2017 Americana Music Awards nominees announced

The Americana Music Association unveiled its nominees for the 2017 Americana Music Awards in a press event at the Country Music Hall of Fame.  It’s a nice mix of veterans (Rodney Crowell, John Prine), today’s mainstays (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson) and emerging artists (Aaron Lee Tasjan, Margo Price and more.)

Album of the Year

“American Band,” Drive-By Truckers, Produced by David Barbe

“A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” Sturgill Simpson, Produced by Sturgill Simpson

“Close Ties,” Rodney Crowell, Produced by Kim Buie and Jordan Lehning

“Freedom Highway, Rhiannon Giddens, Produced David Bither, Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell

“The Navigator,” Hurray for the Riff Raff, Produced by Paul Butler

 

Artist of the Year

Jason Isbell

John Prine

Lori McKenna

Margo Price

Sturgill Simpson

 

Duo/Group of the Year

Billy Bragg & Joe Henry

Drive-By Truckers

Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives

The Lumineers

 

Emerging Artist of the Year

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Aaron Lee Tasjan

Amanda Shires

Brent Cobb

Sam Outlaw

 

Song of the Year

“All Around You,” Sturgill Simpson, Written by Sturgill Simpson

“It Ain’t Over Yet,” Rodney Crowell (with Rosanne Cash & John Paul White), Written by Rodney Crowell

“To Be Without You,” Ryan Adams, Written by Ryan Adams

“Wreck You,” Lori McKenna, Written by Lori McKenna and Felix McTeigue

 

Instrumentalist of the Year

Spencer Cullum, Jr.

Jen Gunderman

Courtney Hartman

Charlie Sexton

Jason Isbell tops Americana Music Awards

By Ken Paulson

The annual Americana Music Awards and Honors event is always a special evening and one of the most memorable musical events in a city legendary for them.
This year I had the honor of joining Joe Henry in awarding the Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award to Billy Bragg. That’s always an honor, and offers the chance to see witness the backstage energy at the Ryman Auditorium. The artists are always pumped for  this special show.
That translates onstage to truly striking performances.
Most surprising was George Strait’s performance with Jim Lauderdale of the latter’s “King of Broken Hearts.” I’d never seen Strait on stage before and it quickly became clear why he’s such a giant in country music. Show host Lauderdale, who received the rarely-awarded Wagonmaster Award,  seemed deeply touched by Strait’s appearance.
Jason Isbell had a another great year, winning the awards for top album and song of the year.
The evening’s winners at the 2-16 Americana Music Awards;
Album of the Year: Something More Than Free, Jason Isbell, Produced by Dave Cobb
Artist of the Year: Chris Stapleton
Group/Duo of the Year: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
Song of the Year: “24 Frames” Jason Isbell; Written by Jason Isbell
Emerging Artist of the Year: Margo Price
Instrumentalist of the Year: Sara Watkins
Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award co-presented by the Americana Music
Association and the First Amendment Center: Billy Bragg
Lifetime Achievement Award, Trailblazer: Shawn Colvin
Lifetime Achievement Award, Songwriting: William Bell
Lifetime Achievement Award, Performance: Bob Weir
Lifetime Achievement Award, WagonMaster: Jim Lauderdale
President’s Award: Woody Guthrie

Americana Music Grammy award nominees announced

Basic CMYKThe Recording Academy has announced this year’s nominees for Grammy Awards and the roster of Americana artists is rich and familiar. The nominees for both Best Americana Album and Best American Roots song are almost identical, with Jason Isbell, the Mavericks, Punch Brothers and  Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell appearing in both categories.
Winners will be announced on Feb. 15 in Los Angeles.
Best Americana Album
Brandi Carlile, The Firewatcher’s Daughter
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, The Traveling Kind
Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free
The Mavericks, Mono
Punch Brothers, The Phosphorescent Blues
Best American Roots Song
The Mavericks, “All Night Long”
Don Henley & Merle Haggard, “The Cost of Living”
Punch Brothers, “Julep”
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, “The Traveling Kind”
Jason Isbell, “24 Frames”
Best American Roots Performance
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, “And Am I Born to Die”
Buddy Guy, “Born to Play Guitar”
The Milk Carton Kids, “City of Our Lady”
Punch Brothers, “Julep”
Mavis Staples, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean”
Best Bluegrass Album
Dale Ann Bradley, Pocket Full of Keys
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Before the Sun Goes Down
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, In Session
Ralph Stanley & Friends, Man of Constant Sorrow
The Steeldrivers, The Muscle Shoals Recordings
 Best Folk Album
Norman Blake, Wood, Wire & Words
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Rhiannon Giddens, Tomorrow Is My Turn
Patty Griffin, Servant of Love

After Nashville: Jason Isbell’s 2015 concert schedule

Jason Isbell at the Americana Music Festival Honors and Awards show in 2014.

