login | Register

2006 Americana Music Conference and Awards

Road Trip to The 7th Annual Americana Music Conference
& Awards

by Michael Buffalo Smith
November 2006

The Americana Music Conference and Awards was once again an overwhelming success, with stellar musical performances, a great trade show, and perhaps the finest awards show and concert in the history of the AMA’s. Arriving in Nashville on Wednesday afternoon, I found myself in the very thick of it from the moment I hit the Commerce Street entrance to the Nashville Convention Center. Rubbing elbows with old friends and immediately striking up new relationships, the game was on. Now, I will admit, the fast paced conference is a bit like a visit to Disneyland.You map out your plan of attack using the AMA guidebook, but once the event is underway, things change on the fly, and no matter how many notes I manage of scribble down, my report ends up being one big tale, all stream of consciousness. There is definitely no chronological order - that disclaimer being told, here are my memories of this, the 7th annual AMA conference.

There are always a plethora of great seminars and discussions. I attended several, including “Taking It To The Streets - Online Marketing,” with Kissy Black (Publicist, President, Lotus Nile media); Geoff Harrison (GHS Music Management)’ Catherine Oliva (Echo Music): and Todd Cessetty (of Hi-Fi Fusion.). The panel offered excellent tips for the many musicians and songwriters present. Another great panel was “Ten Most Important Rules of Publicity,” with publicists Cary Baker, Kissy Black, Marc Lipkin of Alligator Records, Chris Morris (Music Editor, The Hollywood Reporter) and others. Morris’ humor kept us all in stitches.

Thursday’s lunch was at Robert’s Western World on Broadway, and I joined several friends for some good ol’ Southern BBQ and some fine music from Will Kimbrough, Matt Stillwell, Lori Willcuts and Andrea Zonn. Kimbrough is not only a stellar guitarist, he is also a consummate entertainer, and it was indeed a blast to stand mere feet away and enjoy the music.

Let’s see, throughout the course of the conference, I heart some of the most excellent live music, including a fabulous performance by the Cherryholmes Family, one of my personal favorite bluegrass ensembles, and the amazing harmony of The Anonymous Four, accompanied by Tim O’Brien on mandolin and fiddle. Yet another Americana Cafe performance featured SESAC songwriters Hayes Call, Dana Cooper, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jim Lauderdale and Keven Welch. A fantastic hour of music and laughs. Lauderdale cracks me up.

Night time is the right time at AMC. Wednesday I enjoyed sets by Mountain Heart and The Waybacks, back to back.. All I could think was, Derek Halsey has brainwashed me! He took an old Southern rock fan and turned him on to bluegrass and flat pickin! Well, thanks Derek! Jim Van Cleve and the rest of Mountain Heart were amazing, and the Waybacks, whom I had recently enjoyed closer to home at a Horizon Records in store show, were just monsters on the loose.

I left the Cannery Ballroom and made a B-line for the Mercy Lounge, where I caught half of Mindy Smith’s most excellent set, and a rockin’ midnight show from Dave Alvin. I recall the first time I ever saw Alvin. I was in college, and it was the first ever FarmAid, broadcast live on TV. Dave was fronting The Blasters, and in a single 20-minutes set, he made a fan. Tonight’s show was filled with old and new tunes, passion and twang.

Thursday night began at Mercy Lounge for me. Beginning with the second half of Tres Chicas set, and moving into a might, mighty show by Marty Stuart and his fabulous superlatives. A few hellos and a handshake with Marty (who has become one of my all time favorite pickers) and I caught the shuttle over to the Cannery for James McMurtry’s set, which included the AMA song of the year, “We Can’t Make It Here Anymore” and the hilarious “Choctaw Bingo.”

Friday was more fun. More seminars, more trade show, and my schedules lunch with my friends Steve Popovich, Jr. and Sr. Man, it’s always good to see these cats. I was to meet them at The Deli on the 2nd floor of The Renaissance Hotel. As I got onto the elevator, a familiar face, slightly obscured by shades, with a gig bag dangling from his back called out, “Buffalo!” I turned. “It’s me, Paul Thorn.” I just laughed. I said, “Man, I recognize you bro.” I guess Paul doesn’t realize just what a fan I am. I’d recognize him in a crowd of street preachers! We spoke briefly, as he was, like me, on the way to a meeting. I assured him I would catch his show later that night.

Me, Bill "Guitar" Kirchen and SIRIUS dj Dallas Wayne.

