Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Abstract

Performers in the Americana music genre in New England and beyond combine influences from a variety of American music traditions including folk, rock and roll, country, andblues. However, there is no absolute set of musical elements that qualifies a song as “Americana.” Emphasis is placed less on the specific attributes of the music, and more on thesense of authenticity and integrity fans perceive behind the music. Listeners feel a strong senseof solidarity with the performers, resulting in the camaraderie and loose boundary between musician and fan that characterizes a music scene. In New England, artists who fall within this broad label work towards the genre’s recognition and growth. These efforts represent a collaborative grassroots effort to build a prominent and thriving music scene. In the case of Americana in New England, the reach of the community is extremely broad, both as a result ofthe genre’s vague definition and the regional geographic distinction set forth by an association of artists. The scene organizers nonetheless hold the power over how this music is perceived, and in what listeners define as Americana. Ethnographic fieldwork provided case studies in how the values and methods of this artist network impact the process of music scene formation and the structure of the community itself.

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