Friday, November 02, 2007

Awards night for Americana music

By Ann Blonston

The Americana Music Association conference started Wednesday night with a tribute to the late Porter Wagoner at the Tennessee State Museum. The country star was memorialized with the AMA's first Wagonmaster Award.

The annual Americana awards show was held at the Ryman Auditorium on Thursday, Nov. 1. Because the AMA is based in Nashville, there has often been an emphasis on talent from this town. This year west Texas, notably Lubbock, was well represented by honorees and presenters.

Hosted by Jim Lauderdale, always resplendent, the show moved quickly, and included performances by Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs, Uncle Earl, Old Crow Medicine Show, Joe Ely, Patty Griffin, and the Hacienda Brothers.

The Avett Brothers took home honors as New and Emerging Artist of the Year, a category won last year by The Greencards, and in the category of Duo/Group of the Year.

Album of the Year honors went to Patty Griffin for Children Running Through, who performed "Heavenly Day." She also took home the Artist of the Year award.

Instrumentalist of the Year is Nashville mainstay Buddy Miller, who was part of the all-star house band.

The Song of the Year award was presented by JD Souther, whose (naturally) well-crafted remarks included a look back at the influences of his own career, and a reminder that the award is about doing good work. Darrell Scott earned the award for "Hank Williams' Ghost," which he performed with the help of Suzi Ragsdale and John Cowan.

The Americana Awards are unique in their emphasis on career achievement, with a handful of special awards. The President's Award, selected by Association President Tamara Saviano, went to Townes Van Zandt. Fellow Texans Joe Ely, Guy Clark and Rodney Crowell offered up stories of the artist, whose award was picked up by his son and daughter.

The "Spirit of Americana" Free Speech Award went to Mavis Staples, for her long career promoting social change.

Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Joe Ely for Performing, Willie Nelson for Songwriting, and Ry Cooder for Instrumentalist.

The Americana Trailblazer Award, the evening's crowning award, was earned by Lyle Lovett, who favored us with a performance of "If I Had A Boat."

The concluding song, gamely sung by a stageful of artists, was Porter Wagoner's "A Satisfied Mind."

After the awards show, we went to 3rd and Lindsley, where we took in a set by The Hacienda Brothers with Proper Records' guitarist Bill Kirchen sat in. This band of vets has a new higher profile, and was my personal favorite discovery so far.

No comments: