The 2016 Ameripolitan Awards in Words and Pictures
According to Blake Shelton, nobody wants to listen to grandpa’s music anymore. But somebody forgot to tell the throng that assembled at Austin’s historic Paramount Theatre on Tuesday evening (2-16) and filled the venue to capacity for the 3rd installment of the Dale Watson-helmed Ameripolitan Awards.
The Western fashion was at its finest, and so was the talent, including country legend Charley Pride who headlined the event, as well as a great duet performance between Dale Watson and Georgette Jones, and performances by James Hand, Whitey Morgan, Unknown Hinson who the 3rd time was the charm making it to the awards, Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Doyle & Debbie,
The Country Side of Harmonica Sam who traveled all the way from Sweden, Roger Alan Wade, Rosie Flores, and surprise last-minute performer Bill Kirchen.
Unfortunately the evening’s two “Founder of the Sound” recipients couldn’t make the festivities. Wanda Jackson was hindered by snow, and Red Simpson passed away in January, though his son was in attendance to accept the award. Red was given a proper tribute by Bill Kirchen, with Dale Watson and others joining in for the evening’s final song “Highway Patrol,” and Rosie Flores, Kim Lenz, and Marti Brom came out on stage to perform a medley of Wanda Jackson songs on her behalf.
But Charley Pride was there, and performed three songs, including his signature “Kiss An Angel Good Morning,” and finished up with a Ray Price song in tribute to his former friend and neighbor. Charley received five standing ovations when he took the stage, yet when he was telling the story of his career, you could hear a pin drop in the Paramount.
This year’s festivities were hosted by Ray Benson of Asleep At The Wheel fame, who took over admirably for Mojo Nixon who hosted the two previous years. Ray’s steady hand at the rudder, yet insightful and timely humor made him a perfect selection for the spot, and was one of the highlights of the show. Unlike the 2nd year that had some starts and stops in the presentation, everything ran smooth this year, and Ray was always ready with a quippy story about the next performer or presenter, and filled whatever time was necessary for stage turnovers without the crowd being any wiser.
The presentation slightly plateaued this year after growing leaps and bounds for the first and second year, but this was to be expected. The effort on video presentations was a little less from previous years, but there was a good one for Red Simpson near the end of the night. Nearing four hours may be a little too long for some people for an awards show, but there wasn’t a dull moment during the event. Celebrity presenters included Mike Wolfe of American Pickers, Aaron Franklin of Franklin’s Barbecue PBS show, and Johnny Knoxville.
The big winner of the night was Western Swing fiddler Jason Roberts who took home both the award for Western Swing Male and the Ralph Mooney Ameripolitan Musician trophy. It was also good to see Ameripolitan branching out some to include Jason Boland and The Stragglers in the winners and try to help grow the Ameripolitan tent, which has seen many of the same faces the first few years.
Other winners include:
- Honky Tonk Group – Jeff Woolsey and the Dancehall Kings
- Honky Tonk Female – Margo Price
- Honk Tonk Male – Charlie Thompson
- Western Swing Group – Billy Mata and the Texas Tradition
- Western Swing Female – Carolyn Martin
- Western Swing Male – Jason Roberts
- Rockabilly Group – The Bellfuries
- Rockabilly Female – Marti Brom
- Rockabilly Male – Wayne Hancock
- Outlaw Group – Jason Boland & The Stragglers
- Outlaw Female – Bonnie Montgomery
- Outlaw Male – Whitey Morgan
- Venue – The White Horse, Austin TX
- Festival – San Angelo Cowboy Gathering
- DJ– Ted Branson, KOOP 91.7FM Austin, TX
- Musician – Jason Roberts
Quotes of the evening:
“I feel like a munchkin up here.” –Johnny Knoxville standing between Ray Benson and the Freightshakers. They promptly picked him up and elevated Knoxville to their airspace.
“I like to keep abreast of that band.” –Ray Benson about the busty side of Doyle & Debbie.
“I’m a traditionalist and glad of it.” — Charley Pride.
