2014 Grammy Nominees – Americana and Roots Music


The National Academy of Recording Arts and Science tried something new to announce the nomineews for the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards. The nomniees were announced piecemeal, per catagory, via twitter exclusively starting at 9am.

Ths staggared apprach was odd but, if you kept on top of thier account, not terrible. A social media strategy is to garner attention for the nomination process and let musicians and other personalties announce via video tweets and the nomninees and fans to organically respond in kind. In that context this was a win.

After the major categories, best pop album, country album and the like , were out of teh way – with nominee reactions tweeted in reponse (which really is the only up side to the Twiiter  approach) the Best Americana Album nominees were released just before noon.

That the catagory was tweeted with the other major categories, along with fancy graphic of the nominee album covers , was like hanging with the cool kids – well, the popular kids,  as the other roots categories like folk and bluegrass – had to wait for the full nomninee list to be released later in the day.

I was three for 7 for my Americana Album of the Year predictions. Rosanne Cash, one of my safe bets (and still my choice to take the prize) and, suprisingly two of my dark horse choices, Nickel Creek and Sturgill Simpson, made the list.

My quibbles are with John Hiatt, inclusion for ‘Terms of My Surrender,’ a solid but not exceptional release. Keb’ Mo’ is nominated for ‘Bluesamericana.’ Mo is a legendary blues performer , and Blues Grammy winner, and should be represtented in that esteemed category. NARAS includes blues as a formal component to the category and though I agree with that the blues are a major part of Americana as a award category it is already represented as a formal genre. In that sme vein Dave & Phil Alvin’s rootsy jam ‘Common Ground’ is puzzlingly nominated in the Blues category. I say swap ’em.

Another head scratcher is the inclusion of Old Crow Medicine Show. Their latest effort ‘Remedy’ is certainly worthy of a nomination, but in folk? They would be better reprsented in Americana or even Bluegrass as these are their true styles.

NARAS continues to not care about the endless echo chamber of country music awards shows by making two sprising nominations. One being my top pick of 2013, Brandy Clark’s ’12 Stories as well as Lee Ann Womack’s ode to old-school aethsetic  ‘The Way I’m Livin’ ‘ Dierks Bentley, Eric Church and Miranda Lambert round out the list. The Acadamy is daring, but not totally deaf to the county mainstream market. 

Who will win? Well, Kasey Muagraves won the trophy last year for her irreverent ‘Same Trailer Different Park,’ so anything could happen.

Brandy Clark is also up against some stiff competition for New Artist, but she certainly deserves to win. 

Beck is nominated for his wonderfully melencholy folk ‘Morning Phase’ and for Best Rock Song and Rock Performance (still unsure of the distincion here) for the spacey ‘Blue Moon.’ Ryan Adams is up in the same categories with his latest self-titled album and song/performance for his retro-rock ‘Gimme Something Good.’

Alison Krauss, The women with the most Grammy wins, could increase her Grammy count to 28 with a win in the American Roots Performance category. She, Billy Childs & Jerry Douglas are nominated for their collaborative effort on ‘And When I Die’ from the tribute ‘Map To The Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro.’ This is her 42nd nomination.

Congratulations to all the nominees. Keep an eye on GRAMMY.com and CBS February 15, 2015 to see who takes home the trophy.

My choices are in BOLD.

EDIT – It was a major oversight that Mike Farris was not originally included as a nominee for the Best Roots Gospel album for his ‘Shine For All The People.’ He is one of the best performers, and human beings, I’ve ever had the privilege to know. Congratulations to Mike and all the good people at Compass Records.

Best Americana Album
‘The River & the Thread’ – Rosanne Cash
‘Terms of My Surrender’ – John Hiatt
‘Bluesamericana’ – Keb’ Mo’
‘A Dotted Line’ – Nickel Creek
‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ – Sturgill Simpson

Best country album
‘Riser’ – Dierks Bentley
‘The Outsiders’ – Eric Church
’12 Stories’ – Brandy Clark
‘Platinum’ – Miranda Lambert
‘The Way I’m Livin’ ‘ – Lee Ann Womack

Best rock song
‘Ain’t it Fun’ – Paramore
‘Blue Moon’ – Beck
‘Fever’ – The Black Keys
‘Gimme Something Good’ – Ryan Adams
‘Lazaretto’ – Jack White

Best rock albums
‘Ryan Adams’- Ryan Adams
‘Morning Phase’ – Beck
‘Turn Blue’ – The Black Keys
‘Hypnotic Eye’ – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
‘Songs of Innocence’ – U2

