The 11th annual Americana Music Association descended upon the Music City, taking over the majority of the music clubs and holding down shop at the downtown Sheraton Hotel in early September.Â This yearly pilgrimage to Nashville could easily be summarized as a one-stop shop for all things Americana.Â Not only is it a great event for music fans, it also proves invaluable to musicians, radio stations, management companies and truly anyone looking to make the music industry a better place.
Probably the most notable part of the conference and music festival is the AMA Awards Show that takes place at the historic Ryman Auditorium.Â Every year the bill is packed with great performances, augmented by the presentation of awards to best new artists, songs and duo/band of the year, plus the recognition of lifetime achievements; the list includes iconic recipients like Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Steve Earle and many others.Â This year the bar seemed to be raised with special guest presenters like Grace Potter, Lucinda Williams, Jack White and the Courtyard Hounds.
Songwriting Lifetime achievement award winner John Mellencamp performed at the Awards show, and was presented the award by fellow performer Rosanne Cash.Greg Leisz was bestowed the honor of Lifetime Achievement as an instrumentalist, and honored by special guest presenter Sam Bush.Â Other Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to Luke Lewis of Lost Highway Records for his accomplishments as an executive. Lastly, producer/engineer Brian Ahern was honored for his lifetime achievements by presenter Emmylou Harris for his work with various artists including Harris, Marty Robbins, Rodney Crowell, Billy Joe Shaver and countless others.Â Â Â Â
Jack White may have presented the most interesting Lifetime Achievement Award.Â Jack has been working on a new album with the undisputed Queen of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson, and he seemed as though presenting the honor of the Performance Award to Queen Jackson was as much an honor for him as the award was for her.Â Her performance that followed was most definitely one of the night’s highlights.
Alongside the fiery performance by Wanda Jackson attendees were treated to music by Sarah Jaroz, Corb Lund, Joe Pug, Emmylou Harris featuring Rodney Crowell, Jim Lauderdale, The Avett Brothers, Ryan Bingham, Ray Willie Hubbard and Minton Sparks. One of the best-received performances was delievered by surprise crowd favorites the Carolina Chocolate Drops.Â Â
As if all of the evening’s music was not enough, attendees were treated to a closing set by Robert Plant’s newest project, The Band of Joy.Â This is an amazing band comprised of top-notch players including Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott, Patti Griffin, Byron House and drummer Marco Giovino.
Not to be outdone by the Awards Show, the daytime events included many exciting panel discussions, movie premieres and listening sessions.Â Throughout the four-day conference, artists could get schooled on “The Artists and Producer Relationship” with artists and producers like Hayes Carll and Brad Jones, Or “On the Road Again; Effective ways to book your band and Advance in this competitive market,” a session that could most likely prove useful to artists and management even outside of the Americana genre.Â Â Â
Journalist and fans of rock and roll history could sit in on a discussion between iconic music journalist David Fricke of Rolling Stone Magazine and artist/journalist Sid Griffin at the Country Music Hall of Fame, or get a glimpse at the new Marshall Chapman book titled “They Came to Nashville.”Â Â Then there was the screening of Drive-By Truckers film “The Secret to a Happy Ending” featuring a Q and A session with director Barr Weissman.Â If you think this is a lot to take in, this only touched the tip of the iceberg of events you could fill your day with.Â Â
Probably the part of the conference most attended, in part thanks to the AMA’s outreach to the community and making available of separate cheaper armband purchases, would be the nightly showcases.Â The bill included an almost unheard of chance to see legendary songwriter Guy Clark at the intimate Station Inn, a recreation of Exile on Main Street with Don Was, Grace Potter, Mike Farris and original album players Bobby Keys and Al Perkins, The Infamous Stringdusters, Railroad Earth, and Todd Snider’s Rock â€˜n Roll Revue were just a few of the amazing showcases that went down all over town.
Every year this event gets better, and every year it brings good music to Nashville, providing the perfect reason for anyone who loves music to visit the Music City.
Click the thumbnail to view Brad Hodge‘s Shots from the Americana Music Association Fest & Conference!