2015 Americana Music Awards LIVE Blog


Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Saving Country Music’s 2015 Americana Music Awards LIVE blog! As the festivities stream live from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, we’ll tag along to leave our observations, keep up with the winners, discuss the performances, and share what happened with the folks who missed it. So get your refresh fingers ready, and feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments section.

Watch the Awards on SCM LIVE!

Set to perform on the night are:

” Ry Cooder and Sharon White  ” Shakey Graves with Esme Patterson  ” Rhiannon Giddens  ” John Hiatt  ” Houndmouth  ” Jason Isbell  ” Nikki Lane  ” Jim Lauderdale  ” The Lone Bellow ” The Mavericks  ” Buddy Miller with Marc Ribot  ” Keb Mo  ” Robert Randolph with the Fairfield Four and the McCrary Sisters  ” Doug Seegers  ” Lucinda Williams  ” Lee Ann Womack

Buddy Miller will lead the house band consisting of Don Was, Chad Cromwell, Fats Kaplin, Ian Fitchuk, The McCrary Sisters and Bill Payne.

The 2015 Americana Music Awards Nominees

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WINNERS of the 2015 Americana Music Awards

  • Album of the Year – Lucinda Williams “Down Where The Spirit Meets the Bone”
  • Artist of the Year – Sturgill Simpson
  • Song of the Year – Sturgill Simpson
  • Emerging Artist of the Year – Shakey Graves
  • Duo or Group of the Year – The Mavericks
  • Instrumentalist of the Year – John Leventhal

10:37 – Another great presentation by the Americana Music Association for the 2015 awards. They felt about 30 minutes too long, which is only expected because they were, not finishing up until 10:30. That 30 minutes spaced throughout the presentation meant there were a few moments that dragged, but there were also some exceptional moments you won’t see on the mainstream award shows. Artists are given the time to try and capture “moments” and that exactly what Rhiannon Giddens did in her performance. Doug Seegers was another highlight, and the ending singalong with so many musical heroes on the stage at once is always a highlight.

Congratulations to Lucinda Williams on her Album of the Year win, and Sturgill winning Song and Artist of the Year seems richly deserved. Though Sturgill does not seem the awards show type, it did feel strange that he wasn’t there, especially since he was just playing another show on tour instead of being called away on a more important commitment. It could be to create some distance between Americana and where Sturgill wants to go, or it may have been Sturgill didn’t want to face the social awkwardness of receiving awards in public again. Either way, congratulations to him and all the winners.

10:28 – And that’s it folks! I will compose some final thoughts, run down the winners, and we’ll be out of here. THANK YOU to everyone who followed along!

10:26 – The Lone Bellow, Rhiannon Giddens, Raul Malo, Sean and Sarah Watkins all on the stage with Los Lobos.

10:23 – As one of the founding voices of Americana, Lucinda’s win for Album of the Year can’t be surprising. Though it felt like Sturgill’s night for a clean sweep, the honor is very deserved by Lucinda, and it’s good Americana continues to recognize both the young and old.

10:21 – Many of the performers and presenters from the night crowd on stage to join Los Lobos for one final song.

10:19 – WINNER – Lucina Williams’ “Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone” wins the 2015 Americana Award for Album of the Year.

10:14 – 86 the call for a sandwich to be delivered the Saving Country Music headquarters. I found some old Clif bars. Hope they’re not stale. This presentation felt like it has dragged a little bit so it makes sense were well past 10 p.m. Album of the Year still coming up. My prediction is Sturgill.

10:11 – Los Lobos accepting their Lifetime Achievement Award.


10:07 – Raul Malo comes out to present the Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance to Los Lobos, but begins with a dissertation on immigrants, and their contributions to the American culture.

10:06 – WINNER: Sturgill Simpson wins the 2015 Americana Artist of the Year.

10:05 – Sean and Sara Watkins come out to present the Artist of the Year award.

10:04 – Man, if I knew we’d be slipping past 10 p.m. wile still having two major awards to give out, I would have eaten dinner before we started. Who wants to make me a sandwich?

