Archive for the Americana Music Awards 2010 Category

2010 Americana Music Awards Winners & Audio Archive

Posted in Americana Music Awards 2010 on September 11, 2010 by AmericanaPulse
In case you missed it, the Americana Music Awards were handed out Thursday night during an all-star studded show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Since I spent the last couple of weeks handicapping and attempting to predict the winners… I thought I should share the results of the show with you as well.
The winners are:

Duo/Group of the Year: The Avett Brothers
New/Emerging Artist of the Year: Hayes Carll
Instrumentalist of the Year: Buddy Miller
Album of the Year: The List by Rosanne Cash
Song of the Year: “The Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham
Artist of the Year: Ryan Bingham

The biggest awards of the night were also the two easiest categories to predict. Ryan Bingham had an amazing year and deserves every accolade that comes his way. He was Artist of the Year, and “The Weary Kind” was Song of the Year… no doubt.

Buddy Miller was also no surprise. He’s now been named Instrumentalist of the Year three of the past four years. The year he didn’t win… he was named Artist of the Year. He’s like John Larroquette in the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy category at the Emmys in the 1980’s. Larroquette won four years in a row and then asked to no longer be considered for the award. Maybe it’s time to let someone else have a shot at this one.

There were mild upsets (in my opinion) in the Duo/Group and Album of the Year categories. I really thought the Dave Rawlings Machine would take home at least one of those awards. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised at Rosanne’s win due to her emotional connection to the music and the link back to her father. I do find, however, that I’m not as enamored with the kinder, gentler version of the Avett Brothers as everyone else seems to be.

The biggest puzzler of the night was Hayes Carll’s win for Best New/Emerging Artist. Let me say first… I love Hayes Carll. I love his music. I’ve met him twice and interviewed him once… he’s a nice guy. I’ve been a big fan for a long time. And that’s kind of the issue here isn’t it?

I first came in contact with Carll’s music in 2005 when he released Little Rock. That album went to #1 on the Americana Airplay Chart. His next album went to #1 on the chart. He won Song of the Year at last year’s AMA Awards. He’s toured with Dierks Bently and written with Ray Wylie Hubbard. He’s about as established as an artist can be. At least I thought he was. It’s just odd for me to see him win an award for a new artist. I’d love to see the nominating criteria for this award.

Anyway… By all accounts, last night was an amazing night for Americana Music, and I sorely wish I could have been there.

I remember my first AMA Awards show in 2004. It was held in a giant meeting room at the Nashville Conference Center on a makeshift stage in the corner of the room. The audience sat in folding chairs and sat in silence through numerous technical glitches and sound problems in between performances.

In 2010, the show was held at Country Music’s Mother Church, The Ryman Auditorium (as it has been since 2005). It was broadcast live on Sirius/XM Satelitte Radio and streamed live on The night’s big winner is also an Oscar winner, and the closing performance came from one of the greatest voices in Rock & Roll history, Robert Plant. Yeah. Robert Plant performed at the Americana Music Conference.

When I think of how far this genre of music has come in the last decade, it makes me proud to have been a part of it all in what ever small way I have been involved as a DJ and blogger. I can’t wait to see where it’s headed.

If you want to know where Americana Music is now and where it was last night, you can still listen to last night’s awards show over at the NPR Music website. They have the entire show archived and available for streaming.

2010 Americana Music Award Nominees: Song of the Year, and the Rest

Posted in Americana Music Awards 2010, Dave Rawlings Machine, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ryan Bingham, The Avett Brothers on September 9, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

If you’ve been reading lately, then you know that the Americana Music Honors and Awards Show is taking place tonight at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, TN. I’ve covered the nominees in a few of the major awards so far. This post is just to wrap up every other category and give you an overview of the rest of the awards.

The award show will be broadcast live on Sirius/XM Radio’s Outlaw Country Channel and webcast live by NPR Music and Folk Alley beginning at 6:30 Central Time.