“I don’t have a wife to thank. They all left me.” –Billy Mata of Western Swing Group of the Year “Billy Mata and the Texas Tradition.”
NOTE: Please understand nobody was “omitted” from coverage on purpose. There were tons of nominees and attendees, and Saving Country Music did what it could to cover as much of the event as possible.
February 17, 2016 @ 11:50 am
The guy with Lisa Pankratz is her husband and fine bassist, Brad Fordham- they play together a lot and work with Dave and Phil Alvin, among others.
February 17, 2016 @ 11:53 am
Thanks Walter! Was right on the tip of my tongue.
February 17, 2016 @ 12:02 pm
You beat me to it, Walter! I have seen them play four times together at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA as the rhythm section for Dave Alvin’s Guilty Ones band (Two Dave shows and two Dave & Phil shows). I met Brad a few weeks ago when the “Kelly Willis and Radio Ranch 25th Anniversary Reunion Tour” made a stop at the Birchmere, as he was the bass player in that band. Cool show.
February 17, 2016 @ 11:53 am
I like “grandpa” music just fine, thankfully. Wanda Jackson is such an interesting character. Back in the day, she recorded in Dutch, German, and Japanese. Many artists of the time, including Johnny Cash, did such international tours and non-English recordings, expanding the market for American music.
February 17, 2016 @ 12:11 pm
Boland looks like he’s wearing a whig…
Darci Carlson. Goodness gracious….. Videos are best on mute…
February 17, 2016 @ 12:20 pm
Yeah, I didn’t even notice him, but I have to say when your hair is natural silver like that, roll with it. It’s worked for Emmylou Harris.
Darci Carlson is great. She was not afraid showcasing her, um, assets last night. I took another photo on the red carpet but I don’t want SCM getting flagged as a porn site :). She’s no bimbo though. I heard her being interviewed over my shoulder and she is very well-spoken and knowledgeable about what’s going on in music, and what Dale is trying to do.
February 17, 2016 @ 12:34 pm
Yeah. Boland looks so much different than he did five years ago. The last time I saw him live, he was starting to grow his hair out. Now, he is unrecognizable. I still say they are the best country act around.
I saw Darci Carlson perform a while back. She is intimidatingly attractive, impossibly statuesque, and an engaging performer. I’m just not a huge fan of her voice. The “I want to be Stevie Nicks” persona is a little trite, too….
The Hillbilly Muslim
February 20, 2016 @ 12:24 am
I seen Darci many times live. She is a great mix of a 90s Seattle sound mix with honky tonk. Seeing her in some dark honky tonk makes you feel like your in some shady business meeting with some drugs lords like a scene from True Detective.
February 17, 2016 @ 1:21 pm
Man, Johnny Knoxville sure has aged. II guess I haven’t seen him in awhile !
February 17, 2016 @ 1:58 pm
That all sounds like a lt of fun.
Not one bro country or faux country singer/band in the group.
Maybe it’s morning in America after all.
February 17, 2016 @ 2:10 pm
Charlie Pride does have an interesting life story. Played minor league ball, lived in Montana. I like that live album he made way back. I hear him on the Opry frequently, when I can pick it up on the AM here in PA.
February 17, 2016 @ 4:15 pm
I heard Charley Pride’s version of Kaw-liga more times than I can count growing up. His son Carlton had a reggae band in San Marcos, but moved to Colorado.
February 17, 2016 @ 5:20 pm
If I had a reggae band, I’d move to Colorado.
I knew a guy whose wife was Jamaican. Said country music, particularly gospel, was popular with the locals. They can pick up the radio stations from the gulf cities.
Chris Blackwell of Island Records said that ska/reggae rhythm was influenced by Fats Domino and the New Orleans syncopated rhythms.
February 17, 2016 @ 3:02 pm
I don’t know if this Ameripolitan concept is going to survive, but I can tell you that it is leading to some great showcases in Austin before the awards show. Last weekend, we saw Wayne Hancock, Brennen Leigh, JP Harris, Cale Tyson, The Rizdales, Casey James Prestwood, and Charlie Thompson all play in local bars, and missed just as many other bands of interest due to schedule conflicts.
