2012 Americana Music Award Winners & Recap

September 12, 2012 - By Trigger  //  News  //  21 Comments

Wednesday night (9-12-2012) country music’s mother church The Ryman Auditorium was alive with the sounds of The 2012 Americana Music Awards that saw an always talented, eclectic (and sometimes confusing) flock of musicians, songwriters, and performers amass to give credit to the best and brightest of the year. Part of the greater Americana Music Conference happening in Nashville this week, the awards featured excellent performances from legends such as studio great Booker T. Jones and songwriter Richard Thompson, as well as Emerging Artist nominees The Alabama Shakes and Deep Dark Woods.

Some highlights of the night were Booker T sitting in with The Alabama Shakes, Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels & Rope doing the “Another Like You” duet with Hayes Carll, and my favorite part of the night, when Song of the Year winner Jason Isbell thanked his manager Traci Thomas of Thirty Tigers, and then took a shot at The Country Music Anti-Christ saying he wanted an empty chair onstage “…so I could yell at an invisible Scott Borchetta.” Generations were bridged when Patterson Hood of the Drive By Truckers, the son of a famous studio musician David Hood of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section gave an excellent speech inducting Booker T Jones as an Americana Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for instrumentation. 

Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance inductee Bonnie Raitt closed out the festivities with two songs, including her signature “Thing Called Love” before the stage filled with Americana dignitaries including Bonnie and John Hiatt to do a stirring rendition of The Band‘s “The Weight” in tribute to the late Levon Helm, who was remembered along with Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs.

Jim Lauderdale hosted the event, and Buddy Miller, Don Was and others worked all night as the Americana house band.

How to define the term “Americana” was the running joke all night (and is somewhat of a tradition of the awards), but whether you were listening in through NPR’s live stream or lucky enough to subscribe to the right service get it on the TV, it was hard to argue with the talent and accolades the Americana Music Association used to define the 2012 awards.

2012 Americana Music Award Winners

Instrumentalist of The Year

Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch’s guitar accompanist.

Album of the Year

“This Ones For Him” A Tribute to Guy Clark

Song of the Year

Jason Isbell’s “Alabama Pines” off the album Here We Rest

Emerging Artist of the Year

The Alabama Shakes

Artist of the Year

Gillian Welch

Duo/Group of the Year

The Civil Wars

Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance

Bonnie Raitt

Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting

Richard Thompson

Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist

Booker T. Jones

Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive

Dennis Lord

21 Comments to “2012 Americana Music Award Winners & Recap”

  • I was really disappointed when I found out that I was not going to be able to stream the awards show online, and that there was no way watching it on TV was possible. But by the end, I was so thankful I got to listen instead of watch thanks to NPR. It allowed me to focus so much more on the music and performances, and coming from the world-renown natural reverb of The Ryman Auditorium, listening like people used to back in the early century huddled around their radios with only their imaginations to paint the picture, it was a real treat. Some excellent music and moments went down, and it was a treat to hear.

  • Jason Isbell sounds like he reads SCM regularly. First, he takes a shot at the concept of “saving” musical genres, and now he specifically singles out Scott Borchetta, who this website has labeled the “Country Music Anti-Christ”, for attack. Seems like pretty significant evidence that he frequents this site.

    I wonder if he comments here too.

    • A lot more folks read SCM than people think, but Isbell doesn’t have to frequent this site to know that Scott Borchetta is a snake, he just has to be paying attention.

      • I wouldn’t characterize Scott Borchetta as a snake. He’s just a savvy businessman who showed with his signing of Taylor Swift that he can recognize when talent and accessibility intersect. If anything, he’s better than the executives of the other labels, in that he has built his business model on the concept of artistic freedom.

        I think the “snake” designation would be better reserved for someone like Mike Curb, whose many wrongdoings you yourself have catalogued on this website several times.

  • Does the reviewer not know The band song is called THE WEIGHT not ‘Take A Load Off?’

    • Nobody is more aware that the song is called “The Weight” than the reviewer at this moment. It’s called trying to push out an article before the head must meet pillow, and being too poor to hire an editor. I have maybe listened to that song 1000 times. Thanks for the heads up. My infinite apologies.

  • “Alabama Pines” is a truly great song, with both the lyrics and the acoustic, sparsely produced music working together perfectly to create a wistful, nostalgic mood. I don’t see why the song can’t be a hit on country radio, especially when Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” was such a hit.

  • I was able to watch this on AXS last night. First time I have been exposed to Larry Campbell. His skill with string instruments is impressive. Jason Isbell has performed locally in Denton Texas opening for James McMurtry, and was enjoyable. Everybody keep up the very good work you’re doing. God bless you all and your families.

    Larry Cupp

    p.s. Larry Campbell needs to work on his website. :)

  • You mean “The Weight” by the The Band.

    For all I know, the Guy Clark tribute album is a great one, but I would have preferred the award not go to a tribute album. Gillian Welch and Jason Isbell both had strong albums, but they both did win other awards. And Civil Wars as best group when Carolina Chocolate Drops and Gillian & Dave were also nominees? Hmmmmm.

  • That’s so awesome that Isbell called out Scott Borchetta. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift is sitting in a mansion somewhere in Nashville penning “I Hate My Boyfriend Because He Was Mean to Me One Time.”

    • Quick correction: Taylor lives in a condo, not a mansion.

