73 percent of Columbus bands are now self-describing their music as “€œAmericana,”€ a term meaning something which is not Death Metal and not Rap, and which probably (but not certainly) involves an amplified acoustic instrument. Itâ€'s vaguely countryish or folkish, or something. The dominant emergence of an entirely fictional genre is a threat both to the credibility of local musicians and to the already miserly interest in live music of the public. At some point, we as musicians have a duty to give our listeners a heads up as to what they are getting themselves into when they give us an evening of their life. Bar attendance based on this seemingly innocuous description could yield anything from a drunk woman playing autoharp to a full-on rock band.€“ no wonder the college kids stay away in droves. The time has come to publicly declare that there is no such thing as Americana, and plead for a moratorium on the term'€™s usage. I am sympathetic to both the annoyance and the inherent pitfalls of answering the question “what kind of music do you play?” At the end of the day, however, it'€™s a fair question if you want five bucks and two hours of someone's time, and mere difficulty should not excuse a cowardly retreat to a non-genre. Even the time honored evasions of mumbling and/or claiming you sound like some other band are in grave danger from this loathsome catch-all, this black hole of description, this perfidious non-thing. To assist my friends who have already succumbed to the Americana siren song, I am offering the following recovery chart in a “€œwhat am I?” format. I hope it will assist in our common effort to strike a blow for a degree of specificity and common sense. We are a string band, we play dobros and mandolins and stuff and don'€™t have a drummer. Do you play fast or slow? Fast. You are Bluegrass. Slow. You are Old Timey Country, or maybe Early Grand Ole Opry Revival. We play country music with a rock beat and a pedal steel. You and everybody else on CMT, you are Pop-Country. Wait a minute, aren'€™t we country-rock? No. We are a country band with lyrics indicating that at least one of us has read a book at some point in time¦ You are Alt-Country. You could try to determine what Nashville time period fits your sound, for example Late 90’s Alt-Country, if you think it'€™s important. “and we play with a rock beat.” Nice try, you are Alt-Pop Country. We are a hard rock band, but sometimes we like to cover “Wagon Wheel.”€ You are a Hard Rock Band, stop covering “€œWagon Wheel.” We play a train beat on most of our songs. You are Mid-60’s Nashville, a Johnny Cash tribute band or, if you name check Willie and Waylon sufficiently, Outlaw Country. Also, train beats can become tedious to those of us not on ecstasy, consider shaking things up a little. We are country-ish with guitar solos exceeding 30 seconds. You are a Jam Band. Most of our songs are about cowboys, gunfights and campfires. You are Western, the second part of “€œCountry and Western.” Most of our songs are about bears. Indeed. I personally went with Alan Lomax to forgotten pockets of Appalachia, studiously recorded local music in its purest form and play these songs and only these songs. You are Folk. I am a folk musician, but once when I was young I played a modern song twice in my bedroom. You are a traitor and a sellout. I don't know what you are, but you sure as hell aren'€™t Folk. Prepare to be ostracized. I play pure folk songs in a rock band. You are Folk-Rock. I play contemporary songs that are sort of folky in a rock band. See Hard Rock Band, above, and for God'€™s sake please stop covering “Wagon Wheel.” I once got drunk with Jerry Jeff Walker. Not entirely sure how that is pertinent. I play contemporary songs on an acoustic guitar, sometimes with a band. Most are probably based on old folk song chord progressions but honestly I haven’t thought about it very much. Ahh, you'€™re the one that makes this difficult. Try Acoustic Music, Alt-Pop, or Folk-Derivative. If you just can'€™t decide, consider buying a nice Stratocaster. We have more than one fiddle player, a pedal steel and a weird guy who periodically makes 'ahh haaaah' noises in the microphone. No shit? You are almost certainly Western Swing, and you should totally book a show near my house.