Best new artist
Iggy Azalea
Brandy Clark
Sam Smith

Best American Roots Performance
Gregg Allman & Taj Mahal – ‘Statesboro Blues’
from: ‘All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs & Voice Of Gregg Allman’ [Rounder]
Rosanne Cash – ‘A Feather’s Not A Bird’ from: ‘The River & The Thread’ [Blue Note Records]
Billy Childs Featuring Alison Krauss & Jerry Douglas – ‘And When I Die’ from: ‘Map To The Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro’
Keb’ Mo’ Featuring The California Feet Warmers – ‘The Old Me Better’ from: ‘Bluesamericana’ [Kind Of Blue Music]
Nickel Creek – ‘Destination’ from: A Dotted Line [Nonesuch]

Best American Roots Song
(A Songwriter(s) Award. Includes Americana, bluegrass, blues, folk or regional roots songs. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)
‘A Feather’s Not A Bird’ – Rosanne Cash & John Leventhal, songwriters (Rosanne Cash) from: ‘The River & The Thread’ [Blue Note Records; Publishers: Chelcait Music admin. by Measurable Music LLC, a Notable Music Co./Lev-A-Tunes]
– ‘Just So Much’ – Jesse Winchester, songwriter (Jesse Winchester) from: ‘A Reasonable Amount Of Trouble’ [Appleseed; Publisher: Bug Music]
– ‘The New York Trains’ – The Del McCoury Band
Woody Guthrie & Del McCoury, songwriters (The Del McCoury Band)
Track from: My Name Is New York: Deluxe Audio Book [Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.]
– ‘Pretty Little One’ – Steve Martin And The Steep Canyon Rangers Featuring Edie Brickell
Edie Brickell & Steve Martin, songwriters (Steve Martin And The Steep Canyon Rangers Featuring Edie Brickell) from: Live
[Rounder; Publishers: LA Films Music/Brick Elephant Music]
– ‘Terms Of My Surrender’ – John Hiatt songwriter (John Hiatt)
from: ‘Terms Of My Surrender’ [New West Records; Publisher: So Not That Music]

Best Folk Album
(For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental folk recordings.)
– ‘Three Bells’ – Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas & Rob Ickes [Rounder]
– ‘Follow The Music’ – Alice Gerrard [Tompkins Square]
– ‘The Nocturne Diaries’ – Eliza Gilkyson [Red House Records]
‘Remedy’ – Old Crow Medicine Show [ATO Records]
– ‘A Reasonable Amount Of Trouble’ – Jesse Winchester [Appleseed]

Best Blues Album
(For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental blues recordings.)
– ‘Common Ground – Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play And Sing The Songs Of Big Bill Broonzy’ – Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin
[Yep Roc Records]
– ‘Promise Of A Brand New Day’ – Ruthie Foster [Blue Corn Music]
– ‘Juke Joint Chapel’ – Charlie Musselwhite [Henrietta Records]
– ‘Decisions’ – Bobby Rush With Blinddog Smokin’ [Silver Talon Records]
‘Step Back’ – Johnny Winter [Megaforce Records]

Best Bluegrass Album
(For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental bluegrass recordings.)
‘The Earls Of Leicester’ – The Earls Of Leicester [Rounder]
‘Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe’ – Noam Pikelny [Compass Records]
– ‘Cold Spell’ – Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen [Compass Records]
– ‘Into My Own’ – Bryan Sutton [Sugar Hill Records]
– ‘Only Me’ – Rhonda Vincent [Upper Management Music]

Best Roots Gospel Album
– ‘Forever Changed’ – T. Graham Brown [MCM World Media]
‘Shine For All The People’ – Mike Farris [Compass Records]
– ‘Hymns’ – Gaither Vocal Band [Gaither Music Group]
– ‘A Cappella’ – The Martins [Gaither Music Group]
– ‘His Way Of Loving Me’ – Tim Menzies [Grace Records]

Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package
‘Cities Of Darkscorch’ – Leland Meiners & Ken Shipley, art directors (Various Artists) Label: The Numero Group
– ‘A Letter Home (Vinyl Box Set) – Gary Burden & Jenice Heo, art directors (Neil Young) Label: Third Man Records
– The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27)
Susan Archie, Dean Blackwood & Jack White, art directors (Various Artists) Label: Third Man Records/ Revenant Records
– ‘Sparks’ (Deluxe Album Box Set) Andy Carne, art director (Imogen Heap) Label: RCA Records/ Megaphonic Records
– ‘Spring 1990 (The Other One)’ Jessica Dessner, Lisa Glines, Doran Tyson & Steve Vance, art directors (Grateful Dead)
Label: Rhino

Best Album Notes
– ‘Happy: The 1920 Rainbo Orchestra Sides’ David Sager, album notes writer (Isham Jones Rainbo Orchestra)
Label: Archeophone Records
– ‘I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-70’ Alec Palao, album notes writer (Various Artists) Label: Light In The Attic Records
– ‘Offering: Live At Temple University’ Ashley Kahn, album notes writer (John Coltrane) Label: Resonance/Impulse
‘The Other Side Of Bakersfield: 1950s & 60s Boppers And Rockers From ‘Nashville West’ ‘ Scott B. Bomar, album notes writer (Various Artists) Label: Bear Family
– ‘Purple Snow: Forecasting The Minneapolis Sound’ Jon Kirby, album notes writer (Various Artists) Label: The Numero Group
– ‘The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27)’
Scott Blackwood, album notes writer (Various Artists) Label: Third Man Records/Revenant Records