We’ll start with Song of the Year.

The nominated songs are “Drunken Poet’s Dream” by Ray Wylie Hubbard, “Ruby” by The Dave Rawlings Machine, “I and Love and You” by The Avett Brothers, and “The Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham. I’m not going to go into detail about each nominee here since I’ve mentioned each artist in other posts already, but I do have a few general comments to go along with my prediction.

First of all, this is Bingham’s category to lose… just like every other award he’s nominated for. No song in recent memory has made as much noise outside of the Americana realm as “The Weary Kind.” That’s why he’ll win Artist and New/Emerging Artist as well… Golden Globes and Oscars bring a different level of recognition that this genre has been searching for some time now.

“Ruby” is a pleasant enough song, but not my favorite from that album by a far shot. “I and Love and You” does a good job of showcasing the Avett’s expanded melancholy, but I still prefer the rowdy version of that band. The song that intrigues me the most in this set is “Drunken Poet’s Dream” by Ray Wylie Hubbard.

This is the same song that appeared on Hayes Carll’s 2008 CD Trouble in Mind… except that it isn’t. Carll and Hubbard both have co-write credits for the song on each album, but Hubbard’s version is drastically different from Carll’s original. Aside from changing the song from a somewhat sunny piece into a fuzzy electric dirge, Hubbard added verses, left out others, re-arranged a few others, and omitted the bridge. He even changed the lyrics to the chorus. In the end, almost the only thing the two songs share is a title. Still, I’m not sure which one I like better… both hold up well.

Ray Wylie Hubbard: Drunken Poet’s Dream (Buy Album)
Dave Rawlings Machine: Ruby (Buy Album)
Avett Brothers: I and Love and You (Buy Album)
Ryan Bingham: Weary Kind (Buy Album)

My Prediction: Ryan Bingham
My Vote (If I had one): Ryan Bingham
The other two major categories are Artist of the Year and Instrumentalist of the Year.

Once again… we’ve already covered most of the nominees for Artist of the Year. Ryan Bingham, Patty Griffin, and Ray Wylie Hubbard are nominees in other categories. Only Steve Earle and Levon Helm are singularly nominated. For his part, Helm was the winner of the first ever Grammy for Best Americana Album. Earle, meanwhile, won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Both artists also continue to tour and serve as ambassadors for the genre. Still… they can’t trump Bingham.
My Prediction: Bingham
My Vote (If I had one): Bingham
The Instrumentalist of the Year category is loaded with perennial nominees like Buddy Miller, Will Kimbrough, and Sam Bush along with this year’s most nominated artist Dave Rawlings. It’s hard to imagine a year without Buddy Miller winning an award, but he’s done more producing than playing lately. This may be the year he’s shut out.
I don’t really have a prediction or vote here. This is the one category that stumps me every year.

2010 Americana Music Award Nominees: Album of the Year

Posted in Americana Music Awards 2010, Dave Rawlings Machine, Patty Griffin, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Rosanne Cash on September 6, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

For me, this is the biggest award of the night. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe that the album is the highest form of artistic expression for an artist. Even as it seems many artists and record labels are focusing more and more on singles these days, I’ll always take a great album over a great single. I also find it very telling about the Americana Music Association as a whole that their radio airplay charts are based on album spins rather than airplay for specific singles. How many other charts do that?

You probably know the story of Rosanne Cash’s The List by now. When Rosanne was younger, her father (Johnny Cash) gave her a list of 100 songs that he considered to be the best that country music had to offer. Rosanne studied that list for over thirty years… becoming intimately familiar with each song. This album is comprised of twelve of those songs, lovingly selected and performed by Rosanne to honor the memory of her father and an entire generation of country music legends. Friends such as Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Tweedy, Elvis Costello, and Rufus Wainright help her give The List life.