10:01 – The delays could have been from the fact that Dave Rawlings Machine brought a full string section to the stage. Always loved the way David played with his guitar on his hip.


9:55 – As Dave and Gillian stall on stage as technical issues are resolve, they point out Willie Watson is joing them on stage. Willie knows Dave Rawlings because Dave produced some of those early Old Crow Medicine Show records.

9:52 – David Rawlings and Gillian Welch accepting their Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting. Gillian says it’s an honor to receive the award in the Country Mother Church. David says it’s the others singing their songs that allowed them to receive this distinction.


9:48 – Robyn Hitchcock comes out to present the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting wearing a polka-dot shirt, and spewing poetry.


9:42 – New father Jason Isbell leads wife Amanda Shires to the stage to sing “Something More Than Free.”

9:41- Jim Lauderdale talking about The Ryman’s recent $14 million renovation.

9:39 – Lucinda Williams playing “East Side of Town.”


9:33 – Jim Lauderdale introduces the recipient for the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting to the stage, Lucinda Williams.

9:31 – Marc Ribot and Buddy Miller come out to play Hank Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart.” Now the apology to Hank makes more sense.


9:27 – Jim Lauderdale introduces his buddy, Buddy Miller to the stage, who is accompanied by Marc Ribot. Miller admits Mark is really not known in the country world (but should be, apologizing to Hank Williams. But if anyone’s guitar sounds deserve to grace the Ryman’s walls, it would be Ribot’s.

9:23 – Ricky Skaggs, Ry Cooder, and The Whites.


9:18 – “The Lord has put so many great people in my life,” Skaggs says, who came up playing with Flatt & Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, Bill Monroe, and others. He also thanks his wife of 34 years, Sharon White before taking the stage with Sharon, other members of the White family, and Ry Cooder.


9:15 – Ry Cooder comes out to present the Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist to Ricky Skaggs, calling him “The most awesome mandolin player on the planet today.”

9:12 – Back on the Sturgill Simpson topic, Song of the Year was the award I thought he had the hardest chance of nabbing. He could get a clean sweep of the big awards.

9:11 – The Milk Carton Kids introduce MC Jim Lauderdale to the stage to perform, quipping that he has “the hair of David Carradine.”


9:09 – Raul Malo: “I think we’re all in shock. Holy shit we won something!”

9:07 – WINNER The 2015 Americana Music Awards for Vocal Group or Duo of the Year goes to The Mavericks.

9:05 – The always entertaining Milk Carton Kids come out present the Vocal Group or Duo of the Year award.

9:03 – Raul Malo of The Mavericks.


9:01 – Saving COuntry Music Album of the Year alums The Mavericks take the Ryman stage. Jim Lauderdale credits frontman Raul Malo for getting the Americana Awards televised.

9:00 – Shakey Graves accepting his 2015 Emerging Artist of the Year award.


8:57 – WINNER The Americana Music Award for Emerging Artist of the Year goes to Shakey Graves.

8:53 – The Lone Bellow are like the Fun of Americana, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

8:48 – Jed Hilly introduces The Lone Bellow to the stage.

8:46 – As Jed thanks the sponsors, have to say mu faves so far have been Doug Seegers and Rhiannon Giddens. If you don’t know, Rhiannon is from the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Great stuff.

8:43 – The head honcho of Americana Jed Hilly comes out to speak. Sidenote: I accidentally called him “Jeb” in an email last week. I may never live that down.

8:42 – Wow wow. Rhiannon Giddens inciting goosebumps. She just stole the show folks at the Americana Music Awards. Two guns way up!

8:38 – Rhiannon Giddens comes out, first blazing on the fiddle, and then stunning with an a capella introduction. She may just have stolen the show so far.


8:35 – Jim Lauderdale takes a moment to remember a few on the Americana alum, including Billy Block, Ian McLagan, “Little” Jimmy Dickens, and others.

8:32 – I’ve always enjoyed Keb, but I’m not exactly what makes him more Americana than anyone else playing the blues. I guess that’s the eternal Americana paradox.