February 17, 2016 @ 4:39 pm
I love how they ride to the event in vintage cars instead of limos. Now that is riding in style.
February 18, 2016 @ 3:00 pm
Yes, the car in the front, Chevy Belair -57 4 door sedan, it’s a truly wonderful car… It’s together with the Chevy Impala 58-59 one of the most popular models in Sweden. My brother bought one last summer but a year older than the one in the picture. (Chevy Belair -56 4 -door sport sedan.)
But he bought from somewhere in the Midwest and it’s in a terrible condition. Completely eaten by rust. It’ll probably take him at least 5 years to renovate it, to the same condition as the one in picture seems to be in.
February 17, 2016 @ 4:51 pm
Man, this is just awesome. Great photos. I love the venue, the cool clothes, and the vintage cars, and I wish I could have been there to hear the music.
Previously, I’ve had mixed feelings about the “Ameripolitan” term, due to not really understanding the need for it, but this event does seem to be filling a niche that’s not being served by Americana (or mainstream country, obviously), and for that reason, I’m guessing it will continue to grow. I like the fact that nominations seemed to be more inclusive than in previous years. And inviting Charley Pride was an inspired choice. Same goes for replacing the previous host with Ray Benson.
From the outside looking in, the only thing that confuses me is the way some of the categories are configured. Like, surely Whitey Morgan and the 78’s are a “group”, not a solo act? Also, the strict categorization of categories like “honky tonk” and “outlaw” are bound to create some confusion. But those are minor quibbles.
Really cool stuff.
February 17, 2016 @ 6:56 pm
How rad would it be to go to this?! Very cool. I would love to see this event expand and gain popularity to the point where it would garner some kind of filming /tv type production. At least to the point where it could be broadcast on the internet so old farts and jackasses like myself could watch it.
February 17, 2016 @ 8:49 pm
February 17, 2016 @ 9:40 pm
They really need to do something to make it available to the masses, at least a audio simulcast or something. Hell I could do that on SCM. I think it would help expand the reach of the event.
February 17, 2016 @ 7:28 pm
Very cool event. But, I know of only about 1/3 of the artists nominated! I’m going to start working my way through the list, but I don’t know where to start. I mentioned this last year – I wish Trig would cover more of these artists (you know, in his free time).
February 17, 2016 @ 9:38 pm
I’ve covered quite a few of the artists that were there last night, including some of the new and obscure ones like Margo Price and Darci Carlson. But that’s one of the reasons I cover this event so hard. It would take me months to feature every one of them, but this event gives us all a good list of folks to go digging through to find something cool.
February 17, 2016 @ 10:56 pm
And I thank you! And I will use the Amazon link to purchase the albums of the artists I find interesting.
February 17, 2016 @ 7:34 pm
Awesome, I would love to go to that one day!! Old cars, and real true music. Neat seeing Mike Wolfe there! Love that show!
February 17, 2016 @ 7:45 pm
Really cool, go whitey!!! That looks like a blast, were DBT there or are they a different genre? Love all these guys, who needs a Grammy these are your peers.
February 17, 2016 @ 9:36 pm
Drive By Truckers you mean? No, they were not there. Kind of the other side of the independent roots world.
February 17, 2016 @ 8:55 pm
I hope that the whole Ameripolitan thing is still around when I am out of Veterinarian school and start making money. I also hope that there are still bad ass artists out there too, because I would fly all the way from Pennsylvania to Texas to see the awards show. Maybe though just maybe I won’t have to go all the way to Texas to see real country, because real country music will be back in Nashville by then. Just one more thing, as if I already did not have a lot of respect for Mike Wolfe, my respect for him just went through the roof.
February 17, 2016 @ 9:44 pm
Real Country Music will be in Lancaster PA on March 20 courtesy of Marty Stuart and Connie Smith.
