Americana Music Awards 2012 Recap
Article by: Blake Boldt | Photo Credit: Steve Harman for The Tennessean | Posted: 09/13/2012
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Bonnie Raitt added to her impressive list of accolades last night at the Americana Music Honors & Awards.
John Hiatt, a Lifetime Achievement Award honoree in 2008 for songwriting, presented Raitt with the Lifetime Achievement Award for performance. The two later performed Hiatt's “Thing Called Love," which Raitt recorded for her breakthrough album, 1989's "Nick of Time."
"It means the world to me because I'm the daughter of a performer who played until he was 87 years old and he made every night like opening night," Raitt said.
This year's ceremony again was held at the Ryman Auditorium and broadcast live on Nashville Public Television. It serves as the festival's official introduction before a full week of daily seminars, panels and networking opportunities at venues around the city.
Two-time former Artist of the Year Buddy Miller acted as master of ceremonies and anchored the show's All-Star Band that featured Don Was, Rami Jaffee, Brady Blade and Larry Campbell. He joined host Jim Lauderdale to perform "I Lost My Job of Loving You," a track from their upcoming duets album, Buddy & Jim.
The AMA also presented lifetime achievement awards to legendary British folk artist Richard Thompson for songwriting and Booker T. Jones as instrumentalist.
The night began with a performance of the Booker T. and The M.G.’s classic instrumental “Green Onions,” led by Jones with guitarists Thompson, Buddy Miller, Larry Campbell, Darrell Scott and Kenny Vaughn.
Thompson, who's written songs recorded by Patty Loveless, Alison Krauss, and Elvis Costello, returned later to perform “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.”
The overall tone of the evening was reverential as the legendary figures were lauded for their contributions to the nascent genre. The finale offered a tribute to the late Levon Helm, who died earlier this year. Levon’s daughter Amy Helm started the song with Levon Helm Band members Campbell and Teresa Williams before being accompanied by the house band and guest vocalists Raitt, Hiatt, Thompson, Emmylou Harris and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes.
Perhaps the most emotional moment of the evening occurred when the Album of the Year award was presented toThis One’s for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, produced by Tamara Saviano and Shawn Camp. The album featured Clark songs performed by Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, and more. Merely moments before, Clark had performed “My Favorite Picture of You," a song written in honor of late wife Susanna Clark.
The other Album of the Year nominees were Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit's Here We Rest, Gillian Welch's The Harrow and the Harvest, and Steve Earle’s I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.
While this year's ceremony focused on roots music's rich ancestry, the future appears to be in good hands. Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes wowed the crowd with her forceful performance of "Be Mine." The Alabama band later accepted the award for Best New/Emerging Artist of the Year. Best Duo/Group of the Year nominee The Punch Brothers, led by the spirited Chris Thile on mandolin, gave a note-perfect rendition of "Flippen" from their new album, Who's Feeling Young Now? And 2008 Song of the Year winner Hayes Carll, in a duet with Cary Ann Hearst, offered a homespun perspective on the political divide with the wryly humorous "Another Like You."
The awards results provided ample evidence that singer-songwriters Jason Isbell and Gillian Welch, longtime favorites of the Americana audience, are considered the current standard bearers for this fluid format.
Isbell, the top nominee at last night's show with four nominations, thanked the "terrible hotels of North Florida" for inspiring his winning Song of the Year entry, "Alabama Pines."
Welch and longtime musical partner Dave Rawlings were unable to attend the ceremony, but both picked up their first awards. Welch won the coveted Artist of the Year honor, and Rawlings was named the Instrumentalist of the Year.
Other performers during the ceremony included last year's Song of the Year winner Justin Townes Earle, Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, and Tom T. Hall with Lee Ann Womack and Peter Cooper. The Mavericks, who reunited earlier this year after a nine-year hiatus, were a particular favorite with the pleading, soulful "Come Unto Me."
The presenters included Brandi Carlile, Allison Moorer, and Duo/Group of the Year winners The Civil Wars.