Alternative country. Alternative rock. Alternative folk. Roots. Red Dirt. Kinda sounds like country but it still doesn’t sound like what you normally think of as country. Sometimes it sounds kinda like rock. Sometimes it sounds like folk. But it’s different. The music industry – already a label-obsessed 800-pound gorilla – has been trying to label what used to be known as “progressive country” or “independent music”, or the “the Austin sound” for decades. Roots took hold as the moniker of choice for awhile, but the industry seems to have gravitated towards a new label of Americana, and I think it’s a good choice. New songwriters are taking traditional instruments and genres and digging deep into American music history and turning it on its ear, all without destroying its foundation. What all of these variations do sound like is something uniquely American, and not music that would fit easily in other shared genres like pop, rock, blues, Tejano, or even, plain ‘ole country. One of my favorite things to do when I hear a new artist who is playing anything resembling “Americana,” is to immediately head over to iTunes and see how Apple is trying to label them. Sometimes it isn’t even the same label that the musical artist itself is using.

Anyway, welcome to the new Americana. Somewhat the same as the old Americana. But not quite. The ten artists in today’s playlist are perfect examples of the new independent music. You may not know any of them by name. You definitely will hear their music played a lot in Austin, but a whole heckuva lot of other places too, from New York to Los Angeles to Peoria to Berlin to Tokyo. Whatever you want to call this sound, it’s uniquely our own. It’s Americana. And it’s getting better and better every day. It’s a beautiful late spring Friday in Northern California, and it’s time to roll the windows down, crank up some Americana, and remember how good life is here. And in Austin. And wherever you are. Have a fabulous Friday and Memorial Day weekend everyone. It’s great to be back.