top of page

Americana Music Appreciation—Crossroads 

Crossroads – Americana Music Appreciation ( is a website which celebrates and explores the musical genre now known as Americana.


It was foundered by journalist Paul Cutler (See About Us – People) who has had a life-long interest in acoustic music and posted his first review back in the early 1970’s!


In its review of Americana Music, Crossroads places a particular emphasis on the lyrical composition of songs and the poetic influences within. It aims to celebrate clever story-telling and how the songwriters integrate this with their musical melodies.


Crossroads is an independent website with no formal ties with the Americana Music Association (AMA) or radio or recording industry groups. However, Paul is a member of the AMA and shares the aims and ideals of the association and, indeed, the recording industry worldwide.


Crossroads respects all creative copyright by songwriters and performers. Lyrics and recordings are used for review purposes only.


The website welcomes feedback and comment by fans and industry groups alike.

And one of them was wearing this T-shirt which said: ‘Take Me Drunk, I’m Home.’ That said it all about the music scene in Atlanta!

Paul Cutler –
A Life-long Interest In Acoustic Music

The founder and editor of Crossroards - Americana Music Appreciation is Paul Cutler, a New Zealand journalist with a life-long interest in music, dating back more than 40 years when he first began reviewing music as the Swinging Sixties was turning into the Sensational Seventies!

Paul’s career in the media spans 50 years and during that time he lived and worked in five continents and served as Managing Editor for several television networks, including CNN (Asia/Pacific), SBS (Australia) and TVNZ (New Zealand).

Paul admits that music was his first-love and thanks his parents for insisting he learn both the piano and guitar, though he sheepishly admits he plays neither these days. Acoustic music has been Paul’s passion. “I’m an old folkie, from the sixties when it was very fashionable,” he says. “I remember the first record I ever bought was Peter, Paul & Mary. But the times were indeed a changing and I soon zoomed into the folk-music man himself and became somewhat obsessed with Bob Dylan.”

Paul began his career in newspapers in the early seventies and remembers convincing an editor to allow him to edit a weekly music page, which included reviews of LP’s. “One of the first albums to cross my desk was by a guy called John Prine. I loved his debut (self-titled) album from first listen and remember writing ‘Is this the new Bob Dylan?’ only to soon discover that every other reviewer around the world was making the same comparison.”

Paul moved to London in the mid-1970’s, where the music was still vibrant and experimental. “Commercial radio was starting to spread its wings and they were playing all sorts, from Dire Straits to the Sex Pistols.”

Paul’s mindset was still very much whatever was the latest Bob Dylan release. Then came the Desire album and things changed. “I was listening to Desire and starting wondering who is this person doing these amazing backing vocals. Her name was Emmylou Harris. Everything in music suddenly changed direction for me.”

Around the same time, someone played Paul Willie Nelson’s "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain". “I quickly found out it was from Red Headed Stranger. What an extraordinary album. I knew by now, with the likes of Emmylou and Willie, I was firmly moving to the fringes of country.”

Over the years, Paul has seen Emmylou in concert at least a dozen times in all corners of the earth, the first in the Hammersmith Odeon in London in the late seventies. “A couple of years later she did a wonderful concert at a very packed Royal Albert Hall at a time when The Hot Band were at their hottest. The music was just so pure and perfect!”

Paul was to return to New Zealand in the mid-eighties and it was around this time he saw probably the best Emmylou concert he can recall. “It was at the Auckland Town Hall and when it ended the packed crowd just went crazy. Then just as Emmy and the band were about to return for an encore, a scruffy middle-aged man shuffled to the microphone from stage left and announced in a broad American accent: ‘This is the best fuckin gig I’ve ever seen them play.’ The audience again went nuts!.”

The scruffy, middle-aged man was none other than Phil Kauffman, “road manager extraordinaire.” At the time he was tour manager for Emmylou. But he had gained notoriety as the manager of Gram Parsons who was to steal Gram’s body from an L.A. undertaker and burn it in the Californian desert.

Another memorable moment occurred in the eighties and Paul recalled the event recently when Kinky Friedman released a song "Autographs in the Rain (Song to Willie)", dedicated to his old friend Willie Nelson.

