Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Trends in the OSMF artist profiles

We've posted our "baseball card"-style artist profiles for Old Settler's Music Festival. A couple of interesting trends pop out of the data:

In Austin, "regional" is also "national." The local angle is important to festival promoters around the country. That's why you will see a strong Colorado lineup at Telluride or Rocky Grass, plenty of California acts at Strawberry, a Pacific Nortwest flavor at Wintergrass, and a heavy dose of Southeastern bands at MerleFest. But one thing that is special about Old Settler's is the number of national and mid-tier performers who are based in Austin or who have local connections.

At the upcoming festival, Terri Hendrix, Monte Montgomery and Susan Gibson are among the regional performers building major national reputations. Todd Snider and Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez are breakout acts with strong Austin roots. Finally, Flounders Without Eyes, Sarah Jarosz, The Grassy Knoll Boys, Green Mountain Grass, The Texas Swing Kings, Lonestar Bluegrass Band, and Slim Richey & Kat's Meow are regional performers with active local followings.

Jamband-roots crossover is good business. The category of festivals we cover tends to appeal to an older audience of roots music afficionados, and one of the challenges for promoters of these fests is to find a way to attract younger music fans without alienating their older base. That is easier these days when many of the youth-oriented jam bands are including bluegrass and other acoustic music elements in their styles.

That's why you see most of the roots festivals packing their lineups with acts such as Yonder Mountain String Band, Hot Buttered Rum, and many others. (The flip side of this coin is the appearance of hardcore bluegrass acts like the Del McCoury Band on the bill of jam band and indie rock festivals.)

Festival Preview is especially interested in tracking this phenomenon, and in analyzing whether the lineup adjustments actually succeed in attracting a different demographic. We'll have our first chance to put that to the test later this month when attending Old Settler's Music Festival, where Keller Williams is the headline act and three other jam acts--New Monsoon, Flounders Without Eyes, and Green Mountain Grass--are on the bill alongside traditional roots players like Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, and Uncle Earl.

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