I met Popovich, Jr. who introduced me to Sirius dj Dallas Wayne. Seated at the next table was one of the greats, Bill Kirchen. We spoke for a bit about the last time I had see him, at The Zoo Bar in Lincoln, Nebraska when he was inducted into The Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Soon we were jointed by Popovich, Sr. , and as we spoke, various folks stopped by to speak to him, and to a fault, he would introduce them to me, which I thought was just the nicest thing.

I met Sugar Hill Records founder Barry Poss a heck of a nice guy. Pop introduced me to songwriter Buzz Cason ("Everlasting Love") and I met songwriter Chip Taylor (“Wild Thing,”) (“Angel Of The Morning”). Then I spent a few hours hanging out with Popovich and friends, including country singer/ songwriter David Lynn Jones, his wife and friends. I swear I learned more about the music business during two hours at that table than I learned in a year back home in Carolina. Fun stuff.

Of course, the cherry on top of the AMC conference is The Awards Show, held at the “Mother Church of Country Music, The Ryman Auditorium. Buddy Miller and The ALL Star House Band joined Jim Lauderdale, “The host with the most” for one of the most amazing shows I have witnessed in many a harvest moon.

Charlie Daniels was present with The First Amendment Center/AMA “Spirit of Americana” Free Speech Award before sitting center stage and digging back a few decades to play his first ever hit, the funny “Uneasy Rider,” complete with a stellar mandolin solo from Sam Bush. Just the beginning of an amazing show that included a smoking “Hey Joe” from Jerry Douglas, Tim O-Brien, Kenny Vaughan and Bryan Sutton as a tribute to Sugar Hill’s Barry Poss, who was given a lifetime achievement award.

Great performers followed from Robinella, James Hunter, Kim Richey, James McMurtry, Delbert McClinton, Jim Lauderdale, Ronnie Blakely (The actress from the film “Nashville”), Marty Stuart and His Fabulous superlatives, Rosanne Cash, Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello - what a night.

Here is a complete list of winners.

2006 Americana Honors & Awards
The Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive: Barry Poss, Sugar Hill Records
Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist: Kenny Vaughan
Lifetime Achievement Award for Performing: Alejandro Escovedo
Lifetime Achievement Award for Producer/Engineer: Allen Toussaint
Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting: Rodney Crowell
President's Award: Mickey Newbury
First Amendment Center/Americana Music Association "Spirit of Americana" Free Speech Award: Charlie Daniels
Album Of The Year: Childish Things by James McMurtry (Compadre)
Artist Of The Year: Neil Young
Duo/Group Of The Year: Drive-By Truckers
Instrumentalist Of The Year: Kenny Vaughan
New/Emerging Artist Of The Year: The Greencards
Song Of The Year: "We Can't Make It Here" by James McMurtry; appears on Childish Things by James McMurtry (Compadre)

Bryan Sutton absolutely smokes on the guitar.

After the awards, I was off to Mercy Lounge for back to back sets by the incomerable Tony Joe White and my man Paul Thorn. Wow, talk about a show! After I'd been preached to by the rock and roll reverend Thorn, I made my way back to the hotel to crash and burn. It was 3 a.m.

The Seventh Annual Americana Music Conference and Awards were over, and once again my head was simply overflowng with Americana Music.I needed a palate cleanser. Heading home the next morning, I cranked up the iPod to eleven and played some KISS, some Evanescence and some Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then, somewhere near Knoxville I cranked Soul’s Chapel by Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives and Ain't Love Strange by Paul Thorn. Americana at it’s finest. Ain’t nothing like it.


The Americana Music Association Conference & Awards 2006

Photos Courtesy americanamusic.org Except where noted...

Will Kimbrough entertains during lunch . (MB Smith Photo)


Tim O'Brien fiddles with The Annonymous 4. (MB Smith Photo)


The Annonymous 4. (MB Smith Photo)


Jerry Douglas, Sugar Hill Records founder Barry Poss, Tim O'Brien and Bryan Sutton.


Awards host, Jim Lauderdale.


Winners Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint .


Lunch Crowd- Wayne, Chip Taylor, Steve Popovich, Steve Popovich, Jr., and David Lynn Jones. (MB Smith Photo)




James McMurtry.


SIRIUS Radio Outlaw Country's Steve Popovich, Jr. (left) and Dallas Wayne (Right) with Rockabilly Bill Kirchen.

(MB Smith Photo)


related tags


Currently there are 0 comments. Leave one now!

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.
Copyright 1998-2018 by Swampland Inc. All rights reserved.