Rosanne Cash: Sea of Heartbreak (Buy Album)

This is the second of four nominations for Dave Rawlings and his Machine. He’s also tabbed in the Artist, Song, and Duo/Group categories. As I mentioned in the Duo/Group post, A Friend of a Friend showcases Dave Rawlings the songwriter, the vocalist, and the musician as he finally gets the chance to step out in front of the show instead of merely playing in the background. Rawlings wrote or co-wrote seven of the nine songs on the album and brings them to life brilliantly alongside his friends Gillian Welch, Benmont Tench, and several members of the Old Crow Medicine Show.

Dave Rawlings Machine: I Hear Them All (Buy Album)

Like Rosanne’s album, Patty Griffin’s Downtown Church plays as a bit of a concept record. Griffin and producer Buddy Miller (the most decorated artist in AMA history) recorded this gospel record entirely in Nashville’s 160-year-old Downtown Presbyterian Church in January of 2009. The mix of traditional gospel songs and hymns, contemporary numbers by the likes of Hank Williams Sr. and Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, and Griffin originals play as one long spiritual journey through song. It’s a mix that sounds just as good in the middle of the week as it does on a Sunday morning.

Patty Griffin: House of Gold (Buy Album)

The final nominee is Ray Wylie Hubbard’s A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment, (Hint: There is No C.). If the title seems confusing, the record itself is not. It is simply Ray Wylie Hubbard being Ray Wylie Hubbard with a mix of gravel smooth vocals over over gritty and dirty country/blues riffs that could only come from Texas. Hubbard has made a fine career out of this sound, and this album is simply a continuation of that. He sings wasps, women, tornados, music, and religion and tackles each with the same grit and fire. Pop in this CD and prepare to be Enlightened.

Ray Wylie Hubbard: Loose (Buy Album)
This is another tough category to pick. I have a hard time thinking of cover albums as Album of the Year material, yet that is essentially what we have with Rosanne Cash and Patty Griffin. The problem is that Griffn’s album is also my favorite of these four. I guess I just can’t shake that Southern Baptist upbringing of mine. As for who I think will win… I’m actually kind of stumped. I’ll go with Rawlings based on the strength of his four total nominations.
My prediction: Dave Rawlings Machine
My vote (If I had one): Patty Griffin

Weekend YouTube: John Mellencamp

Posted in Americana Music Awards 2010, John Mellencamp on September 4, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

The recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting is John Mellencamp.

It’s hard to believe that the Indiana farmboy who was raised in a Small Town full of Little Pink Houses has been making music for roughly 35 years now. He is one of the rare artists who has achieved mass commercial appeal and mass critical praise. His newest album No Better Than This (produced by T. Bone Burnett) is out now on Rounder Records.

Here are a few classic Mellencamp tunes…

And the title track from the new album…

2010 Americana Music Award Nominees: Best New/Emerging Artist

Posted in Americana Music Awards 2010, Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, Joe Pug, Ryan Bingham, Sarah Jarosz on September 3, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Today, we take a look the nominees for what I consider to be the most confusing category… Best New/Emerging Artist. Last year’s award was won by Justin Townes Earle in his second year of being nominated (New Artist nominee two years in a row?). One of this year’s nominees actually won Best Song last year, a year in which he was NOT nominated for New/Emerging Artist.

Even though the nominating criteria seems to be a bit nebulous, the assembled nominees are all worthy of some sort of recognition.

Sarah Jarosz burst onto the scene last year as an 18-year-old acoustic wunderkind with her debut album Song Up In Her Head. At the time of it’s release, Jarosz had just graduated from high school. Still… artists such as Chris Thile, Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott, Jerry Douglas, and others thought enough of her to appear in guest roles on the album. Most of the songs are Jarosz originals that merge traditional styles with a modern sensibility. Well chosen covers of Tom Waits (“Come On Up to the House”) and The Decemberists (“Shankhill Butchers”) show the diversity of influences that go into making a child prodigy.

