As you can probably imagine, dear regular reader, there is little in this world that Americana UK enjoys more than a party – a bowl of jelly and cream and a lukewarm Vimto is a second heaven to such as us. It’s no surprise then that a dark November evening found us at Omerea for the launch party for the Americana Music Association UK’s Awards – which offered not only the opportunity to rub shoulders with the great and the good – Amythyst Kiah, Danny Wilson, Lady Nade, Devin Tuel and Erin Rae could all be spotted at various times in the crowd – but also some fine sets as a taster for the Americana Fest showcases.
AMAUK’s Stevie Smith introduced the evening with a promise of a full Americana Fest next year – and you’ll need the full week to take advantage of all that’ll be on offer with everything now fully located in Hackney and as well as the Awards show there’ll be a full two-evenings of musical showcases. It’d be wrong to single out for special attention any of the 65 artists so far announced – but, what the heck, that list includes The Sadies, Northern Belle, Native Harrow, Julian Taylor, Darling West, Madison Violet, Suzie Ungerleider, Malin Pettersen, Whitehorse (and here’s hoping the Canada showcase doesn’t clash with the Scandicana showcase), as well as other UK favourites like Ida Mae, Ferris & Sylvester, and Treetop Flyers. Exciting times ahead. There was also a reading of the Americana Fest sponsors – which now includes, after ten years of existence of AMAUK, an Arts Council grant. The ENO’s loss is Americana’s gain.
The award nominations and special award recipients were announced by Erin Rae and Amythyst Kiah after a one-song solo performance by Erin Rae with a heart-meltingly beautiful ‘Lighten Up‘. All the nominations and awards are listed below.
With the serious business taken care of there was time for two short sets from Native Harrow and Treetop Flyers. Native Harrow concentrated on music from their new album, the wonderful ‘Old Kind of Magic’ which brings a Laurel Canyon vibe to music that also feels touched by English folk of the bucolic kind. It’s a magical performance. We’ve noted before that electric guitarist Stephen Harms seems more than happy to leave the lead spot to Devin Tuel, on this night he at first disappeared completely in swirls of smoke. The combination of delicate electric guitar and acoustic rhythm is incredibly pleasing, and Devin Tuel’s vocals are so emotional in bringing every song to life as she sings at times of creating a new self, of anchoring herself in a home filled with rugs, of dreams filled with love and visions of the desert and, on ‘Used to be Free‘, picks up Crosby’s mantle of writing “the weird shit” with its pleas to go back to a simpler, free-er, time of living. Just plain wonderful and mesmerising.
The final set of the evening was a typically energetic performance from Treetop Flyers, with a blend of Urbanised Country Rock which emphasises soulful vocals and has saxophone very much to the fore – a blend which would have made them Kings of Pub Rock in an earlier era. Their set also drew on their most recent album ‘Old Habits‘, starting with the title track and following up with the groove of ‘Castlewood Road‘. ‘River‘ and ‘Golden Hour‘ pulled the pace back a little, but there was no denying the power of closer ‘Cool Your Jets‘ which came on with full rock star enthusiasm and a light show to match. These two Loose Music artists more than set the scene for next year – it’s going to be just great. Man.
And the Award Nominations are….
UK Album of the Year
Birds That Flew and Ships That Sailed by Passenger (Produced by Mike Rosenberg and Chris Vallejo)
Blue Hours by Bear’s Den (Produced by Ian Grimble)
Shining In The Half Light by Elles Bailey (Produced by Dan Weller)
Superhuman by Ferris and Sylvester (Produced by Ryan Hadlock and Michael Rendall)
International Album of the Year
In These Silent Days by Brandi Carlile (produced by Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings)
Pohorylle by Margo Cilker (produced by Sera Cahoone)
Raise The Roof by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (produced by T Bone Burnett)
The Man From Waco by Charley Crockett (produced by Bruce Robison)
UK Song of the Year
Car Crash by Hannah White (Written by Hannah White)
Grace by Marcus Mumford (Written by Blake Mills and Marcus Mumford)
Make It Romantic by Simeon Hammond Dallas (Written by Simeon Hammond Dallas)
The Right Place by Danny George Wilson (written by Danny Wilson)
International Song of the Year
I Don’t Really Care for You by CMAT (Written by Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson)
Something in the Orange by Zach Bryan (Written by Zachary Lane Bryan)
Take It Like A Man by Amanda Shires (Written by Amanda Shires and Lawrence Rothman)
You’re Not Alone by Allison Russell feat. Brandi Carlile (Written by Allison Russell)
UK Artist of the Year
Ferris and Sylvester
International Artist of the Year
The Dead South
UK Instrumentalist of the Year
UK Live Act of the Year
Beans On Toast
Ferris & Sylvester
Holy Moly & The Crackers
The Heavy, Heavy
And the Special Awards go to…
Lifetime Achievement Award
Selected by the board members, AMAUK’s highest honour is awarded to a UK artist, duo or group in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the Americana genre over the span of their career and life in music. The 2023 recipient will be Mike Scott of The Waterboys
International Lifetime Achievement Award
Selected by the board members, AMAUK’s highest honour is awarded to an international artist, duo or group in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the Americana genre over the span of their career and life in music. The 2023 recipient will be Judy Collins.
International Trailblazer Award
Selected by the board members, this special award celebrates a UK artist, duo or group that has taken an exceptional path, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps in developing the Americana genre. The 2023 recipient will be Nickel Creek
Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award
Selected by Bob Harris OBE, this special award celebrates the breakthrough artist, duo or group that has particularly impressed the legendary music broadcaster throughout the year. The 2023 recipient will be The Hanging Stars
Best Selling Americana Album
AMA-UK works with The Official Charts Company to create the UK Americana Album Chart. This Award is given to the best-selling Americana Album by a UK Artist. The 2023 recipient will be announced in January.
Grass Roots Award
Selected by the board members, this special award celebrates the sometimes-un-sung heroes of the UK Americana scene. It is presented to individuals working in the industry (in a capacity other than as artists) who have made outstanding efforts to support Americana music from the grass roots up. The 2023 recipient is Ralph McLean, BBC Radio Ulster
Songwriter Legacy Award
This award celebrates the life and work of legendary songwriters who the board want to recognise for their writing and important contribution in shaping this genre to what it is today. The 2023 recipient is: Loretta Lynn.
It sounds like a great night was had by one and all Jonathan, but regrettably I had to choose between that and Peter Frampton’s farewell gig at the Royal Albert Hall. However, roll on late January 2023 then.