NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Havighurst) -- "This is weird," said songwriter Jason Isbell with a touch of irony as he joined his former band mates Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley for an acoustic performance at the Country Music Hall of Fame on Tuesday afternoon. “I like weird,” Isbell added.
The occasion was a ceremony announcing the nominees for the 16th annual Americana Honors and Awards. And it didn't go too strangely for any of these three musicians. Isbell was nominated as Artist of the Year (an award he won in 2014). Hood and Cooley's Drive By Truckers were announced as Group/Duo of the Year nominees, while their acclaimed American Band LP was named among the year's top albums. Sturgill Simpson led all honorees with nominations for Artist of the Year, Song of the Year for “All Around You” and Album of the Year for A Sailor’s Guide To Earth.
Also performing in the Ford Theater was the Jerry Douglas Band, songwriter Caitlin Canty and The Milk Carton Kids, the duo of Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, who also hosted the announcements.
The Honors and Awards, which take place September 13 at the Ryman Auditorium, “feels like a bit homecoming for those of us who feel part of this community,” Ryan said afterwords. He added that the event’s lifetime achievement award winners (which are announced in the Fall) have created opportunities to meet and work with musical heroes. “So every year when I hear rumblings about who it’s going to be, it just solidifies for me again that we have to make sure we get back to the Ryman.”
That planning is precisely why the Americana Music Association now announces its award nominees in May for a mid September event.
“I’ll be really honest as a grassroots association growing up it was hard to get artists to commit (to come) so close to the event,” says longtime executive director Jed Hilly. “September’s a big time of the year to be out on the road. So back about ten years ago pushed it back, and we haven’t had a no show in years.”
Here’s the complete list of nominees:
Album of the Year:
American Band, Drive-By Truckers, Produced by David Barbe
Close Ties, Rodney Crowell, Produced by Kim Buie and Jordan Lehning
Freedom Highway, Rhiannon Giddens, Produced David Bither, Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell
The Navigator, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Produced by Paul Butler
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson, Produced by Sturgill Simpson
Artist of the Year:
Duo/Group of the Year:
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry
Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives
Emerging Artist of the Year:
Aaron Lee Tasjan
Song of the Year:
“All Around You,” Sturgill Simpson, Written by Sturgill Simpson
“It Ain’t Over Yet,” Rodney Crowell (feat. Rosanne Cash & John Paul White), Written by Rodney Crowell
“To Be Without You,” Ryan Adams, Written by Ryan Adams
“Wreck You,” Lori McKenna, Written by Lori McKenna and Felix McTeigue
Instrumentalist of the Year:
Spencer Cullum, Jr.
All photos by Jacqueline Justice.