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Billy Strings, Brandi Carlyle, Allyson Russell, Sierra Ferrell, and The War & Treaty are all walking away with major awards at the 2022 Americana Music Awards held Wednesday night, September 14 at the Ryman Auditorium. There were also a few surprises, some excellent performances and an unannounced, but very sweet tribute to Luke Bell.
Billy Strings was not on hand to accept his Artist of the Year award. He is currently on the Outlaw Tour with Willie Nelson. But otherwise, all the winners were on site, and they were also part of the performing lineup, backed up by an excellent house band led by Buddy Miller, with Don on bass, Brady Blades on drums, Larry Campbell on guitar and violin, a chorus from the great McCray Sisters and others. .
It started with a rocking rendition of Waylon Jennings’ famously reworked Neil Young song, “Are You Ready for the Country,” performed by Phosphorescent aka Matthew Hawke. The ever-entertaining Milk Carton Kids spoke first from the podium.
“Even though he’s not here and nominated for anything, Jason Isbell will probably win an award tonight,” They joked. Isbell was actually nominated for Artist of the Year, but did not win.
Performers included Neil Francis, James McMurtry playing his Song of the Year nominee “Canola Fields”, Morgan Wade, now of major label-sign The War & Treaty who won Duo/Group of the Year, Adia Victoria, Alison Russell, Brandy Carlyle, and the recent Strokes. Despite this, Lucinda Williams came out and performed “Can’t Let Go”. Car wheels on a gravel road Released yesterday.
In Americana, Artist of the Year is not the biggest award. That’s reserved for album of the year, which went to Montreal native Alison Russell for her album outside child. Brandi Carlile won Song of the Year for “Right on Time.” And Sierra Ferrell joins a very impressive list of previous winners in the Emerging Artist of the Year category, speaking to her popularity within the independent music world.
Lifetime Achievement Awards were also given out, with legendary Nashville gospel quintet The Fairfield Four receiving the Legacy of Americana Award, Brandi Carlile presenting the Spirit of Americana Award to The Indigo Girls, with a touching speech about growing up at a time when girls were a punch line in popular culture e.g. They were a folk duo that took folk music to the top of the popular music charts.
Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams was also honored with the President’s Award, legendary music producer Garth Fundis accepted the award on behalf of Don’s family, and Lucas Nelson sang “Lord I Hope This Is Good” for the tribute.
Chris Isaak received a Lifetime Achievement Award for the performance. “It’s got my name on it, but it’s my band,” Isaac said humbly after close friend Lyle Lovett paid tribute to Isaac. They then play a hilarious song together about giving each other covid, followed by a great rendition of Chris Isaak’s “Nobody’s Crying.” Later in the show, Lyle Lovett came out to perform “Willin’,” a tribute to Little Foot.
Yes, there was a lot of respect. The Americana Music Awards are the best. Robert Plant also took the stage to present Buddy Miller with an honorary award. “I come from the land of ice and snow…” joked Plant, before delivering a touching tribute to the Americana house band leader and American music legend.
But perhaps the most touching tribute was unannounced and unexpected. Local artist Luke Bell Died a few weeks agoAnd JP Harris flew to Nashville to do the honors while on tour. “His genius was immeasurable, his gall incomparable,” JP said, “Luke never got the chance to sing this song from this stage like he should have.”
Then JP Harris performed Luke Bell’s “The Bullfighter” from the Mother Church stage. JP Harris was a friend and mentor to Luke Bell and was his boss on numerous construction jobs.
Of course, whenever anyone broaches American content, the biggest question always comes, what is it? As Brandi Carlile said while honoring the Indigo Girls, “Is it a genre? Is it a philosophy? Is it country music for liberals? I just know it’s me.”
This year there were a few empty seats at the top of the pews, where earlier award tickets were hard to come by. And by the time the presentation ended after 10:00 p.m., the Ryman was probably 2/3 full. People can also stream it on The Circle Network, and the entire presentation will be edited into one television special at a time.
The McCrary Sisters helped close the show with an incredible performance of “Amazing Grace” arranged by “The House of the Rising Sun.” Then most of the performers take the stage to “I’ll take you there.”
2022 American Music Awards Winners
Album of the year
Brandy Carlyle – On this silent day
Alison Russell- outside child – winner
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – raise the roof
Adia Victoria- A Southern Gothic
Iola – stand up for me
Artist of the year
Billy Strings – winner
Duo/Group of the Year
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
War and Treaty- winner
Best song of the year
James McMurtry – “Canola Fields”
Yola – “Diamond Studded Shoes”
Sturgill Simpson – “Juanita”
Alison Russell – “Persephone”
Brandy Carlyle – “At the Right Time” – winner
Emerging Artist of the Year
Sierra Ferrell – winner
Instrumentalist of the Year
Larisa Maestro – winner
All photos by Kyle “Trigger” Koroneos
Full video (while it lasts):