Jason Isbell at the Americana Music Festival Honors and Awards show in 2014.

Nashville – Jason Isbell’s opening show at the Ryman Auditorium for a four-night run drew a rave review from the Tennessean’s Juli Thanki, who wrote:

“Isbell isn’t a flashy performer. Instead, he lets his lyrics do the heavy lifting, and the packed house was enthralled, singing along with songs like “Codeine” and a stunning rendition of “Cover Me Up.”
Isbell will be at the Ryman through Oct. 26, but here’s the schedule for the rest of the tour:
10/29 – Amarillo, TX – Potter County Memorial Stadium
10/30 – New Orleans, LA – Voodoo Music Experience
11/6 – Knoxville, TN – Tennessee Theatre
11/7 – Boone, NC – Schaefer Center for the Arts
11/8 – Chattanooga, TN – Tivoli Theatre
11/12 – Madison, WI – Capitol Theater
11/13 – Eau Claire, WI – State Theatre
11/14 – Green Bay, WI – Meyer Theatre
11/19 – Durham, NC – Durham Performing Arts Center
11/20 – Roanoke, VA – Berglund Center
11/21 – Savannah, GA – Lucas Theatre for the Arts
12/9 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater
12/10 & 11 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
12/12 – Omaha, NE – Sokol Auditorium
1/6 – Oslo, Norway – Rockefeller
1/7 – Stockholm, Sweden – Bern
1/8 – Gotenburg, Sweden – Pustervik
1/9 – Copenhagen, Denmark – Vega
1/11 – Berlin, Germany – Privatclub
1/12 – Hamburg, Germany – Knust
1/13 – Cologne, Germany – Blue Shell
1/15 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
1/16 – Brussels, Belgium – Orangerie
1/18 – Paris, France – La Maroquinerie
1/19 – Brighton, UK – Concorde 2
1/20 – Bristol, UK – Trinity
1/22 – London, UK – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
1/23 – Manchester, UK – Ritz
1/24 – Glasgow, UK – O2 ABC Celtic Connections
1/31-2/6 – Miami, FL Cayamo Cruise
2/11 & 12 – Austin, TX – ACL Live at the Moody Theater
2/16 – Dallas, TX – South Side Ballroom
2/17 – St. Louis, MO – Peabody Opera House
2/19 – Indianapolis, IN – The Murat Theatre
2/20 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
2/25 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
2/27 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
2/29 – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Music Hall
3/1 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Theatre
3/2 – Pittsburgh, PA – Benedum Center for the Performing Arts
3/5 – St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre

 

Review: Jason Isbell’s “Something More than Free”

By Paul T. Mueller

isbellJason Isbell had quite a challenge in following up his excellent 2013 album, Southeastern, which was a thing of rare power and beauty. Fortunately, he was up to the task. His latest, Something More Than Free, is an excellent collection in its own right. Isbell has a good eye for revealing details, and a gift for weaving them into songs that touch on themes both personal and universal.

It would have been tough to match the visceral impact of Southeastern’s “Cover Me Up” or “Elephant,” but there’s still plenty here that’s strong enough to impress on first listen and nuanced enough to reward further examination.

Things get off to a bouncy start with “If It Takes a Lifetime,” featuring an infectious violin riff courtesy of Amanda Shires, Isbell’s wife and collaborator. Isbell’s songwriting skill is much in evidence in the narrative of a man who’s learned from his mistakes, and has come to understand that happiness is a journey, not a destination. He pursues that theme further in “24 Frames,” which considers the idea that everything good can disappear in a second – the time it takes a movie camera to shoot 24 frames.

So it goes for the album’s other nine songs. More highlights:

  • “Flagship,” a sweet love song in which the narrator sees a couple “sitting there a thousand miles apart” and pleads, “Baby, let’s not ever get that way.”
  • “The Life You Chose,” which asks a tough question: “Are you living the life you chose? Are you living the life that chose you?”
  • The title track, a meditation on the value of work in which the narrator concludes, “I’m doing what I’m on this earth to do.” Clearly the same can be said of Isbell himself.
  • “Speed Trap Town,” a rueful observation of small-town life in the vein of Steve Earle or James McMurtry.
  • “Palmetto Rose,” a guitar-fueled look at the good and bad of life in a South Carolina city, from the point of view of a cab driver who’s familiar with both.

Isbell is backed by the members of his fine band, The 400 Unit: Sadler Vaden on guitars, Jimbo Hart on bass, Chad Gamble on drums, Derry Deborja on keyboards, and Shires. Producer Dave Cobb also helps out on percussion and acoustic guitar.

Something More Than Free is holding down the No. 1 spot on three Billboard album charts – country, rock and folk. That’s quite an achievement, and a testament to Jason Isbell’s ability to translate human experience into appealing music.

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