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Americana Music Fest 2015: 27 Must-See Acts

From big names like Jewel and Lee Ann Womack to buzz acts JD McPherson and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, the can’t-miss artists at this year’s gathering

JD McPherson and Lee Ann Womack

JD McPherson and Lee Ann Womack are a couple of the 27 must-see acts at the 2015 Americana Music Fest in Nashville.

Jo Hale/Getty; Al Pereira/Getty

The lineup at this year's Americana Music Festival and Conference, kicking off tonight at venues throughout Nashville and running through the weekend, is especially eclectic, as country queens like Lee Ann Womack and Americana kingpins like Buddy Miller share space with Texas troubadours Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen, and scruffy garage yelpers Banditos. The diversity is what elevates the genre, a refuge for American music of all stripes. Anchored by the Americana Honors & Awards on Wednesday night, the festival features more than 200 artists. Here are 27 you just can't miss.

Whitney Rose

Jen Squires

Whitney Rose

It's a pretty strong seal of approval to get a nod from the Mavericks' Raul Malo — and it's another thing entirely to impress him so much that he offers to produce your album (and bring along a few bandmates for the ride). Such is the case with Whitney Rose, who hails from the remote Canadian outpost of Prince Edward Island but sounds like someone who discovered classic country crooners like Patsy Cline and George Jones with enough years and miles in between to mold an original yet suitably vintage spin. Malo brought glints of his Tejano touch to her newest release, Heartbreaker of the Year, which playfully croons through tales of love and mischief with girlish breath and devilish twang. (Saturday, September 19th, the High Watt, 8:00 p.m.) M.M.

Pony Boy

Elaine Reid

Pony Boy

AmericanaFest doesn't always have to mean only mandolins and steel guitar, and Pony Boy's interpretation of the genre is subtle on the debut LP Blue Gold. As the moniker of Nashville's Marchelle Bradanini, Pony Boy has an edgy swing on tracks like "Nothin's Gonna Save You Now" that could have been a Lou Reed-Nico collaboration if they went through a Nashville phase, pumped up on Hank Williams heartbreak instead of heroin. Melding the dreamy world of Beach House or Mazzy Star with Nikki Lane's quirky cowgirl, Blue Gold is a tale of California in the rear view, exposing the fading artifice and shallow promises held deeply in the City of Angels. And Pony Boy flees that L.A. freeway without getting killed or caught. (Wednesday, September 16th, the Basement, midnight) M.M.