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5 rising stars not to miss at the 2014 Americana Music Festival

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The Americana Music Festival and Conference, being held Sept. 17-21 in venues throughout Nashville, is just a couple of weeks away. But with over 160 acts performing throughout the weekend, it's impossible to see everyone. If your Americana tastes run toward the genre's youth movement, here are 5 fast rising stars to consider:

Parker Millsap
Parker Millsap Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Parker Millsap

At 21, Oklahoma's Parker Millsap may be one of the youngest artists performing at Americanafest 2014, but he's definitely one of the hottest.  Millsap's self-titled debut album has rocketed up the Americana charts on the lyrical strength of songs like "Truck Stop Gospel" and on a road worn vocal style that belies his years.  Parker Millsap will perform Thursday, Sept. 18 at Mercy Lounge.

Willie Watson
Willie Watson Rich Polk

Willie Watson

Willie Watson is certainly no newcomer to the Americana scene, being a founding member of genre heavyweights Old Crow Medicine Show, but since going solo in 2011, Watson has impressed in opening slots for the likes of Sara Watkins, John Prine, and The Punch Brothers.  Watson released his solo debut "Folk Singer, Vol. 1" in May.  Willie Watson will perform Thursday, Sept. 18 at The Station Inn.

Robert Ellis
Robert Ellis Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Robert Ellis

It hardly seems fair to call someone a "rising star" of Americana when he is doing battle with Jason Isbell and Rosanne Cash for a trio of Americana Music Awards, but Robert Ellis has only been performing professionally for less than 5 years.  This year's "Light From the Chemical Plant" is already riding high on many critics "Best Americana of 2014" lists.  Robert Ellis will perform Thursday, Sept. 18 at The Mercy Lounge

Humming People
Humming People Henrik Beck/Press

Humming People

Hailing from Oslo, Norway, Humming People is definitely competing for the award for most miles traveled to perform at Americanafest.  This melodic quartet's third album, "City of Lost Men", was produced by Americanafest favorite Phil Madeira and released in April.  Humming People will perform Saturday, Sept. 20 at Listening Room Cafe.

Sturgill Simpson
Sturgill Simpson Sturgill Simpson/Press

Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson has made the biggest splash in Americana during 2014 so far with his release "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music", which contrasts his traditionalist vocal style with some pretty metaphysical lyrics that turn Americana tradition on its ear.  He's caught the attention of NPR and of numerous late night chat show hosts, and will cap off his Summer with a sold-out show supporting Jason Isbell at The Ryman Auditorium in October.  Sturgill Simpson will perform on Wednesday, Sept. 17 at City Winery.

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