Lee Ann Womack, Los Lobos, Patty Griffin to Headline AmericanaFest 2015

Initial lineup for annual Americana Music Festival also includes James McMurtry, Billy Bragg and Nikki Lane

Lee Ann Womack, Patty Griffin and Los Lobos are among the headliners at this year's Americana Music Festival. Credit: Al Pereira/WireImage

This September, just as the dust from the summertime festival season begins to settle, the Americana Music Festival will descend upon the bars, clubs, record stores and parking lots of Nashville, bringing more than 200 bands and 20,000 fans with it. Held every year, the six-day event celebrates a genre whose popularity has exploded since the inaugural AmericanaFest in 2000, back before the Grammys (who added the Best Americana Album category in 2009, handing the first award to Levon Helm's Electric Dirt) and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (whose 2011 edition was the first to define "Americana" as a style of music rooted in early folk and country) recognized the music's existence. 

The 16th annual Americana Music Festival and Conference will kick off September 15th and run until the 20th, extending its usual length by one day. Released today, the initial lineup includes A-listers like Los Lobos, Patty Griffin, Lee Ann Womack, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, along with such favorites as honeyhoney, the Bros. Landreth, John Moreland, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen. (Read the full list of performers below.)

"So much about this event is about discovery," says Americana Music Association president Jed Hilly, whose festival has tripled in size since he joined the organization in 2007. "You'll have these great moments involving the legends, like the time we saw Ry Cooder and John Hiatt reunite for the first time since Little Village broke up. That was cathartic and just beautiful. But when you have more than 175 bands in town, you can go into any club any night of the week and see something that'll knock your socks off, even if you aren't familiar with the band onstage. I'm really busy all week, and time and time again, I'll show up at a club and need to be somewhere else in 20 minutes, but I just can't be — not until that particular set is over. That's an awesome feeling."

Ben Jaffe, one half of the roots-rock duo honeyhoney, agrees.

"We played the festival when we first moved to Nashville," he says of his band, whose third album is due out several months before the 2015 AmericanaFest, "and it felt like our welcoming party to the whole Americana world. We were on right before Buddy Miller and Lee Ann Womack, and as you walked into the venue, you could put a song request into this glass jar for them. We saw them going through the requests backstage, and they knew all the songs in there. It was incredible to be around musicians of that level — people who could just do whatever they were asked. One of the requests was 'After the Fire Is Gone' by Conway and Loretta, and when they played it that night. . . it just floored me. It kind of fucked me up. It basically opened the library and gave me a new perspective into that kind of traditional American music." 

This year will also mark the AmericanaFest debut of Los Lobos, the long running "barrio band" whose music takes its cues from both sides of the American/Mexican border. Active since the Seventies, Los Lobos played Americana music long before the genre had an official name, mixing rock & roll, American country, Spanish folk and Texas blues into the same pot. 

"I guess we hung around long enough for us to get a category," jokes horn player Steve Berlin, adding, "As limiting as these categories can be, Americana is one of the good ones. We welcome the attention. We're glad to be Americana artists."

Wristbands for the festival are available today, giving attendees access to all nighttime showcases for $50.

Here's the initial lineup for September's AmericanaFest: 

Anderson East
Andrew Combs
Anthony D'Amato
Banditos
Barna Howard
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Billy Bragg & Joe Purdy
Birds of Chicago
Brian Wright
The Bros. Landreth
Caleb Caudle
Caleb Klauder Country Band
Carly Ritter
Carsie Blanton
ChessBoxer
Christopher Paul Stelling
The Contenders
Corb Lund
Crooks
Darlingside
Dead Winter Carpenters
Dom Flemons
The Dustbowl Revival
Emma Swift
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
The Freightshakers
The Grahams
Grant-Lee Phillips
Guthrie Brown & The Family Tree
Hackensaw Boys
Halfway
The Hello Strangers
Henry Wagons
honeyhoney
Horse Feathers
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Hugh Bob and the Hustle
Jackie Greene
James McMurtry
Joe Pug
John Moreland
John Paul Keith
Kingsley Flood
Kristin Diable
Kristin Andreassen
Laney Jones and the Spirits
Lee Ann Womack
Legendary Shack Shakers
Lera Lynn
Leyla McCalla
Lilly Hiatt
Liz Longley
Los Lobos
Low Cut Connie
Lucette
Lydia Loveless
Martin Harley
Mary Gauthier
Nikki Lane
Nora Jane Struthers
Nudie
Oh Pep!
Packway Handle Band
Patty Griffin
Pokey LaFarge
Porter
Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen
Ray Wylie Hubbard
River Whyless
Sarah Borges
Sean McConnell
Shemekia Copeland
The Show Ponies
Session Americana
Steelism
The Steel Wheels
Stephen Kellogg
The Stray Birds
Tall Heights
The Vespers
Water Liars
The Whistles and The Bells
Whitey Morgan and the 78s
The Wild Reeds
William Elliott Whitmore
Whitehorse