8:31 – So now that Sturgill has won one of the three major awards on the night, the scenario that he will be the night’s biggest honoree and won’t be on site to soak it all in is still alive.

8:29 – The sweet moment turns a little awkward when it appears the teleprompter screws up. But Keb keeps going.  He then presents the 2015 President’s Award to B.B. King’s memory before finally breaking into a B.B. song.

8:26 – Cool moment! Keb Mo comes out, and introduces B.B. King’s guitar Lucille. She sits in honor on the stage, and before singing, Keb says some sweet words for B.B.

8:25 – WINNER – The 2015 Americana Music Award for Song of the Year goes to Sturgill Simpson for “Turtles All The Way Down.” Producer Dave Cobb comes up to accept the award for Sturgill.

8:23 – Abigail Washburn and Noam Pikelny come out to present the Song of the Year, comparing writing a song to butterflies with razor blades for wings.

8:20 – Nikki Lane comes out looking like a doll from a vintage shop. Only appropriate since she used to own (and still does, maybe?) a vintage store in Nashville. She’s been making a big name herself in the last year in the Americana scene. Singing “Right Time.”


8:18 – You don’t need to know Doug’s back story to appreciate his music. He’s the real deal folks. Excellent performance of “Angie’s Song” from Doug.


8:13 – Buddy Miller introduces the once homeless Doug Seegers as “the most seasoned Emerging Artist of the Year.” If you don’t know Doug’s music, or his story, it’s worth checking out. Doug comes out wearing a Hank-style baby blue note-embroidered cowboy suit.

8:11 – Buddy Miller introduces the house band: Billy Payne, Chad Cromwell, Fats Kaplin, Ian Fitchuk, and The McCrary Sisters. Don Was was supposed to be playing bass, but is apparently suffering from an ear infection.

8:07 – John Hiatt takes the Ryman Auditorium stage. I’ve always liked singers who set their mic’s too high for themselves. Ry Cooder accompanies on slide guitar.


8:02 – Nothing wrong with Houndmouth, but they didn’t feel like they belonged here.

8:01 – I think the Houndmouth drummer worked real hard to make his hair look that bad. And nothing says Millennial like having a Nord Electro 4 on stage.

7:59 – Emerging Artist of the Year nominee Houndmouth takes the stage. All of the Emerging Artist nominees are performing tonight, except for First Aid Kit … and we get the first taste of a bit of washed out sound in the feed. That;ll happen when you have a big band like this.

7:57 – John Leventhal accepting his Americana for Instrumentalist of the Year.


7:55WINNER –  John Leventhal wins Instrumentalist of the Year.

7:54 – Rosanne Cash and Mark Ribot come out to present the Instrumentalist of the Year. If you’ve never heard Mark’s Cuban album, it comes highly recommended.

7:52 – I’d also be lying if I said I knew how her guitar makes sound without having a body.

7:50 – I’d by lying if I said I knew anything about Buffy Sainte-Marie’s music, but I do remember her on Sesame Street.

7:47 – Buffy Sainte-Marie being presented with the Freedom of Speech in Music Award.

Buffy Sainte-Marie-americana-2015

7:43 – “Dearly Departed” is a little too hipster for me, especially in this setting. But Skakey and Esme Patterson did a good job.

7:42 – I remember watching Shakey Graves at Hole in the Wall and The White Horse in Austin before anyone knew who the hell he was.


7:40 – Introducing Shakey Graves, Jim Lauderdale talks about the importance of showcase new and emerging talent. “Let’s hear how the roots and branches of our music grows. ”

7:37 – This song reminds me a lot of Julie Miller’s “All My Tears” from Emmylou Harris’s “Wrecking Ball” album. It’s real good.

7:35 – Lee Ann is an interesting case study. Americana fully embraced her this last year, but then she still gets nominated for the CMA for Female Vocalist of the Year. The best of both worlds I suppose.

7:33 – The gorgeous and talented Lee Ann Womack takes the stage. “I always come and watch, so it’s nice to be a part of the show.”

