A decade ago, when the Americana Music Association was just beginning to come together, the Coen Brother’s smash Oh Brother, Where At Thou was at the height of it’s popularity.
That movie, set in the deep south during the depression, featured a music score produced by T-Bone Burnett that included period music, with a mix of vintage and contemporay artists such as Alison Krause, Emmy Lou Harris, the late John Hartford, Harry McClintock (“Big Rock Candy Mountain”) and others. It was the perfect vehicle for spotlighting music that that was not only made in America, but also helped make America.
Since the creation of the Americana Music Association ten years ago, the acceptance and growth of the genre has been quite phenominal—but just what is Americana Music?
At the association’s annual awards event in Nashville (Thursday, October 13, 2011), it was announced that “Americana,” as it relates to music, had recently been added to Webster’s Dictionary – I checked it out, and sure enough, there it was: “American music having roots in early folk and country music.” But 10 years later, as more and more artists have embraced and influenced the genre, it has matured into something that’s much more than simply a hybrid of folk and country. If anything, it’s now more about creative independence than it is style or sound. It can be simple and melodic, bluesy or right on the edge of rock.
This year’s Americana Honors and Awards opened with a tribute to the music featured in “Oh, Brother” with both Harris and Krauss taking the spotlight. And then, it was on to the awards, all of which are listed at the official Americana Music Association website, but here some a video highlights.
The big winner of the evening was Buddy Miller, who took home both the “Artist of the Year” and the “Instrumentalist Of The Year” awards. In a moment of sincere but almost comic humility, Miller accepted the latter award by saying “I’m really, really, really not that good” and then went back to rip it up with an all-star band that included numerous Nashville notables such as Don Was on bass.
In addition to performances by Miller, Gregg Allman (Lifetime Achievement Award for Performing) and former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant (Album of The Year with Band Of Joy) provided the sold out crowd at the Ryman with highly memorable performances. But they were certainly not the only ones. Amos Lee, Elixabeth Cook, Justin Townes Earle, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Secret Sisters, The Civil Wars and The Avett Brothers, all were on top of their game. For more information, check out the Association’s website –
Listen To “Angel Dance” by The Band Of Joy (Buddy Miller on guitar)