Americana honors its own

Allison Krauss and Robert Plant

Allison Krauss and Robert Plant

The Americana Music Association held it’s awards ceremony Thursday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and strange-but-beautiful bedfellows Robert Plant and Allison Krauss were the big winners, taking home the Album and Duo/Group of the Year awards.

Peter Cooper — a former co-worker of mine, a talented musician and songwriter in his own right and the music writer for the Nashville Tennessean newspaper — wrote about the ceremony here.

Levon Helm, formerly of The Band, Buddy Miller, Joan Baez, John Hiatt and Nanci Griffith were among others honored, and Jerry Garcia was honored posthumously.

Helm is a treasure. He’s returned from cancer to make a great album. While Robbie Robertson may have written the songs, it’s Helm’s voice that made The Band great with songs like “The Weight” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” And he did a hell of a job as Loretta Lynn’s daddy in “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

Everyone has heard a John Hiatt song, whether they realize it or not: Bonnie Raitt’s “Thing Called Love,” B.B. King and Eric Clapton’s “Riding With the King,” Roseanne Cash’s “The Way We Make a Broken Heart” are a few of his songs others have recorded.

Americana music, which isn’t really a genre because it encompasses so many styles … blues, rock, country, folk, bluegrass … continues to thrive despite virtually no radio airplay at all.

And I’m glad, because if i was forced to listen to most of the crap on the corporate commercial radio now, I’d likely become one of those old white dudes listening to other old angry white dudes talking on the radio all the time.

And we’ve already got way too many of those, especially here in South Carolina.

The Americana Music Associations’s 2008 honors and awards

Album of the year: Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Raising Sand
Artist of the year: Levon Helm
Duo/Group of the year: Alison Krauss and Robert Plant
Instrumentalist of the year: Buddy Miller
New emerging artist of the year: Mike Farris
Song of the year: “She Left Me For Jesus,” written by Hayes Carll and Brian Keane, and performed by Hayes Carll
“Spirit of Americana” Free Speech In Music: Joan Baez
Lifetime Achievement/Songwriting: John Hiatt
Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement/Executive: Terry Lickona
Lifetime Achievement/Performance: Jason and the Scorchers
President’s Award: Jerry Garcia
Lifetime Achievement/Instrumentalist: Larry Campbell
Trailblazer: Nanci Griffith
Lifetime Achievement/Producer/Engineer: Tony Brown

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