Film makers want very much for the general public to buy in to the magic of movies. You can count Ryan Bingham among those who believe in celluloid’s power.
After sharing a Golden Globe and an Oscar Award for Best Song with T Bone Burnett for writing the “The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart),” Ryan took home two trophies — Song and Artist of the Year — Thursday during the ninth annual Americana Music Association Honors & Awards in Nashville.
The Americana nods only add to the lists in which Ryan finds himself. The Song of the Year Oscar put him in the company of such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Henry Mancini and Irving Berlin — all of whom have won the Film Academy’s Best Song prize at least once. Ryan’s new album, Junky Star, made its chart debut this week, landing at No. 2 on the Billboard Country Albums list. And the Americana Artist of the Year trophy put him on yet another list among such previous winners as Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Neil Young and Jim Lauderdale, who hosted Thursday’s show.
“[All the people] on the list are people I’ve looked up to and admired,” Ryan said. “So it feels kind of strange accepting this award.”
Rosanne Cash added her own list to the evening. The List, a selection of cover songs from her father’s 1973 selection of 100 country songs every aspiring artist ought to know, took home Album of the Year. The Ryman Auditorium provided a perfect setting for the honor — Rosanne accepted the trophy on the same stage where Johnny made his Grand Ole Opry debut in 1956, when she was just 13 months old.
“This was such an emotional project for me,” Rosanne said. And she indeed choked up when she invoked the memory of the Man in Black.
Hayes Carll took New/Emerging Artist of the Year, the Avett Brothers won Duo/Group and Buddy Miller — the 2009 Artist of the Year — claimed the Instrumentalist title. Buddy also led the house band, which included Greg Leisz, who won one of the night’s Lifetime Achievement Awards. Lifetime honors were also doled out to rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson, singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, producer Brian Ahern and Lost Highway Records founder Luke Lewis.
The Americana genre, which was recognized for the first time this year with a Grammy category, is a loose, catch-all idiom that embraces artists who create new music built on various American roots styles. Pieces of blues, country, folk, rock and soul were all weaved into the night’s performances, which included appearances by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rodney Crowell, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sarah Jarosz and — in an eight-song, post-awards set — Robert Plant.
The opening number was a particular highlight as Sam Bush, Will Kimbrough, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Jim Lauderdale, Buddy Miller and Don Was all took part in a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice.”
The ninth awards show is just one portion of the 11th annual Americana Conference, which runs through Saturday. Awards presenter Mary Chapin Carpenter took part in the conference’s keynote, and the showcase lineup includes such acts as Guy Clark, the SteelDrivers, Raul Malo, Shelby Lynne and Tony Joe White.
Oh, and Dierks Bentley was a late showcase addition, set to play music from his Americana-tinged album Up On The Ridge on Friday. Just like with Ryan Bingham, you can add Dierks to a list…