7:31 – Really digging this song from Henley. I know he and the Eagles are a polarizing subject, but I think he’s doing this country record for the right reasons.

7:29 – Don’t know how it is for y’all out there, but the stream and audio is excellent here at the Saving Country Music headquarters.

7:27 – Done Henley accepts his Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Rodney Crowell before taking the stage to sing the title track from his upcoming solo record “Cass County.” He dedicates it to the Americana farmer, and the people affected by the wildfires out West.


7:24 – “Trailblazers are also curators of tradition.” — Don Henley

7:22 – I wonder if anyone has the guts to bring up the bad reviews the Hank Williams biopic “I Saw The Light” Rodney worked on backstage.

7:20 – Do we think it’s a coincidence Don Henley is receiving an Americana Lifetime Achievement Awards a few weeks before he releases his solo country record?

7:18 – MC Jim Lauderdale always has some insightful things to say in his introduction. “The crack house band! I mean the crack, house band!

7:17 – Just when I was about to say this performance needed more Robert Randolph, he blows out the eardrums out of everyone in the first six rows.

7:17 – Praise the Lawd!

7:12 – Slide guitar maestro Robert Randolph with the Fairfield Four and McCrary Sisters start of the festivities. Robert got his start playing steel guitar in churches accompanying gospel music, so this feels appropriate.

7:10 – Here we go folks!

7:08 – See, this is what separates independent music from the mainstream: it’s endearingly late and offbeat, and proud of it.

7:05 – While we’re waiting, if you missed it below, Sturgill Simpson, who may be the night’s biggest winner, is not in attendance. But Jason Isbell, Lee Ann Womack, Jim Lauderdale, Shakey Graves, and a bucnh of other cool cats are. Should be a great show.

7:02 – Looks like the festivities are just a few minutes behind folks! They just reset the countdown to the broadcast 5 minutes.

6:55 – Some pictures from the Americana Red Carpet, courtesy of the Americana Music Association’s Twitter feed:

Lee Ann Womack

The Maverics

Nikki Lane

Rodney Crowell





6:54 – Predictions? It could be a big night for Sturgill Simpson. He could walk away with Artist, Album, and Song of the Year, while his guitar player Laur Joamets has to be a favorite for Instrumentalist of the Year. But there’s a hitch: Laur Joamets won’t be there, and neither will Sturgill. They’re playing a show tonight at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, VA. Aside from that, I don’t have a good bead on who will win tonight.

6:50 – Lifetime Achievement Award honorees include Ricky Skaggs, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Don Henley, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Los Lobos.

6:48 – Presenters Include: ” Milk Carton Kids  ” Rosanne Cash  ” Abigail Washburn  ” Noam Pikelny  ” Ron Sexsmith  ” Mary Gauthier  ” Rodney Crowell  ” Sara and Sean Watkins  ”  John Kay  ”  Ken Paulson  ” Robyn Hitchcock

6:45 – A list of the nominees for those that haven’t seen them yet:

Artist of the Year: Rhiannon Giddens, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Lucinda Williams, Lee Ann Womack

Album of the Year: And The War Came Shakey Graves; Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone Lucinda Williams; Metamodern Sounds In Country Music Sturgill Simpson;  The Way I’m Livin’ Lee Ann Womack; Tomorrow Is My Turn Rhiannon Giddens

Song of the Year: “Dearly Departed” Shakey Graves; “East Side Of Town” Lucinda Williams; “Terms Of My Surrender” John Hiatt; “Turtles All The Way Down” Sturgill Simpson; “You’re The Best Lover That I Ever Had”  — Steve Earle

Duo/Group of the Year: Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Lone Bellow, The Mavericks, Punch Brothers, Shovels & Rope

Emerging Artist of the Year: First Aid Kit, Houndmouth, Nikki Lane, Doug Seegers, Shakey Graves

Instrumentalist of the Year: Hubby Jenkins, Laur Joamets, Greg Leisz, John Leventhal, Stuart Mathis

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