It was a cloudy day in Nashville – a bit breezy and sometimes humid.
The search for a great coffee hit another dead-end – we followed this up with a little shopping on Broadway – Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop has some impressive items (and they have two in-stores this week for me to try to fit in) – then an amble past the Ryman Auditorium gift shop where I acquired an Americana Festival poster.
Jenny and I headed up the hill to the Sheraton Convention Centre – would you believe on the way we bumped into Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records fame with a companion. (I have written of the excellent documentary on him This Ain’t No Mouse Music previously). They asked me for directions and I mentioned that I had seen the documentary on the Qantas plane on the way over which somewhat bemused Chris – “they show the film on planes but no one here has ever heard of it” was his response.
At the Sheraton we got our official Festival Program and a goody bag, full of magazines (oh the weight in the suitcase!), CDs, badges, stickers and such. There were vendor stalls that we browsed. Dropping off our stuff, we went back to the Ryman, paid for the self-guided tour and simply found a pew and watched rehearsals for a couple of hours – Stephen Stills and Richie Furay, Lennon and Maisy Stella (from the TV series “Nashville”) and Dr John fine-tuned their material with Buddy Miller’s crack band.
Then back up the hill and a couple of quiet hours in our hotel room to freshen up for tonight’s Awards show.
We were back at The Ryman by about 6.30, caught up briefly with Baz and Sue (who had just arrived) and wandered to our seats – on the balcony front row extreme right of stage. A great spot, probably a reflection of us registering way back in November.
The details that I recall from this special and amazing evening are listed below – I think I have most things right, but I must admit to being a little overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of talent on stage – the ceremony was so steeped in musicianship and history and all of it was rolled out at a strapping pace – it was hard to keep track. The crack “house” band led by Buddy Miller included Larry Campbell and Don Was, as well as the local gospel outfit The McCrary Sisters – an evening with them alone would have been enough.
I have never seen anything like it – 150 minutes of such joy at seeing and hearing so many favourite and famous performers.
Anyway, here’s how the night rolled out
- Delbert McClinton sang “Hey Good Lookin'”
- Esteemed documentary film maker Ken Burns presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for Hank Williams which was accepted by grand-daughter and artist Holly Williams.
- Holly sang “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
- John Fullbright performed a rousing, powerful rendition version of “Walls of Jericho”
- Dobro maestro Jerry Douglas presented the Best Instrumentalist Award
- Shovels and Rope sang “Birmingham” from their nominated album O Be Joyful album
- Jim Lauderdale presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to songwriter and Grateful Dead alumni Robert Hunter who then performed one of his songs, his first live performance in over a decade
- Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis sang “Border Radio” from their nominated album Cheater’s Game
- Richard Thompson sang “Good Things Happen To Bad People”
- Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys presented Dr John with a Lifetime Achievement Award, the latter then performing a song from his recent album (with Auerbach joining in on guitar)
- JD McPherson sang a spirited “North Side Gal”
- Billy Bragg and Tift Merritt presented the Best Duo/Group Award
- Chip Esten from the TV series “Nashville” introduced Lennon and Maisy Stella who performed “Hey Ho”
- Ry Cooder presented Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz with his Lifetime Achievement Award
- Old Crow Medicine Show (the newest members of The Grand Ole Opry) sang “Wagon Wheel” and actor/comedian Ed Helms honored the band with a Trail Blazer Award
- Nicki Bluhm and Sam Bush presented the Best Artist Award
- The Milk Carton Kids sang “Hope Of A Lifetime” to a standing ovation
- Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale did a number together from their recent album Buddy and Jim
- Bob Harris from the BBC presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Duanne Eddy, who played “Rebel Rouser”
- Song of The Year was presented by The Civil Wars’ Joy Williams and Langhorne Slim
- Americana Association executive Jed Hilly introduced Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell who performed a number from their Old Yellow Moon album
- Wilco pair John Stirratt and Pat Sansone presented the Emerging Artist Award
- A special free-speech award was presented to Stephen Stills who performed “For What It’s Worth” with fellow Buffalo Springfield member Richie Furay – Kenny Wayne Shepherd also featured
- Roseanne Cash and Alejandro Escovedo presented Best Album
- The night’s encore of “Leaving Louisiana” involved just about everyone – Dr John, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Shovels and Rope, Roseanne Cash, Jim Lauderdale, Billy Bragg, Tift Merritt, Richard Thompson, Joy Williams and Ketch Secor.
Oh… and the winners of the twelfth Annual Americana Awards were:
Album of the Year – Old Yellow Moon, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
Artist of the Year – Dwight Yoakam
Emerging Artist of the Year – Shovels and Rope
Song of the Year – “Birmingham” – Shovels and Rope
Duo/Group of the Year – Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell
Instrumentalist of the Year – Larry Campbell