Sarah Jarosz: Come On Up to the House (Buy Album)

To say Ryan Bingham emerged in the past year is a bit of an understatement. In 2009, Bingham released his second studio album Roadhouse Sun. It was another fine mix of rustic Texas roots rock from the former rodeo rider and was well received in Americana Circles. Bingham really busted out this year, however, due to his work on the soundtrack for the movie Crazy Heart. His song, “The Weary Kind,” earned him an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. He may now have the highest profile of any Americana artist in recent history. Now, in addition to this nomination, he’s nominated for Song of the Year and Artist of the Year at the AMA’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if he swept all three. This track is from Roadhouse Sun.

Ryan Bingham: Dylan’s Hard Rain (Buy Album)

This one is the real puzzler. Not because Hayes Carll isn’t a great artist. He is. It’s more because Carll is hardly what I would consider a New or Emerging artist. He released his third album in 2008, has had two albums reach #1 on the Americana Airplay Chart, and won Song of the Year at last year’s AMA’s for “She Left Me For Jesus.” Carll is another in a long line of Texas storytellers and is one of my favorite artists working today. I just don’t see how he can be a nominee in this category this year. Hayes Carll emerged a long time ago.

Hayes Carll: Girl Downtown (Buy Album)

I’m not a songwriter. I can’t attest to this myself. But I imagine Joe Pug to be the kind of songwriter that makes other songwriters (even the really good ones) jealous. Pug’s full length debut, Messenger, is one of those albums that really jumped out and grabbed me by the throat this past year. In my concert review of Pug’s performance at the Bijou Theatre in May, I compared him to an early Bob Dylan… an artist whose lyrics are so strong, he doesn’t need to rely on musical wizardry to draw the ear. His understated production and idiosyncratic voice really help Joe Pug stand out.

Joe Pug: Messenger (Buy Album)

Of the five nominees in this category, Corb Lund has probably been at this the longest. Lund was playing in punk bands in his native Alberta, Canada in the late 1980’s before Sarah Jarosz was even born. His 2009 album Losin’ Lately Gambler is his sixth solo recording and his first with U.S. based New West Records. With it, the five-time winner of the Canadian Country Music Association’s Roots Artist of the Year Award (He’s also a Juno Award Winner) is starting to make some noise here in the states. It’s about time we paid attention.

There isn’t much need for analysis here. Bingham is the likely run-away winner. Nobody… new artist or not… has had a higher profile than him in the past year. It’s not even close. If I was just picking a favorite, it would be Joe Pug. He’s probably a long shot at best.
My prediction: Ryan Bingham
My vote (If I had one): Joe Pug

2010 Americana Music Awards Nominees: Duo/Group of the Year

Posted in Americana Music Awards 2010, Band of Heathens, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dave Rawlings Machine, The Avett Brothers on August 30, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

It’s almost that time again. The annual Americana Music Honors & Awards are set to take place September 9th at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville as part of the 2010 Americana Music Association Conference. As I do every year, I plan on spending the next couple of weeks reviewing the nominees for each award and attempting to handicap the competition.

We’ll start with the nominees for Duo/Group of the Year.

I was largely unfamiliar with the Avett Brothers when I saw them perform for the first time at the 2004 AMA Conference. I was completely entranced by their energetic spirit and punk/folk aesthetic. I became a fan on the spot. Since then, The Avetts have continued to tour relentlessly while seemingly picking up fans at every stop along the way.

In fact, for their latest album, 2009’s I and Love and You, The Avetts graduated from indie label Ramseur Records to record for major label Columbia under producer Rick Rubin. With the move, the band also expanded its sound to include piano and more lush arrangements. Being part of the Columbia stable also allowed them to take their music to a much larger audience. By gaining exposure for themselves… they have brought exposure to Americana music as a whole.
Avett Brothers: January Wedding (Buy Album)

Like The Avett Brothers, our second nominee also has roots in acoustic music. Unlike The Avetts, however, The Carolina Chocolate Drops seem much more content to stay closer to the traditional side of things. The Chocolate Drops pride themselves on keeping alive the traditions of the African American string bands that were prevalent in the 19th century, but are mostly extinct today. Their standard repertoire of instruments includes fiddle, banjo, jug, kazoo, and a wide variety of percussive elements.