February 17, 2016 @ 9:22 pm
Great pictures! I really enjoyed the show – and the many events around the city over the weekend too! The highlight for me last night was meeting the legendary Johnny Bush!
The Hillbilly Muslim
February 20, 2016 @ 12:35 am
It was an amazing night with many great acts getting recognized. So happy to see Rachel Brooke on the bill for outlaw female. Wish Scott Biram got an award but why do they have to make us choose between him and Whitey. So cruel lol. My only disappointment was to have Jason Boland’s red dirt win over something purely country like Eric Strickland or purely outlaw like Dallas Moore. They should really have a viewers vote and a judges vote. If someone like Eric Church was on the ballot he would win simply by having more fans. Still I have faith in Ameripolitan. Dale means well and is taking a punk rock approach in not giving a shit and putting one hell of a show. Charlie Pride winning, that was the best. Seeing Georgette sing with Dale, now that was amazing. Having Ted Branson win DJ over the more popular ones. Now that was awesome! And I always said White Horse is the true honky tonk joint of Austin. Any blue collar person can go and have a good time with the best music!! Dennis is a party rock star!! One perk of being at the award show was that Casey Miller and the Barnyard Stompers was handing out free new cds throughout the show. Best damn album of the year so far. Pure outlaw country.
February 20, 2016 @ 10:47 am
Jason Boland is purely country. He’s also labeled Red Dirt, because he’s one of the few artists who can actually claim to be one of the original Red Dirt artists from Oklahoma. But that doesn’t make him any less country than Eric Strickland or Dallas Moore. It’s an interesting point to say that if you nominate someone like Boland, it’s unfair because his fan base is bigger, but it’s not Boland’s fault that his music is finding a big following.
The question Ameripolitan needs to ask is if it’s only going to cover a “scene” of people that are in Dale Watson’s sphere of consciousness, or is it truly going to try and represent the best of the four disciplines that are awarded? If the case is the latter, where’s Sturgill Simpson? THe big two knocks on Ameripolitan are 1) The name sucks. 2) It’s a close knit “scene” surrounding Dale Watson, and that’s all it will ever be. If Ameripolitan is to grow, it needs to branch out. Bringing someone like Jason Boland in is an attempt to do that.
The other pitfall your concern brings up is how these awards are built around artists instead of albums and songs. Inherently, this is going to come down to a popularity contest. You nominate albums, and there’s a greater chance quality is awarded instead of popularity.
February 21, 2016 @ 8:14 am
and thanks a lot for the coverage.
February 26, 2020 @ 3:55 pm
I attended the last 3 amerpolitan award shows and stayed around town 4 days to enjoy the festivities. Last year and the year before were awesome and fun and the venues were great. This year, they crammed all the entertainment into Dale’s bar, which was way way to small to hold the crowds. it was too crowded, the lines were long, and I did not have any fun this year. IT was disorganized and the people who run Dale’s new bar, the Hernando’s Hideaway, oversold all events, and even paying ticket buyers did not get to attend the show. therre were a lot of pissed of people who just got tired of waiting in line in the rain and just left. No, they did not get their money back. Using Dale’s newly purchased bar as the base for this weekend was a terrible idea. Many folks I know said that they would NOT be going next year if they try to cram it all into the same bar. Terrible idea.
February 26, 2020 @ 5:50 pm
I’m seeing numerous people complaining about not being able to get into Hernando’s, and I think this is important feedback to share with the Ameripolitan community. I agree, for the biggest events, you want everyone to be able to participate, at least within reason. At the least, you should have alternative programming available for those who can’t get in. I believe they were trying that with the Travelodge performances, but I’m not sure how that worked out. I think it’s also important to understand this is all grassroots, which means there’s going to be some bumps and mistakes. It’s important those mistakes are acknowledged to try to solve them for the next year. But this isn’t LiveNation. Ameripolitan has always been sort of a learn-as-you-go thing. Hopefully next year some of the kinks are ironed out.