Although his role as executive director of the Americana Music Assn. (AMA) is a year-round job, Jed Hilly is busiest in the run-up to the Americana Music Festival & Conference. During the month before this year's event -- Sept. 18-22 in Nashville -- Hilly's days are spent preparing his staff of five, more than 100 volunteers, performers and press for the annual ode to American roots music. The popularity of bands like Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers and Alabama Shakes has helped put Americana on an upward trajectory.

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