Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I was always told try not to write or speak in absolutes. Never say never or ever because we just don’t know for sure. Well, I know for sure that attending and working at the 2017 Ameripolitan Awards was the best night ever. I will never go to The Grammys, The CMA Awards, or the Academy Awards and that is fine with me. I can say I did go to the Ameripolitan Awards and that means more to me than all of the aforementioned award shows.
I think a little bit of background is in order. The Ameripolitan Awards are the brainchild of rocker and long time Austin resident, Dale Watson. The 2017 edition is the fourth installment of the awards. Ameripolitan emcompasses four categories of country music that are not represented elsewhere. Those categories are: Outlaw, Rockabilly, Honky Tonk, and Western Swing. As Dale Watson states, “The real country music”. I tend to agree with him.
For information about the nominees and individual categories, you can click on the links below:
Honky Tonk Female; Rockabilly Male; Western Swing Male; Outlaw Female; Outlaw Male; Rockabilly Female; Honky Tonk Male; Western Swing Group; Outlaw Group; Rockabilly Group; Western Swing Female; Honky Tonk Group
There was online voting to decide the winners in each category. The nominees came from all over the US and the world. Besides the US, countries such as Austria, Australia, England, Italy and Spain were represented.
The nominees wanted to be there. They were all genuinely elated just to be nominated. This was the reward for them writing, recording, and performing for folks around the world. All of the them were extremely grateful for the chance to be recognized and honored.
The event was extremely well run and well organized, especially for a grassroots movement such as this. There was a badging station where we got our press credentials and passes. I had my photographer with me, Mr. Barry Madison (AKA Thunderhead). He is the man responsible for all the wonderful pictures. Then, there was a red carpet where the nominees, dignitaries, and performers walked for photo ops and interviews. All was done with precision and class. The nominees and performers were transported to the theater in vintage cars and hot rods. It was a perfect entrance for this event.
The awards were held in The Paramount Theater, a perfect old venue for this extravaganza. It was professional and well organized, but not the least bit stuffy. Everyone was free to be themselves and get a bit rowdy if they wanted to. Ray Benson and Dale Watson were perfect emcees. They were funny and charming and know how to work the crowd. All of the presenters were wonderful as well.
In between the categories, there were plenty of performers that made this event truly special. The crew prepared perfectly and there was no lulls between the categories and the performers. It went on like a well oiled machine. The 13 performers were: Rosie Flores, James Intveld, Charlie Thompson, Leona Williams, Jake Penrod. Lance Lipinsky, Marti Brom, Jesse Dayton, Bonnie Montgomery, Wayne Hancock, Dale Watson & Ray Benson, Junior Brown, and Carolyn Martin. All of the performances were spectacular.
In addition to the main 12 categories, there were some special awards and awards for festivals and venues. A list of all the award winners is here:
Master Award: Jerry Lee Lewis
Keeper of the Key: Junior Brown
Musician “The Mooney Award”: Chris Casello
Western Swing Group: The Western Flyers
Western Swing Female: Kristyn Harris
Western Swing Male: Pokey LaFarge
Honky Tonk Group: Gary P. Nunn and the Bunkhouse Band
Honky Tonk Female: Leona Williams
Honky Tonk Male: Jake Penrod
Rockabilly Group: The Silvershakers
Rockabilly Female: Lara Hope
Rockabilly Male: Lance Lipinsky
Outlaw Group: Dallas Moore Band
Outlaw Female: Darci Carlson
Outlaw Male: Hank III
Venue: Lil’ Red’s Longhorn Saloon, Fort Worth TX
Festival: Nashville Boogie
DJ: James Riley
This was a magical evening and I didn’t want it to end. But, all good things must come to an end, so the saying goes. I have the pictures and the memories. I also have something to look forward to for next year. This is an event any country music fan should attend in the greatest music city in the world, Austin, Texas. Until next year….