Rhonda Vincent, Rodney Crowell Wow AMA Gathering

Attendance reached more than 300, exceeding expectations at the first meeting of the Americana Music Association held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10-11, at the Hilton Suites hotel in downtown Nashville. Attendees heard Rhonda Vincent, newly crowned bluegrass female vocalist of the year, and Rodney Crowell, set to release a new album, The Houston Kid, in January on roots-oriented Sugar Hill Records. Both artists earned a standing ovation for their midday performances in the hotel ballroom. "I'm tardy in taking up my place in this Americana format," Crowell told the gathering, "but I'm here now." Members of the AMA's organizing board hosted a town meeting as part of Saturday morning's slate of activities. "This format is one big artist away from success," Sony Music marketing executive Mike Kraski told the audience. Jessie Scott, former editor of Gavin's now-defunct Americana chart, urged, "This is all about grassroots. Do what you can to help it grow." Van Simmons of Bank of America stressed the importance of strategic professional alliances with mainstream entertainment media including film and publishing. "This is not a zero-sum game," said Grant Alden, co-publisher of No Depression magazine. "No one's success is going to cost someone else success. The pie will grow if we share pieces of the pie." During the afternoon, professional panels examined Americana's role in radio, retail, the touring industry and the press. Saturday evening, artists including Jim Lauderdale, Sleepy LaBeef, Trent Summar and Paul Burch performed at area clubs.

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