20 Best Things We Saw at Americana Music Fest 2014

Rolling Stone Country singles out the best moments from music's most authentic — and seemingly fastest growing — festival

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Best Family Affair: Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear
Madisen Ward & Mama Bear Chad Davis/Billy Reid Shindig11/20

Best Family Affair: Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear

Watching mother-and-son duo Ruth and Madisen Ward bring a-hundred-or-so tastemakers and industry insiders to collective awe-struck silence with a stunning set of soulful coffeehouse folk at an invite-only showcase in the Blue Room at Third Man Records, it was hard to believe this was one of the virtually unknown group's first gigs outside its native Kansas City. Drawing on influences ranging from Tom Waits to Tracy Chapman for fully realized, stellar songs marked by tranquil acoustic guitar interplay and singer Madisen Ward's otherworldly tenor — a sundry palette of colors with which the 26-year-old painted character-driven scenes of small-town Midwestern life, emoting like a young, falsetto-capable Paul Robeson — the duo's raw, inscrutable chemistry was in full effect as they handily made a case as an inevitable force to be reckoned with in the days to come. —Adam Gold

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