The Americana Music Association Previews Spotlight on Arkansas at AMERICANAFEST 2022 |

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The Americana Music Association Previews Spotlight on Arkansas at AMERICANAFEST 2022

The Americana Music Association Previews Spotlight on Arkansas at AMERICANAFEST 2022

// 8.18.22

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 18, 2022)  -- This year, the Americana Music Association has selected the state of Arkansas as the regional music focus for its 22nd annual AMERICANAFEST, Sept. 13-17 in Nashville, Tenn. In partnership with Arkansas Tourism and Visit Bentonville, the destination music festival and conference event previews this special programming today that features multiple panels, special events and a music showcase over four days. Highlights include a panel focusing on the life and legacy of Johnny Cash; a special event with the brightest, upcoming Arkansan artists that are pushing the Americana genre forward; and an evening showcase of music with a star-studded tribute to Levon Helm. A full slate of programming can be found below.

“We’re beyond thrilled to spotlight the state of Arkansas at this year’s festival and celebrate its rich musical heritage,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association. “Through this programming, attendees will be able to experience the sounds of delta blues, rockabilly and Ozark folk, as we welcome our friends from the Arkansas tourism, music and creative industries who have built and are expanding the tradition of Americana.”

The Natural State has produced some of the most diverse and iconic pioneers of American music and contributors to the American songbook. From Sister Rosetta Tharpe, considered to be the birthmother of rock and roll, to Louis Jordan who ignited the move from rhythm and blues to rock and roll. Directly influenced by these local pioneers, Arkansas gave the world Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, Al Green, Levon Helm, Ronnie Hawkins, Glen Campbell, Albert King, Howlin’ Wolf and many more. Two of the most significant artists mentioned in any of the writing about the roots of Americana music are Levon Helm (and The Band) and Johnny Cash, both Arkansas natives.

The Arkansas spotlight begins at the three-day conference portion of AMERICANAFEST on Wednesday, September 14, with music executive, visionary and Arkansas native Al Bell as a featured panelist for "Wattstax Now And Then: Celebrating 50 Years of Wattstax and Americana Music by Black Artists." Bell, the former owner and CEO of the historic Stax Records, was born and raised in Brinkley, Arkansas before he became a disc jockey in Little Rock. He then propelled his Sunday morning DJ shifts into a lifelong career in the industry, working in promotions and producing records before making his way to the top of Stax Records. Hear from Bell and other contemporaries about the historic '72 Wattstax festival that restored the Watts community spirit following the neighborhood rebellions outside of Los Angeles, California.

Additionally, Wednesday will include Arkansas musician Rev. Greg Spradlin moderating “Arkansas Creatives,” a discussion on creative influences that developed the Americana sound in The Natural State, with panelists Bonnie Montgomery, Jason Weinheimer (Fellowship Hall Sound) and Arkansas music historian Stephen Koch. The session will focus on how the Arkansas culture spawned the musical creativity that led to multiple influential artists carving a distinct Americana sound.

Peering into the past, industry veteran Sharon Corbitt will lead a history lesson during "Arkansas' Delta Roots" on the innovators and originators of the southern delta sound. From gospel to country to blues, Larry McCray, Munnie Jordan (King Biscuit Blues Festival) and more panelists to be announced will discuss the artists that had a direct impact on the foundation of Americana.

Thursday is full of musical performances at 3rd and Lindsley. Sponsored by Arkansas Tourism and Visit Bentonville, the day begins with a special day party hosted by The House of Songs. The "Arkansas Extravaganza" will have appearances from Dylan Earl, David Starr, Shannon Wurst and more. 

Following a glimpse into the future of Americana, the festivities continue in the evening with Arkansas showcasing acts taking the stage, which includes Willi Carlisle, Erin Enderlin, Larry McCray, Rev. Greg Spradlin and Bonnie Montgomery. The night closes with a special tribute honoring the career of Arkansas native Levon Helm. Backed by an Arkansas All-Star house band, Mike Farris, Allison Moorer, Autumn Nicholas, Webb Wilder, Oliver Wood and more will salute the legendary artist.

Kicking off the festivities on Friday, musician, writer and performer Robert Burke Warren will lead the charge on "Johnny Cash: An Arkansan Icon Endures," with a deep dive into Cash's historic career. Nearly 20 years after his passing, the Man in Black's impact and influence still crosses genres, backgrounds and generations. His legacy as an Arkansan lives on through film, books and social media. AMERICANAFEST brings together Beverly Keel (MTSU), Adam Long (A-State Heritage Sites) and Robert K. Oermann to look at how his legacy has stood the test of time. 

Returning on Saturday, September 17, The House of Songs hosts the "Arkansas Explorer Day Party" that will wrap up the week-long celebration and highlight the very best that The Natural State has to offer. Sponsored by Arkansas Tourism and Visit Bentonville, songwriters and Arkansas natives spotlight the sights, sounds and more with performances at InDo Nashville.

Those interested in attending AMERICANAFEST panels can purchase a 2022 Conference Registration (currently priced at $499 / $399 for Americana Music Association members), giving access to over 45 industry panels, more than 175 nightly showcases and close to 65 special events across town in Nashville. Music fans who are just interested in the nightly music showcases can purchase a Festival Wristband at $175, which allows entry into official showcases and select special events.

