Earlier tonight, the trophies were doled out in Nashville for the 2012 Americana Music Association Awards and Honors. Winners included the Civil Wars, Gillian Welch and, naturally, Alabama Shakes -- the complete list is below.
What struck us about the artists honored was how thoroughly they have been represented in St. Louis in the past year or so. Not just because they played shows (though almost every winner has), but because they were responsible for some of the most beloved, memorable music experiences in our city recently -- who will soon forget Welch and David Rawlings' power-outage seance at the Pageant?
This year's winners have been featured prominently in this space as well, in the form of a series of interviews and reviews. Some of our favorite excerpts (including Isbell's thoughts on this very Awards ceremony) follow:
Americana Honors & Awards Winners 2012
Album of the Year: "This One's for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark"
Song of the Year: "Alabama Pines," written by Jason Isbell and performed by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Michael Dauphin Alabama is a place that has been deeply ingrained in your songwriting. Is it weird to leave that area?
Jason Isbell: I'll only be a couple hours away. I honestly don't think it's a whole lot different here and there. I try to keep a sense of place when I'm writing, and I'm sure I'll continue that. Nobody wants to live in the same place their entire life. Well, I guess some people do. But I don't.
Congrats on the four Americana Music Awards nominations. Were you surprised by that recognition?
Yeah, it was a surprise. I was really happy about it and I'm glad that folks in that world were paying attention to what we're doing. Because I do feel like that's where most of the best music is coming from these days. It's nice to have a lot of friends from all over in one place for the evening. We're not the kind of community that pats itself on the back compared to popular music or Hollywood. I've been to this awards show in the past and it's a laid back evening. Nobody really takes it too seriously.
Artist of the Year: Gillian Welch
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings at the Pageant, 9/3/11: Review and Setlist When the mechanics of a rock & roll concert get thrown out of whack -- when the lights flicker, when the bar service halts, when the A/C sputters off -- you become grateful that the night's performers are not at all beholden to the mechanics of a rock & roll show. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings' masterful performance in front of a packed Pageant crowd was never really in threat of being scuttled by the power surges, which came after the early-evening storm that knocked out power to half of the Loop. Had push come to shove (and the Pageant powers-that-be allowed it), the always-acoustic duo would have soldiered on without mics or stage lights. But as it was, some behind-the-board wizard allocated enough juice for the PA, the spotlights, and the bathrooms -- and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the crowd that minded the slight inconvenience. --Christian Schaeffer
Duo/Group of the Year: The Civil Wars
Instrumentalist of the Year: Dave Rawlings
Emerging Artist of the Year: Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes at Old Rock House, 12/18/11 Hot damn. Alabama Shakes owned the Old Rock House last night with an outstanding performance lead by singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, whose mighty energy at the end of the first song claimed two guitar strings (they broke) -- and earned her a transfixed audience.
We were hooked. Howard and her band mates plunged into a fourteen-song set after a brief greeting (although the band's Facebook page lists three other members: Heath Fogg, Zac Cockrell and Steve Johnson, there was a fifth on stage last night--Ben Tanner on the keyboard). The music: start with a little soul, add rock and sprinkle in some blues. Shake accordingly. These elements came together beautifully, delivered right on point by Alabama Shakes. --Kholood Eid
Lifetime Achievement Awards
For Performance: Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt at the Pageant, 5/18/12: Review and Setlist They'd come in from Kansas City, Columbia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Louisville and West County -- and places further, I'm sure. The general admission ticket holders lined up outside the Halo Bar four hours or more before the doors would open, tailgating in their own way with vases of vodka-spiked iced tea and lemonade and take-out pizza. Many had never been to the Pageant before, many more were astonished that Bonnie Raitt was playing such a venue. "Are there seats and tables inside?" one woman asked. "How do I get one?"
Another, like her friends, in a hand-embroidered blouse and sandals, waved her arms in the air and started a sing-along to "Not the Only One," from a moment in time when the blues burst fully into pop in a way that it rarely does. The soulful, sexy and expert music of Bonnie Raitt, and - the loaded word must be used - the authenticity of her persona can still make an impression. Hearing and seeing the really real thing always does. --Roy Kasten
For Instrumentalist: Booker T. Jones
For Songwriting: Richard Thompson
For Executive: Dennis Lord