Memphis, Tennessee was overrun this weekend with throwback hillbillies, Outlaw roughnecks, and Rockabilly Daddy-O’s/Susie Q’s as part of Dale Watson’s 6th Annual Ameripolitan shindig and awards show. With showcases transpiring starting Friday in various Memphis venues, the event culminated in the 6th Annual Ameripolitan Awards at the Guesthouse at Graceland in Memphis within walking distance of the Elvis mansion on Monday night, 2-25.
After a somewhat disjointed 2018 awards presentation in its first year in Memphis, the 2019 awards were right back on track, with smooth production, great performances, an amazing house band, and lots of love and support for country and roots music that may otherwise not be recognized.
Big winners included familiar names like Mike and the Moonpies for Outlaw Group, Whitney Rose for Honky Tonk Female, and Ray Wylie Hubbard for Outlaw Male. But part of the fun of Ameripolitan is the discovery aspect of the awards, and some faces that we may be seeing in the country and roots world for years to come won big. This included Jesse Daniel, who whenever anyone asks who is the next up-and-comer to look out for, the first suggestion from Saving Country Music is Jesse Daniel. The stunning Tammi Savoy also walked away with a much-deserved award for Rockabilly Female.
Performers on the night included James Hand, retiring Texas music legend Gary P. Nunn playing “What I Like About Texas,” Ray Wylie Hubbard performing “Snake Farm,” Wayne Hancock playing one of his signature pot songs, The Reeves Brothers, and Billy Matta and Jim Heath of The Reverend Horton Heat closing out the night with an Elvis Presley tune. Two performers who were scheduled to play—Unknown Hinson and Roger Alan Wade—did not make it. Keeper of the Key winner Larry Collins could also not be there to accept his award, with his family giving acceptance speeches in his stead. Mike and the Moonpies and Deke Dickerson were also not there to accept their awards due to touring conflicts.
The best acceptace speech was arguably given by Summer Dean, who said she never knew what kind of music that she made until she heard of Ameripolitan, and compared herself to the bee in the famous 90’s Blind Melon video. DJ of the Year Woody Adkins also had some great words. “I’ve been rehearsing this speech for six years,” he said, after Dale Watson called him the Susan Lucci of the Ameripolitan Awards.
There were a couple of hiccups before the awards, like a Cindy Walker tribute that occurred at a cafe close to Graceland was moved two hours earlier than the originally-posted time, and word did not trickle down to some, including to Saving Country Music who unfortunately missed what by all accounts was a very cool event. The “B Side” At Minglewood Hall used on Sunday could have done with a bit better lighting and sound.
But overall, the 2019 Ameripolitan Awards and gathering felt like a year of sustainable growth, a retrenching of the quality of the awards presentation itself, and a lot of good times and good music for all involved. You can stream the entire ceremony at the very bottom.
Apologies to artists not photographed or mentioned.
- Honky Tonk Female: Whitney Rose
- Honky Tonk Male: Jesse Daniel
- Honky Tonk Group: Two Tons of Steel
- Outlaw Female: Summer Dean
- Outlaw Male: Ray Wylie Hubbard
- Outlaw Group: Mike and the Moonpies
- Western Swing Female: Grace Adele (of Farmer and Adele)
- Western Swing Male: Justin Trevino
- Western Swing Group: Big Cedar Fever
- Rockabilly Female: Tammi Savoy
- Rockabilly Male: Jimmy Dale (Richardson)
- Rockabilly Group – The Delta Bombers
- Keeper of the Key Awards- Larry Collins
- Ralph Mooney Musician of the Year – Deke Dickerson
- Venue of the Year – Robert’s Western World
- Festival of the Year – Rockin’ Race – Malaga, Spain
- DJ of the Year – Woody Adkins KOPN, Columbia, Missouri