Best Americana Performances of 2012

It’s that time of year again when music lovers ask: What shows, performances, or albums moved you in 2012? Here’s my list. What’s yours? Comment below. 

Lord Huron – It was such a pleasure to be able to see these guys at the Doug Fir in Portland in October. A good friend of mine was cycling across the US from this autumn, and Lonesome Dreams was his go-to album every morning. He surprised me and my wife with tickets to their Portland show – so high energy, soulful, and eclectic. They’ve got silky harmonies to spare and a whole lot of pensive goodness. They’re definitely not getting the press they deserve in the major market year-end lists. 

Sara Watkins – While Sun Midnight Sun is formidable in its own right as a folk/bluegrass/pop presence, Sara is best experienced live.  She offers both intensity and finesse, able to pack a powerful punch but also able to sing you to sleep. I will go see her again every time she’s near.

Denison Witmer – I found Mr Witmer courtesy of Daytrotter, and he makes the list because of one song: “Hold On.” – a delicate love song with a Pacific Northwest background, a travel-weary lament undergirded with loyalty to his wife and family. A husband and dad myself, I love to see family men making it.

Band of Heathens – The Heathens released their Top Hat Crown and the Clapmaster’s Son in 2011 and in 2012 came forth with the Double Down: Live in Denver.  Along with opener Lera Lynn, they graced the intimate Mississippi Studios stage in North Portland for a long 2+ hour set that could have definitely gone all night and not lost momentum. It’s so nice to see a bluesy, country/americana group with such serious chops making a splash nationwide.

Lera Lynn -This was the “wow” artist of the year for me.  This gal’s voice made my jaw drop for the complete duration of her all-too-short opening set for the Heathens.  Her songs were spooky, her voice ethereal, her music itself lingering in the air and in our thoughts. If she can pull together her stage act a bit, she can easily be our generation’s June or Loretta.


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