More information on AMERICANAFEST as well as passes can be found at

To learn more about Arkansas Tourism, visit For information about Visit Bentonville, you can go to

Arkansas Programming at AMERICANAFEST 2022 - Nashville, TN

Wednesday, Sept. 14
Arkansas Creatives
10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. | Panel | Gulch III, The Westin Nashville

Explore the creative native environment with artists and creators who have first-hand experience in the Natural State and whose projects have helped drive Arkansas' fertile creative ground. Featuring Jason Weinheimer (Fellowship Hall Sound) and Stephen Koch, Arkansas music historian.

Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants.

Wednesday, Sept. 14
Arkansas' Delta Roots
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Panel | Gulch I & II, The Westin Nashville

Sonny Boy Williamson. Conway Twitty. Levon Helm. Arkansas’ southern delta is a melting pot of musical genres from gospel to country to blues. These are the sounds that made Americana music. Join this panel of artists and activators as they reflect and explore the history, the music and the events that continue to inspire today.

Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants. 

Thursday, Sept. 15
The Arkansas Extravaganza
12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. | Special Event | 3rd & Lindsley

This event will kick off a week of celebrating Arkansas’ contribution to Americana music and will showcase the best and brightest from The Natural State including Willi Carlisle, Bonnie Montgomery, Dylan Earl, Shannon Wurst, David Starr and more. The House of Songs (Northwest Arkansas & Austin, Texas) will bring to the stage some of the best Americana acts from Arkansas.  Presented in partnership with Arkansas Tourism and Visit Bentonville.

Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants and Festival Passholders.

Thursday, Sept. 15
Regional Music Spotlight: Arkansas / Tribute to Levon Helm
7:00 p.m. - 11:45 p.m. | Showcase | 3rd & Lindsley

Looking for the most exciting lineup of the week? Arkansas artists are taking over 3rd and Lindsley with showcasing artists featuring Willi Carlisle, Erin Enderlin, Larry McCray, Rev. Greg Spradlin and Bonnie Montgomery. Following sets from each, the evening concludes with a special musical tribute to Levon Helm. Backed by Rev. Greg Spradlin's stellar house band, guest vocalists will include Mike Farris, Allison Moorer, Autumn Nicholas, Webb Wilder, Oliver Wood and more. Another celebration in our salute to The Natural State - Arkansas! 

Presented in partnership with Arkansas Tourism and Visit Bentonville.

Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants and Festival Passholders.

Friday, Sept. 16
Johnny Cash: An Arkansan Icon Endures
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. | Panel | Gulch I & II, The Westin Nashville

As we approach the twenty-year anniversary of Johnny Cash's passing, the Man in Black's distinctive legacy is stronger than ever. Cash's songs rack up millions of streams on all platforms, his presence beams from popular social media accounts, innumerable Johnny Cash memes circulate and new books and films about him are regularly released. In a time of historic division, he is universally loved across an astonishingly broad spectrum – conservatives, liberals, hipsters, rednecks, virtually all ethnicities and genders love Johnny Cash. Moderator Robert Burke Warren will engage this panel to discuss the various reasons this erstwhile dirt-poor Arkansan still captivates. They will cover Cash's crucial early years on the FDR-sponsored Dyess Colony, his '60s heyday as genre-defying recording artist and TV star, his '70s-era struggles, his rejection by '80s Nashville and his remarkable surprise fourth act with Rick Rubin in the '90s.

Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants.

Saturday, Sept. 17
The House of Songs Presents: The Arkansas Explorer Day Party
12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. | Special Event | InDo Nashville

The House of Songs (Northwest Arkansas & Austin, Texas) presents some of the best Americana acts from Arkansas and beyond. This event will feature domestic and international songwriters and friends of The House of Songs. This will also serve as the culmination of a week of celebrating Arkansas Music and will highlight the best and brightest from The Natural State! Presented in partnership with Arkansas Tourism and Visit Bentonville.

Open to AMERICANAFEST Conference Registrants and Festival Passholders.


Interested in covering AMERICANAFEST 2022? Applications for press credentials are now being accepted here.


The 22nd annual AMERICANAFEST will take place September 13-17, 2022 in Nashville, Tenn., once again bringing together music industry professionals and fans alike for five days of discovery, insight and connections. AMERICANAFEST showcases hundreds of artists and bands throughout many notable venues in Nashville, TN. The destination event also features a first-rate industry conference, bringing together the top tier of the music business to discuss current industry topics and issues. Musical festivities are kicked off by the critically acclaimed Americana Honors & Awards, which celebrates luminaries and welcomes the next generation of trailblazers while offering one-of-a-kind performance pairings at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium. For more information, please visit

About the Americana Music Association:
The Americana Music Association is a professional not-for-profit trade organization whose mission is to advocate for the authentic voice of American roots music around the world. The Association produces events throughout the year; including AMERICANAFEST and the critically acclaimed Americana Honors & Awards program. The Americana Music Association receives enormous support from the Tennessee Department of Tourism, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC.

About Arkansas Tourism: Arkansas Tourism, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, strives to expand the economic impact of travel and tourism in the state and enhance the quality of life for all Arkansans. The division manages 14 Arkansas Welcome Centers and employs more than 60 staff members across The Natural State. For more information, visit


For more information, artist press photos or to request media credentials, please contact:

Jackie Marushka | Marushka Media | 615.417.6500 | 
Americana Music Association | 615.386.6936 |

For more information on Arkansas Tourism, please contact:
Leah DiPietro | Deputy Chief of Communication |

For more information on Visit Bentonville, please contact: 
Aaron Mullins | Director of Marketing and Communications |