BUDDY MILLER TAKES TOP PRIZE PLUS LOTS MORE AT AMERICANA MUSIC AWARDS
No one could have guessed when Buddy Miller took the stage of the Ryman Auditorium last night, with Jim Lauderdale, at the beginning of the Americana Music Awards that he would practically sweep the prizes along with his wife, Julie. Lauderdale, dressed in a black western style suit with white piping hosted the show and Miller was at his side as band leader.
The program was broadcast live on Sirius, BBC, Voice of America and, locally in Nashville, on WSM, the radio home of the Grand Old Opry since the 1920’s. Former Opry members like Hank Williams were mentioned with reverence throughout the evening by many of the nominees and recipients.
Scores of stellar performances were featured including Asleep At The Wheel, 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award winner-Rodney Crowell-who announced that this date would have been the 86th birthday of Hank Williams, and Jerry Douglas, the dobro legend, played a moving medley of songs that culminated with The Allman Brothers’ instrumental, “Little Martha”.
John Prine and Nanci Griffith were on hand to present the Lifetime Achievement Award For Producer to their pal, guru and producer, Jim Rooney. Prine told the crowd that when he first met Rooney, he turned to his drummer and said, “I think I just met Huckleberry Finn.” After a lengthy speech describing his journey from a Boston folk musician to his present status, Mr. Rooney announced that Prine and Griffith would sing a poignant version of Mr. Prine’s “Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness”; that they did with the legendary producer joining in on the last chorus.
Best New Emerging Artist nod went to Justin Townes Earle, who clad in wine-red, crushed velour tuxedo blew the crowd away with his gritty, personal song, “My Mama’s Eyes”. Earle, son of Americana icon, Steve Earle, began the song with the lyric, “I am my father’s son…I’ve never known when to shut up…We don’t see eye to eye…..” He then dedicated the song and award to his mother.
But Buddy Miller was the big winner.
He and Julie took home Duo Of The Year, Album Of The Year for “Written In Chalk”, The Songwriter’s Award and, for himself alone, Performer Of The Year. After receiving the last prize, he remarked that it must be a sympathy vote, referring to his grave health problems over the last year.
John Fogerty stole the show with his new version of Rick Nelson’s, “Garden Party” and his own, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain”, popularized by his band Creedence Clearwater Revival.
This was the tenth anniversary of the AMA and the eighth anniversary of the awards program.