrace a genre-tag on its work. And it seems with Americana it’s the same thing.
Some will say that Americana is country music you don’t hear on country radio. But in Europe its hard to get country music whatsoever on radio. We could say that it’s non-main-stream roots-based music. But hey, you’re only non-main-stream when the radio is not playing you, meanwhile you’re praying they’ll play your songs some day, so you’ll become less non-mainstream and more making-money-with-what-you-do- musician. Let’s be honest, those who play music just for the love of playing music, have a day-time job. And those of them who made it and by such got rid of their job, well… they’re lucky bastards aren’t they?
And there there’s the difference between the musicians and the listeners. How many Americana Artists would say they’re an Americana Artist? And would the listener agree on that? Would the audience put the same bands under the same catalogue? That would be a fun survey.
So to define Americana is (like with any genre) a difficult matter. But to give it a name, at least gives some sort of vague indication of what we’re talking about.