 “I was in New York and suddenly discovered Willie was playing at the Radio City Music Hall. I managed to get a ticket and it was a great show - I think it was promoting the Me and Paul album. Afterwards, as I was heading back to my hotel, I suddenly found myself walking past the stage door. And there was Willie getting into a limo! I rushed over and asked for an autograph . He heard my accent and asked where I was from. I said New Zealand. And then he suddenly put his arm around me and said: ‘Thanks man for coming all this way to see me.’ I never forgot that!”

Paul didn’t think it was raining that New York night, but now he somehow wishes it was!

Paul’s only other brush with one of his heroes was when singer-songwriter Guy Clark was touring Australia and New Zealand in the 1990’s. Paul happened to be in Sydney when Guy played at a small venue in Oxford Street. Then the following Saturday Paul was back in Auckland, where Guy did a bigger concert.

“The next night I found out he was playing at what was essentially a small piano bar, so I went along. And when he was taking a brief break I rushed across and told him I had now seen him three times in the one week in two countries. He shook my hand, then half-smiled with a look that said: ‘Man that’s cool, now if you don’t mind, fuck off.’ It only further endeared Guy to me.”

Paul was always intrigued at the number of talented American troubadours who, in the eighties and nineties, ventured far across the world to perform in places like New Zealand. Besides Guy, there was the likes of John Prine, Townes van Zandt, Jimmy la Fave, Steve Young, Lucinda Williams, Russell Smith et al.

“I remember one Sunday afternoon, Steve Young played at a tiny country hall about an hour’s drive south of Auckland where a local country music club was holding a gathering. It was in bumfuck nowhere but he treated it like a it was the Ryman and gave a brilliant acoustic performance for nearly two hours. Simply amazing!”

By the turn of the century, Paul found himself living in Atlanta, Georgia. He was now just a stone’s throw from the heart of country music. His favourite music venue was an old converted movie house called Variety Playhouse in the Little Five Points area of Atlanta. Hardly a week went by without one of his favourite acts appearing.

He was privileged to see Doc Watson actually play "Columbus Stockade Blues" there and he was in the audience when Steve Earle and his band protested against the George Bush invasion of Iraq by placing a big “Stop the War” sign on the bass drum.

“But my most enjoyable show at the Variety Playhouse was a concert by Jerry Jeff Walker. The place was packed with all his hard-core southern fans. And there were these two good-ole boys in particular who kept getting up to fetch a Rolling Rock (beer). And one of them was wearing this T-shirt which said: ‘Take Me Drunk, I’m Home.’ That said it all about the music scene in Atlanta!”

Another popular venue with musicians in Atlanta is the picturesque outdoor Chastain Park Amphitheatre. Paul saw Ray Charles perform in what would have been one of his last public appearances. He also saw yet another Emmylou show there and one of the many he has seen by Lyle Lovett.

“Chastain is an outdoor venue and the night we saw Lyle it poured with rain. He and the band took cover for an hour for safety reasons and when they returned a good number of the audience had congregated at the side of the stage to avoid getting wet. Security staff were insisting they exit before Lyle and his band would return. There was a bit of a stand-off.

“Suddenly Lyle appeared at the microphone and apologised to the crowd, saying they had paid good money to attend and there was no way he or his musicians wanted people to leave the stage. Then they started playing - until well after midnight. I thought this is why I love these musicians so much!”

Another interesting night in Atlanta was a couple of weeks after the 9/11 attack when Alison Krauss and Union Station were playing to a packed-out house in downtown Atlanta. Paul says security was so intense, the concert started at least an hour late. “But once again the music triumphed over tragedy. Alison, Dan Tyminski and Jerry Douglas put on such a fabulous show everyone was able to forget the blues for a couple of hours.”

Paul believes the biggest challenge, not just for Americana music but the entire music industry, is the digital revolution and the evolution of music streaming. 

“There is no going back as we all get weaned off hard copies,” he says. “But there is still much to be resolved between the artists and recording industry on one hand and the digital distributors on the other, “ he says. “Hopefully it will end up being ‘win-win’ for all.”

bottom of page