AmericanaFest 19 Day Two

Look what the hell we got up to this day

Compass Records – Photo: LTTL

AmericanaFest 2019

Day Two – Hillbillies and Awards

GrassRoots Music Tour

Images: Jim Jacob

Words: Rob Dickens

Hillbillies and Hot Dogs

For the 25th year, Compass Records in Music Row Nashville has been opening its doors and generously sharing its high-class roster with the public. Founded in 1995 by banjoist Alison Brown and bassist Garry West, this independent studio and label is housed at “hillbilly central” where the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kinky Friedman gave rise to the ‘Outlaw Country’ movement.

Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards – Photo: LTTL

As we waited for the doors to open, Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards treated us with a delightful four-song set. “California Calling”, plus new material including “From The Ashes”. Music to forget about the heat on the front lawn.

Inside and upstairs, the line-up started brilliantly with Old Salt Union from St Louis, Missouri. Where the Dogs Don’t Bite was released last month and it is a fine collection from this young, energetic old-time music five-piece. An all-too-short four-song set included new rapid-fire tunes – “Ebb and Flow” and “Tell Me So”. Recommended.

The Small Glories are a duo from Winnipeg, Canada. Cara Luft (ex-The Wailin’ Jennys) and JD Edwards provide rousing choruses and their new album just out – Assiniboine & The Red refers to two rivers in their native land.

The inspired pairing of this multi-award-winning bluegrass dobro player and highly-talented guitarist, singer and songwriter continues to flourish. Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley are about to issue a new collection which we got to sample today. It looks like a change in direction with a fuller sound and plenty of guests including Taj Mahal and Vince Gill. Plenty of riffs and eerie tales – “Both Ends of The Rainbow” sounds like classic Merle Haggard. Look out for World Full Of Blues, release date October 4.

I have seen Molly Tuttle perform before but nothing approaching today’s setting. Her backing band comprised A-listers Christian Sedelmyer (violin), Sam Howard (bass), Nick Falk (drums) and Anthony Da Costa (guitar). Mix these guys with award-winning guitarist Tuttle and the strong material from her 2019 release When You’re Ready and you have one of the finest live shows I am likely to see this year.

Americana Honors and Awards Show

This was the 18th annual event at the Mother Church of Country Music and my seventh, with 2014 with Ry Cooder in the All-Star Band being my number one up to now.

For the second year, the hosts were The Milk Carton Kids, Buddy Miller was again leader of the All-Star Band, with members Brady Blade, Ian Fitchuk, Jim Hoke, The McCrary Sisters, Shannon McNally, Dirk Powell and Don Was.

Proceedings ran very smoothly during this almost four-hour extravaganza apart from a hesitant kick-off and one song that had to be repeated due to technical difficulties. Once more, there was no intermission.

It was a stunning evening with so many musical highlights and a few misty-eyed moments when emotion overtook most in this iconic space.

Personal highlights were (in no order) – Rhiannon Giddens‘ perfect “Poor Wayfaring Stranger”, J.S. Ondara‘s “American Dream”, “Girl From The North Country” with Joe Henry and Rodney Crowell, Yola‘s overwhelming vocals, the teary introduction and Award acceptance for Mavis Staples, Mumford & Sons‘ harmonies, the John Prine and Bonnie Raitt duet of “Angel From Montogomery” and anything that The War and Treaty do…full stop.

I am pretty sure I have missed some things. A wonderful, unforgettable night – better than 2014? As good as. Worth the now-hefty-premium ticket price? Damn right. I left the Ryman, walked past the statue of Bill Monroe and thought how blessed I am to be here.

For the record, here are the Award winners:

Album of the Year:
“The Tree of Forgiveness,” John Prine, produced by Dave Cobb

Artist of the Year:
Brandi Carlile

Song of the Year:
“Summer’s End,” John Prine, written by Pat McLaughlin and John Prine

Duo/Group of the Year:
I’m With Her

Emerging Act of the Year:
The War and Treaty

Instrumentalist of the Year:
Chris Eldridge

President’s Award:
Felice & Boudleaux Bryant

Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting:
Elvis Costello

Legacy of Americana Award, presented in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music:
Rhiannon Giddens and Frank Johnson

Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance:
Delbert McClinton

Trailblazer Award:
Maria Muldaur

Inspiration Award, presented in partnership with the First Amendment Center:
Mavis Staples

Official Festival Website



Look what the hell we got up to this day

Look what the hell we got up to this day

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Author: Rob Dickens

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  1. Great memories of last year’s Compass gig, and the Awards at Ryman.
    Molly Tuttle plays at Wesley Anne in Northcote next month. Looking forward to it!

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    • Good stuff Keiran. I’ll be at the Wesley Anne too, but it’s the day we get in, so I might be asleep

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