In actual fact, I would like to thank my agent. The good Paul Fenn, my own live agent, sent me a stream of the Americana Awards night from The Ryman Theatre. As you well know, the Ryman is the mother church of country music, and you could not imagine a more hallowed hall in which to host The Americana’s big night of the year. It’s the original home of the Opry, they had a galaxy of stars ready to perform and a wheen of ‘suits’ who seemed to have something to do and say about with the genre.
I’ll be honest here. I didn’t make my way through the whole two and a bit hours…but there were some lovely moments. I really enjoyed The Highwomen with added Yola and a very spirited performance by The Fisk Jubilee Singers. However…and here there is a deep however, I really had to sigh when I heard the outcome of the winners. In truth none of the nominations for album of the year could be described as great records. There are some good moments in all of them and I have a few tracks I could happily enjoy on each. But the winner: ‘Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 1 (Butcher Shoppe Sessions),’ Sturgill Simpson, isn’t even a new record. Sturgill’s album is a remake of his back catalogue and, as much as it is a pleasant surprise after ‘Sound and Fury’ there are other fresher records out there. So my hopes were pinned on people having the good sense to reward Allison Russell (Emerging artist) or Amythyst Kiah (song of the year for Black Myself) but.. no. Instead we got Charley Crockett who is twelve years into a career and on his tenth (count em’ people) album. Emerging eh? Worse than that is an award which John Prine himself would probably, happily forfeit. ‘I Remember Everything’ was favoured over ‘Black Myself’ which, apart from being brilliant and cut twice is surely a song that’s asking the right questions. I love John Prine, but he was rightly and royally lauded in last year’s awards and this was a lost opportunity to honour new artists who have ensured African American voices and stories are being brought to a wider audience.
Having said all of that I’m pretty sure no one takes these things too seriously (least of all the winners) and the Americana Festival is a great showcase for music. We’ll have our Nashville Correspondent on the line during this week’s show to give us his take on all the events of the festival. Bill DeMain will also bring us news and musical tips which, in case you need reminded, have often resulted in us first hearing acts which have become the household names on the AC.
As well as Bill we will hear new music from Hayes Carll, Brandy Carlile, Diana Jones and Nathan Bell. If that’s not enough we’ll have the most surprising version of Jolene from the least likely artist to have tackled the Dolly Parton classic so far. We do all this in two hours, starting at 8 pm this Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland FM or any time then or after on BBC Sounds. Join me if you can.