  • I watched it and dvr’d it and will probably watch it many more times.Real enjoyable.It was nice to see so many artists you can only see on youtube and normally don’t see on TV for once.Seeing Tom T hall with Womack was cool as well.And Carrie Ann Hearst seems to be quite the little pistol! Also,Jim Lauderdale’s “streching” abilities in between bands were a hoot at times.It was a really fun show to watch.I think maybe the first awards show I ever seen where I didn’t spend most of it rolling my eyes or being pissed off,lol.I guess good music helps a lot.

    On another note,I heard somewhere Ryan Secreast owns AXS TV? If so,that feller sure is building quite the empire,has his hands on a bit of everything.

  • Another correction: Taylor Swift just purchased a nice little place in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts across the street from the Kennedy compound. Its quite convenient since her current 18 year old Kennedy boy toy just started his senior year of prep school. The mansion was listed for $ 14 million but with a little help from the Kennedy’s Taylor picked up the place for a paltry $ 5 million! Once the romance ends, and Taylor has acquired all of the songwriting inspiration available, she can flip the house for a sizable instant profit! Once her music career peters out, will Taylor become the next Donald Trump? Hmm…

    • “Once her music career peters out”

      I don’t think you want to bet on this happening anytime in the next few decades. It wouldn’t be good for your bank account!

      At the very least, she will remain a songwriter for a long time to come, writing for others if not for herself.

  • You know, I’ve tried to listen to these bands. I tried to list to the winners last year. And you know what? I still can’t. A good portion (not all) sounds like your typical indie shoe-gazer crap with a twang and additional string instruments. Somewhat glad they’re not calling themselves “country.” But hey, at least it’s “real” music, right?

  • y’know, i’m torn on the AMA thing. Here’s the rub. I like that the AMA is recognizing the more creative side of roots/country. But the call themselves the AMERICANA music association. Americana is by definition anything indiginous to america. So, by all rights, the americana music association should encompass a lot more than just the sad bastard pseudo country / indie rock, that they seem so enamored with. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the bands that the AMA supports, and I’m glad they’re doing that. But at an Americana music conference, I wanna see Blues, Jazz, Cajun, Zydeco, and all of their sub genres represented.
    I know I’m being petulant, but it’s a pet peeve of mine, (that I actually brought up to an AMA board member at a show 2 years ago. She agreed with me btw). Honestly, I think that the Muddy Roots festival, was a far more ‘fair’ representation of the depth and breadth of Americana music.

    wouldn’t it be exciting to see LC Ulmer or Robert Belfour get some recognition from the AMA? or to see an act like the Calamity Cubes, or Jayke Orvis play the AMA conference, and show them that a band can actually have some energy on stage, and still play great music?

    I’ll go back to my idealistic corner now.

    ‘night y’all.

    • Your concern about excessive levels of rock in Americana seems to fit right into Triggerman’s supergenre theory. It appears that as mainstream rock has faded, both mainstream country and Americana have absorbed substantial rock influences in order to attract the disaffected rock fan base. I can actually speak from personal experience here: I’m a fan of 80s and early 90s soft rock and I turned to country music over the last 3 years in order to find an alternative to today’s mainstream pop music (most of which I cannot tolerate).

      Unfortunately, the tradeoff for the overrepresentation of rock in Americana is the underrepresentation of the genres that you mentioned (blues, jazz, Cajun, Zydeco, etc.). I suppose the situation is similar to what’s happening in mainstream country music, with pop country (i.e. soft-rock country) and hard-rock-country crowding out the classic country sound (i.e. fiddle, pedal steel guitar, and a two-step beat).

      • I’m not so concerned with the over saturation of the indie rock element, as I am annoyed that have taken a phrase (americana music) that covers such a huge swath of amazing soulful music, packaged and re-branded it in such a way, that it now only applies to former ‘country’ artists who held onto their soul and creative integrity, or has-been/never was indie rockers who had to mellow out because teen angst isn’t hip when you’re 40. The AMA’s apparent defintiion of Americana starts somewhere in neighborhood of the mid tempo bluegrass, and ends somewhere in the vicinity of droning slow to midtempo indie rock with a token pedal steel or fiddle on it. I was honestly shocked when they did the big Jason and the Scorchers show a couple years ago. That’s waaayyy too rockin’ for they’re target demographic.

        Americana is the entire scope of american music. Jimmie Rodgers is obviously americana, but so is otis redding, Muddy Waters, and Tom Waits. I mean really, you could say that NWA and The Ramones are Americana. The AMA could be so much more than it is, but they focus on such a narrow subgenre of american music, it just leaves me cold.

    • I totally agree. Though I tend to enjoy and appreciate the music of Americana more than let’s say mainstream country, their perspective hasn’t broadened as Americana has taken off and gained a wider acceptance. I talked at length about this when the nominations were announced.

      • I know you’re not a fan Trig, but James McMurtry is soon headed to the studio to do a new album. I saw an interview with him a few weeks ago. He said he was waiting for the weather in Austin to cool down a bit and then he was going to cut a new album. Just a little update for the Americana genre…

  • AXS TV will broadcast the 2013 Americana Honors & Awards program, a special dedicated to celebrating American Roots Music, hosted by Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller, at 8:00PM ET / 5:00PM on Sunday March 9.


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