ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2015

Lee Ann Womack Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Austin City Limits heads to Nashville for a special broadcast featuring performance highlights from this year’s Americana Honors & Awards. ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2015 delivers sparkling performances that represent the genre’s diversity and excellence. The music-filled special features many of the night’s Lifetime Achievement Honorees, award-winners, next-generation stars and icons who helped define the genre; among them: Don Henley, Los Lobos, Ricky Skaggs, Lee Ann Womack, Shakey Graves, Keb’ Mo’, Jason Isbell, Rhiannon Giddens, Robert Randolph and John Hiatt.  

“The Americana Honors & Awards showcases one of the biggest and brightest lineups of talent seen all year,” raves NPR. Recorded live at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium in September, The Americana Music Association’s 14th Annual Honors & Awards ceremony is a best in show reflecting the spirit of Americana: American roots music that incorporates elements of country, rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues.

Robert Randolph, The Fairfield Four, The McCrary Sisters Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Hosted by Americana kingpin Jim Lauderdale, the show opens with steel guitar sensation Robert Randolph joining with two legendary gospel groups, The Fairfield Four and the McCrary Sisters, for a rousing rendition of “Rock My Soul.” Highlights include show-stopping performances by the night’s Artist of the Year nominees: Rhiannon Giddens showcases her powerful vocals in a stunning performance of “Waterboy” from her Album of the Year-nominated Tomorrow Is My Turn. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, who captured top honors at last year’s awards, offers the anthemic title track of his new album, Something More Than Free. Country queen Lee Ann Womack performs from her critically-acclaimed The Way I’m Livin’, also nominated for Album of the Year.  

Another of the night’s top nominees, Emerging Artist of the Year winner Shakey Graves, is joined by Esmé Patterson for a playful duet of his nominated single “Dearly Departed.” Duo/group nominees The Lone Bellow, an indie-folk trio, make their first appearance, singing their standout “Then Came the Morning.”  

Marc Ribot & Buddy Miller Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

In true Americana style, the broadcast is loaded with musical moments and collaborations from the music’s forebears, including ovation-worthy turns from musical legend Don Henley, awarded a Lifetime Achievement Honor, performing from his acclaimed new album Cass County and veteran singer-songwriter and Song of the Year nominee John Hiatt. Bluegrass master Ricky Skaggs—the night’s Lifetime Achievement Honoree for Instrumentalist—performs with his wife and collaborator Sharon White alongside fellow legend Ry Cooder; and Americana icon Buddy Miller and celebrated guitarist and songwriter Marc Ribot present a stripped-down acoustic version of the Hank Williams classic “Cold, Cold Heart.”   

Blues titan Keb’ Mo’ pays a heartfelt tribute to the night’s President’s Award Honoree B.B. King, with a soulful interpretation of one of the late legend’s signature songs, “How Blue Can You Get,” (alongside King’s beloved guitar “Lucille”). The night’s Lifetime Achievement Award honorees for Performance, East L.A. stalwarts Los Lobos, validate their honor with a blistering, show-closing rendition of their classic “Will the Wolf Survive.”

Jim Lauderdale Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Throughout the broadcast, performers are backed by an all-star house band—led by Buddy Miller—and featuring legendary musicians: Dominic Davis, Chad Cromwell, Fats Kaplin, Ian Fitchuk, the McCrary Sisters and Little Feat founding member Bill Payne.

“This event is a musical celebration that brings together the finest musicians in the world, with legendary acts and the next generation of stars,” says Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association, adding “it’s about great songs and the appreciation for the authentic sound of American roots music.”

The show was co-produced by High Five Entertainment and its President Martin Fischer and ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona.

ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2014

Americana Music Festival & Conference Award Show - Show, Audience & Backstage

Austin City Limits heads to Nashville for a special broadcast featuring performance highlights from this year’s Americana Honors & Awards. ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2014 premieres this weekend on PBS and delivers a stellar line-up of artists celebrating the best of Americana music today. Recorded live at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium in September, The Americana Music Association’s 13th Annual Honors & Awards ceremony, hosted by Americana stalwart Jim Lauderdale is a star-studded affair reflecting the magnitude of the genre’s reach. The performance-filled episode features the night’s Lifetime Achievement Honorees, award-winners, Americana’s rising stars and icons who helped define the genre; among them: Loretta Lynn, Jackson Browne, Jason Isbell, Rosanne Cash, Sturgill Simpson, Patty Griffin, Robert Plant, Flaco Jimenez, Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal.

Country legend Loretta Lynn, awarded the Lifetime Achievement Honor for Songwriter, performs her signature “Coal Miner’s Daughter” on the same stage where she made her Ryman debut in 1962. Veteran singer/songwriter/activist Jackson Browne, recipient of a Spirit of Americana award, performs a new song, the social wake-up call “The Long Way Around.” Tejano accordionist and Lifetime Achievement Honoree Flaco Jimenez dazzles with his trademark norteño music accompanied by longtime collaborator, guitarist extraordinaire Ry Cooder. Genre-defying bluesman Taj Mahal demonstrates how he earned a Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance with a show-stopping “Statesboro Blues.”

Award-winners and nominees also perform, led by Jason Isbell, who took top honors with wins for Artist of the Year and Album of the Year; he gives a stunning reading of his Song of the Year “Cover Me Up” from 2013’s landmark album Southeastern. Duo/Group winners The Milk Carton Kids, a Los Angeles-based acoustic folk duo, delight with their signature two guitar style. Singer/songwriter and multiple nominee Rosanne Cash performs “A Feather’s Not a Bird” from her critically lauded recent release The River and The Thread. Americana veteran Patty Griffin gives a beautiful rendition of her hit “Ohio,” joined in blended harmony by music icon and frequent collaborator Robert Plant.

Inspired turns by some of the genre’s newest innovators include Oklahoman singer/songwriter Parker Millsap, blues shapeshifter and Tennessee native Valerie June and dynamic Alabama soul outfit St. Paul and The Broken Bones, who bring the Ryman audience to its feet with a roof-raising performance.  Emerging Artist winner and Nashville rebel Sturgill Simpson closes out the show with a standout rendition of his song “Life of Sin,” forecasting the future of American roots music.

Throughout the broadcast, the performers are backed by the Americana All-Stars, the evening’s ace house band. Led by musical director Buddy Miller, also named Instrumentalist of the Year, the ensemble features Don Was, Joachim Cooder, Tim Lauer, Nashville gospel group The McCrary Sisters and Americana trailblazer Ry Cooder. Viewers will find it hard to remain on their couches as the band heats up the Willie Dixon classic “You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover,” joined by emcee Jim Lauderdale.

“If there was a heat sensor for creativity pointed at the planet earth, the Americana Honors & Awards would be RED HOT on the gradient chart,” says Americana Music Association Executive Director Jed Hilly, adding “it’s truly humbling to host this event and we are honored to partner with the best in the land, Austin City Limits, to present the program for PBS viewers.”