It’s only the second time the Americana UK awards have taken place. Last Thursday we gathered in an old church in Hackney to celebrate Americana music and it felt as if the music had come of age. Perhaps it was the diversity of the performers, perhaps it was the geographic spread of the winners or perhaps it was because we were joined, on the night, by two of the greatest musicians these small islands have ever produced that we felt Americana was being truly affirmed.
I’ve always been a little doubtful about tidy music genres but I accept that Americana is a useful term as there is so much country music these days which doesn’t feel very country at all. Equally there is much outside the Nashville mainstream which celebrates the roots of Hillbilly/folk and western music more eloquently and more intensely than anything from Music Row. That said, there is also much in Nashville to get excited about and we in AC land would be the first to draw attention to the great singers and songs in contemporary country.
This Tuesday on the AC we’ll bring you the full range. From the doyen of English folk, Richard Thompson to desert blue grass from Utah and all points in between.
Firstly we welcome three Utah musicians who take the name 3hattrio. Their album, Solitaire, caught our attention late last year. They use a bluegrass based sound to make a unique music informed, as much as anything, by the desert that surrounds them as it is by the instruments they play. If you’ve not heard 3hatrio I’ll avoid trying to describe them in favour of letting you hear them in the first hour of the programme. It’s another wild strand of Americana that might well have you wanting to find out more.
In the second part of the show we will bring you more guests that we’ve ever had on one programme before. From backstage at last week’s Americana UK awards we will have a full report and catch up on the winners. I’ll be talking to organisers Bob and Trudie Harris, musical director Ethan Johns, Andy Fairweather-Low, Beth Nielson Chapman, Richard Thompson, Lewis and Leigh, Yola Carter and Sam Outlaw. I’ve probably forgotten a few people already. There was a great atmosphere at last week’s awards as it had been a great musical evening. Richard Thompson closed the whole evening off which had included a royal endorsement from Sir Van Morrison…..he was smiling and telling jokes! For Richard Murdoch and myself it felt like we were the proud parents at a school prize giving. Three of Thursdays winners had their first airplay on Another Country and it was genuinely moving to see the music of Sam Outlaw, Margo Price and Lewis & Leigh recognised and rewarded.
You can hear the music and the conversation from this great night in the second hour of this week’s AC. If we get any time we’ll try to squeeze in some great new things too. Join me this Tuesday from five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland if you can.