Their calling card is the fact that they do traditional very, very well. Go to one of their shows and you’ll see what I mean. The trio look and sound the part of the true revivalist act complete with an energy and aura from another era. It’s odd then that the song from their 2010 album Genuine Negro Jig that has brought them the most attention/controversy is a cover of Blu Cantrell’s 2001 R&B anthem “Hit ‘Em Up Style.” For every request I received for the song at WDVX (and there were many), I would also get an angry email asking why the station was now starting to play hip-hop music.
Carolina Chocolate Drops: Hit ‘Em Up Style (Buy Album)

This year marks the second AMA nomination for Austin’s Band of Heathens. They were tabbed last year in the Best New Artist category that was ultimately won by Justin Townes Earle. This year, they’ve graduated to the Duo/Group category on the strength of their stellar sophomore effort One Foot in the Ether. You may remember it as my #2 album of 2009. It also hit number one on the Americana Airplay Chart… making them the first independent band to earn that distinction with each of their first two albums.

The Heathens strength is their songwriting. They boast three top flight Texas song scribes in Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi, and Gordy Quist, and each share songwriting and vocal duties equally. Even though the three started out as solo artists who just happened to play the same songwriter’s showcase, they have forged themselves into a fine band that seems to have a solid future.
Band of Heathens: What’s This World (Buy Album)
Bonus: The band has new free download available on their website.

The final nominee is a familiar face, even if The Dave Rawlings Machine has only really existed for a year or so. Rawlings is the long-time side man and musical partner of Gillian Welch and is one of the most respected musicians in all of Americana music. He was always been happy to stand in the shadows in the past, but stepped into the limelight with the 2009 release A Friend of a Friend… the first album to bear his name.

Of course, Rawlings isn’t alone in the Machine. Some of his friends who came along for the ride include Welch, Benmont Tench, and several members of The Old Crow Medicine Show. It’s really more of a super-group than anything else. Despite the star power he surrounds himself with, it’s Rawlings that shines through. His vocals and virtuoso guitar playing are front and center throughout, and he reminds us of his songwriting chops on the covers-that-really-aren’t-covers “To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)” and “I Hear Them All.” Both songs are Rawlings co-writes even though they originally appeared on albums by Ryan Adams and The Old Crow Medicine Show respectively. The album was good enough to almost make people forget that Gillian Welch hasn’t released an album of her own since 2003.
It also bears mentioning that The Dave Rawlings Machine headlined last year’s biggest Americana concert event… The Big Surprise Tour.
Dave Rawlings Machine: Sweet Tooth (Buy Album)
Four great acts… four worthy champions. The Avetts and the Chocolate Drops both helped expand the Americana fanbase, The Heathens did things no indie artist has ever done, and The Machine was… well… a well-oiled machine.
My Vote (If I Had One): Dave Rawlings Machine
My Prediction: Dave Rawlings Machine

Weekend YouTube: Wanda Jackson

Posted in Americana Music Awards 2010, Wanda Jackson on August 28, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

It’s almost time again for the Americana Music Honors & Awards show… the annual event that takes place each year at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium to honor the very best in Americana music. This year’s show is September 9th, and as I’ve done in the past, I plan on using this space to preview and handicap the awards races to try to pick a winner.

Today’s Weekend YouTube (new name, same feature) will take a brief look at this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance winner, Wanda Jackson. Jackson was known as the Queen of Rockabilly in the 1950’s and 60’s and was one of the first female stars of rock and country music. She is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and served as a tremendous influence on many of the female artists who followed her.

Jackson is now in her early 70’s, but continues to record and tour. It’s hard to stop the original “Hard Headed Woman.”

Here are a couple of classic performance clips from Wanda Jackson.

And a more recent performance to prove she’s still got it…