There are 2 days until the weirdest Christmas on record, the votes have been counted and there are no legal challenges we’re aware of (yet) – so we can now announce the results of this year’s Americana UK Readers Poll for 2020. Following on from your suggestions, we ditched the television and movie categories this year so we could include some new categories (we didn’t want to wear your typing fingers out) which focus on UK and breakthrough talent. So without further much ado about nothing like a dame as Count Arthur would say, here we go..
Best UK Act of 2020 – Winner: Robert Vincent
Runners up: Emily Barker, Our Man in the Field, The Hanging Stars, Dean Owens
A well deserved win for Liverpool based Robert Vincent (which warms the cockles of our Scouse heart) who since winning the AMAUK Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award back in 2016 has gone from strength to strength. Rob told us: “I am beyond happy to be recognised as Best UK act of 2020 by Americana UK readers, especially in such a tough year for myself and my fellow musician friends. A true honour to be recognised by one of the leading lights of the Americana genre, that does so much for the musicians within it.” Oh shucks Rob, we love you too.
Best international act of 2020 – Winner: Courtney Marie Andrews
Runners up: Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell, American Aquarium
Arizona born Courtney Marie Andrew is a regular fixture in Americana UK’s end of year polls and this year she beats off competition from an all male runners-up list to win our Best International Act of 2020 category. Courtney told AUK: “Thank you. I couldn’t do it without you. I cannot wait until it’s safe for us all to be together again.” Which given who we’ve got in charge right now could be some time Courtney.
Breakthrough act of 2020 – Winner: Our Man in the Field
Runners up: Emma Swift, Katie Pruitt.
Our Man in the Field is otherwise known as singer-songwriter Alexander Ellis, and his debut album released earlier this year is as strong a record as you’re likely to hear in 2020, with layers of pedal steel washing over some crazily gorgeous melodies. Alex told us: “What an amazing and unexpected honour! I’d like to give huge thank you Americana UK for all their support and kind words for our songs and for helping us reach a much wider audience than we thought possible (even sending someone to one of our shows in Sweden!), it has meant a great deal. I can’t thank that audience enough for their incredible support, listening to the songs, coming to shows, buying our record and generally giving us a chance. In what has been a year of unusual challenges we owe a great debt to some very important people including Håkan Olsson, Björn Pettersson and everyone at Rootsy for believing in the record and welcoming us into their amazing community, Jeremy Verrall from At The Helm for tirelessly making sure it got heard by the right ears and finally Chris Howard and everyone at The Rattle for their unrelenting support and belief in what we do and how we do it.” Thanks to Fiona over in Sweden where gigging was still allowed at least back in October – you are our new tipster. Any thoughts on the 2.15 at Cheltenham?
Best UK album of 2020 – Winner: Rob Vincent ‘In This Town You’re Owned’ (Thirty Tigers)
Runners up: Our Man in the Field ‘In the Company of Strangers’ (Rocksnob) Emily Barker ‘A Dark Murmuration Of Words'(Thirty Tigers)
Not content with just the best UK artist category, Robert Vincent also takes our best UK album. As our writer Jim Finnie described it, “from the moment the first notes of the opening track descend upon your eardrums, to the fade-out on the final track, the quality of the songwriting, the performance and the production never drops beneath a level that can only be described as outstanding.” Robert told us: “Who would’ve thought that after unwittingly releasing an album into an International Pandemic that it would receive best UK Album of 2020. I am absolutely blown away by this. So, thank you Americana UK and thanks to your readers who voted for me, I think I’m going to order another Turkey!” So long as you don’t mind it without broccoli Rob.
Best international album of 2020 – Winner: Courtney Marie Andrew ‘Old Flowers’ (Loose)
Runners up: American Aquarium, Emma Swift
In our review, AUK writer Harry Hogan described Courtney Marie Andrew’s ‘Old Flowers’ album as “achingly beautiful, funny, sad, hopeful, a breakup album for the ages”, noting that as often as she is compared to the likes of Linda Ronstadt and Joni Mitchell, these comparisons don’t tell the whole story. Courtney told us: “I am so grateful that this album resonates with people. Thank you for showering it with love, because it was made with love.”
Best radio show of 2020 – Winner: Mike Ritchie’s Radio Show (Celtic Music Radio)
Runners up: Bob Harris Country Show (BBC Radio 2), Richard Leader’s American Pie (107 Meridian)
There has only been one occasion in the past when the lovely Bob Harris didn’t win our best radio show category, and that year he was pipped to the post by the also lovely Mike Ritchie who hosts his regular americana show on Celtic FM. Well this year Mike has done it again. He told us: “This is great news and a great surprise. Winning once was marvellous but topping the AUK reader’s poll for a second time feels truly extra special. My huge thanks go to the music lovers who listen to the show on Sunday afternoons and support me all year long, and to everyone who voted for me. This is such an accolade for the station, so my heartfelt thanks go to my fellow volunteers at Celtic Music Radio for everything they do to help me and for their friendship. And thanks to all the talented musicians and their support teams who send me such great music to play.” Mike like Bob has always been a great supporter of Americana UK – long may you continue broadcasting Mike!
Hero of 2020: Winner – Marcus Rashford
Runners up: NHS staff, Dolly Parton, Joe Biden
Our hero of the year award doesn’t have much to do with the world of music but in a year where arguably the Tories have never had so much contempt for the people they were elected to represent (and there’s been a lot of competition over the last decade – oh and if you voted for them, you were warned..), it’s heartening to see someone like Rashford recognised for his campaigning around child poverty. Although don’t forget as Jacob Rees Mogg noted, food banks are “rather uplifting”.
Villian of 2020: Winner – Donald Trump
Runners up: Boris Johnson, Covid, Dominic Cummings.
Thanks God Boris Johnson is still around or you’d have no one to vote for next year. Donald John Trump completes his haul of villain of the year for the fourth year on the trot. He retires into the sunset having made the world a much happier place, for Nazis and comedians at least.
Thanks for voting everyone, and congratulations to Adam Wilson who wins some promos we can’t shift. Oj Adam, they’re great.
Lovely to see Courtney getting her dues. She just goes from strength to strength.
Hero of the year Marcus Rashford – are you being serious ? Surely this should go to someone at the NHS where they work for a pittance compared with Mr Rashford’s earnings – I’d like see him to encourage his mates to donate a weeks salary to the NHS – say 50 players x £100k ! He’s done a good job but a hero?