Robert Plant’s Band of Joy picked up album of the year honors, and Buddy Miller earned an Artist of the Year nod, during the Americana Music Association’s 10th Annual Honors and Awards tonight at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium.
The event celebrated a year of the best in roots music. It opened with a moving tribute to the late John Hartford, represented by an unaccompanied banjo and bolo hat side stage, followed by Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas and Don Was performing “I’ll Fly Away” in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the O’ Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
Jim Lauderdale served again as master of ceremonies, his ninth in-a-row, while Miller led an all-star house band comprised of famed record producer Don Was on bass, Cody and Luther Dickinson on drums, guitars and various other instruments, Greg Leisz on steel guitar and John Deaderick on keys. Adding harmonies were The McCrary Sisters: Ann, Regina and Alfreda.
It was a big night for Miller, winning not only the Artist of the Year Award, but adding another Instrumentalist of the Year Award to his treasure chest of Americana trophies, now totaling twelve. Raul Malo and Carrie Rodriguez handed him the award. Marshall Chapman presented him with the Artist of the Year.
The 2009 New/Emerging Artist Justin Townes Earle cemented his place as one of Americana Music’s heirs apparent by picking up Song of the Year for “Harlem River Blues.” John Oates and Mindy Smith presented.
The Avett Brothers walked away with another Duo/Group of the Year win, their third after winning in 2007 and 2010 and fourth overall, while Mumford and Sons were crowned New/Emerging Artist of the Year. Mark Olsen and Gary Louris of The Jayhawks presented the Duo/Group Award; The Greencards, winners in 2006, presented New/Emerging Artist.
Other award highlights of the night included a tearful Lucinda Williams accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting from record executive Luke Lewis, who last year earned the Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive. She followed it with a haunting performance of “Blessed.”
Joining Williams in the Lifetime Achievement categories, the legendary Gregg Allman received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Performance. Allman is one of the architects of Southern Rock and member of the Allman Brothers Band. Keb Mo handled the presenting honors.
Alison Krauss gave the Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist to Jerry Douglas, equally revered for his solo work, session playing, and as a longtime member of Krauss’ Union Station.
R&B Legend Candi Staton presented the Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement for Executive to Rick Hall, whose groundbreaking production work at FAME Studios created the Muscle Shoals sound, a unique style that crossed musical formats. Afterward, she took to the Ryman stage to sing her hit “Heart On A String.”
Bob Harris crossed the pond to accept his Trailblazer Award from Emmylou Harris. The celebrated radio host and journalist works as a tireless advocate for exceptional artistry, playing a pivotal role in exposing listeners to rising talent, no matter the genre.
The annual Americana Award Show was peppered with standout performances, from Amos Lee (“Cup of Sorrow”), Elizabeth Cook (“El Camino”), Earle (“Harlem River Blues”), Jessica Lea Mayfield (“For Today”), Hayes Carll (“KMAG YOYO”), The Secret Sisters (“Why Don’t You Love Me?”), Miller (“Gasoline and Matches”), The Civil Wars (“Barton Hollow”), The Avett Brothers (“The Once and Future Carpenter”) and Plant (“Monkey”).
The event was broadcast live throughout Middle Tennessee on Nashville Public Television (NPT). An abridged version will be broadcast on PBS stations nationwide on November 19th (check local listings) as a special episode of Austin City Limits Presents.
2011 Americana Honors and Awards recipients
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Band Of Joy, ROBERT PLANT
ARTIST OF THE YEAR: BUDDY MILLER
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR: BUDDY MILLER
NEW / EMERGING ARTIST: MUMFORD AND SONS
SONG OF THE YEAR: “Harlem River Blues” by JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE
DUO / GROUP OF THE YEAR: THE AVETT BROTHERS
Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriter: LUCINDA WILLIAMS
Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance: GREGG ALLMAN
Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist: JERRY DOUGLAS
Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive: RICK HALL
Trailblazer Award: BOB HARRIS