Chart Beat Podcast: Dave Cobb & Jed Hilly on the 'Melting Pot of Honesty' That Is Americana Music

Chart Beat Podcast featuring: Dave Cobb and Jed Hilly
Getty Images; Courtesy Photo

Chart Beat Podcast featuring: Dave Cobb (left) and Jed Hilly

Super-producer Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Mary Chapin Carpenter) and Americana Music Assn. exec Hilly discuss the growth of the genre with Nashville-based Billboard chart manager Jim Asker.

What is Americana music? According to Americana Music Assn. executive director Jed Hilly, it's when you can "taste the dirt through your ears."

On the latest episode of the Chart Beat Podcast, Hilly and producer to the Americana stars Dave Cobb chat with Billboard chart manager Jim Asker about the evolution and growth of the genre, which was further recognized by Billboard with the early June renaming of the Folk Albums chart to Americana/Folk Albums. The trio convened last week at Nashville club The Basement, aka a "cellarful of noise," in the city's popular Gulch neighborhood.

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Among topics covered, Cobb reminisces about co-producing Chris Stapleton's Traveller, which won multiple honors at the Country Music Assn. Awards in November (when Stapleton performed with Justin Timberlake), sparking the album's unprecedented re-entry at No. 1 on the Billboard 200; it has sold 1.4 million copies in the U.S. to date, according to Nielsen Music. "We had a blast making that album," Cobb says. "It defied everything you're supposed to do when making an album; we'd order lunch, goof off, drink a little bit, tell jokes, order dinner, go guitar shopping … and we didn't start recording 'til 8 or 9 at night. It was like [we] were 15, playing hooky."

Cobb also reveals that Stapleton is working on his next album, with Cobb again set to co-produce.

Cobb also discusses having produced numerous other albums, including Mary Chapin Carpenter's new release, The Things That We Are Made Of, while Hilly relates the many ways that the Americana Music Assn. serves as an ambassador for the genre. As Hilly sums up, Americana is music, for the most part, "from Appalachia to New Orleans, by way of Nashville." Says Cobb, "Americana represents honesty. [Artists are] pouring their heart out on record. It's a beautiful safe haven of a format."

A sampling of previous episodes:
SiriusXM's Kid Kelly / Original MTV VJ Martha Quinn / RCA's Joe Riccitelli on Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake / Mike Curb / Hit Songs Deconstructed on Drake & Selena Gomez / Fred Bronson / Chart Beat Founder Paul Grein /

Enjoy the entire latest Chart Beat Podcast and stay tuned for more upcoming episodes with label execs, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!