Best Historical Album
– ‘Black Europe: The Sounds And Images Of Black People In Europe Pre-1927’ Jeffrey Green, Ranier E. Lotz & Howard Rye, compilation producers; Christian Zwarg, mastering engineer (Various Artists) Label: Bear Family
‘The Garden Spot Programs, 1950’ Colin Escott & Cheryl Pawelski, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineer (Hank Williams) Label: Omnivore Recordings
– ‘Happy: The 1920 Rainbo Orchestra Sides’ Meagan Hennessey & Richard Martin, compilation producers; Richard Martin, mastering engineer (Isham Jones Rainbo Orchestra) Label: Archeophone Records
– ‘Longing For The Past: The 78 RPM Era In Southeast Asia’ Steven Lance Ledbetter & David Murray, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineer (Various Artists)
Label: Dust-To-Digital
– ‘There’s A Dream I’ve Been Saving: Lee Hazlewood Industries 1966 – 1971 (Deluxe Edition)’ Hunter Lea, Patrick McCarthy & Matt Sullivan, compilation producers; John Baldwin, mastering engineer (Various Artists) Label: Light In The Attic Records

Recording Academy Adds New Roots Music Category


Rejoice you motley ranks of roots music aficionados, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences at its annual spring meeting added a new category to the growing roots music field, Best American Roots Music Performance.

So with a tile like that I have to ask, what is it?

The GRAMMY site states matter-of-factly that the category was added but gives no insight to how it’s distinct this new category from Best American Roots Music Song or Best Americana Album.

So let’s take a look at the the already existing Best Metal Performance or Best Rock Performance categories

Best Rock Performance doesn’t provide music. It was basically an exercise in consolidation of 3 categories – Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Rock Instrumental Performance because “any distinction between these performances is difficult to make.” Fair enough, but no insight to our task.

Best Metal Performance is a little clearer. It is awarded “..for works (songs or albums) containing quality performances in the heavy metal music genre.” It, along with
Best Hard Rock Performance, was created as a separate distinct categories from the original Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance. this original category resulted in the famous Jethro Tull/Metallica fiasco of 1989.

So there you have it. Best American Roots Music Performance celebrates just that, quality performances. Of course that is ambiguous enough to lead to years of grumbling about which Best American Roots Music Performance was better then another Best American Roots Music Performance.

I say let’s just give it to Chris Thile for the first few year until things settle out.

Winners at the 56th Grammy Awards


In he four years that I’ve participated in the GRAMMYs (yes, that a brand thing) community of bloggers program I always have someone ask me. “Why do it?”

I have a simple answer, exposure. Not just for me. – even if, as T Bone might suggest, I eschewed the spotlight, the blogger community program shines a brighter light on me and I in turn point that light toward great music and evets that most people aren’t aware of outside of the televised GRAMMY awards program showed for several hours in late Fall every year.

Events like the the Grammy Foundation’s “A Song is Born” program that took place at the classically elagant Wilshire Ebell Theater celebrating the alchemy of sound, emotion and words that is songwriting. Seventeen artists, most of them writers rather than the original interpreters, provided the audience with a live glimpse behind the creative curtain.

Singer/songwriter and actor and country-rock pioneer JD Souther, brought Dan Wilson (Grammy winner for his songs for Dixie Chicks and Adele), Joy Williams (Grammy winner for Civil Wars) for a wonderfully sweet rendition of his co-written hit with the Eagles, “New Kid in Town.”

Kris Kristofferson, who alluded to his recent disclosure of memory loss when he mentioned that “77 is a tough age.” He the enraptured the crowd with a rousing version of “Me and Bobby McGee” and a gut-wrenching rendition of “For the Good Times.”

Legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb took to piano to tell stories of his career. Like when the record company shows wariness of his song by the Fifth Dimension “Up, Up, and Away,” partly because they “they thought it was about drugs. It was just an ironic moment because of all the songs that year , 1967, were on radio that week, “Up Up and Away” was the only song that was not about drugs.”

perform a passionate “Wichita Lineman” in honor of “my friend” Glenn Campbell.

The GRAMMY pre-telecast is where the majority of the awards are given. The MC for the event was 80’s singing star, and current Broadway composer, Cyndi Lauper was charmingly bumbling iin her Queens kind of way.

Winners for the night (and if you followed my Twitter account you already know this) were:
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell for “Old Yellow Moon,” Crowell accepted the award as he mentioned that Harris was “being a good sister” and tending to her ill brother.

Edie Brickell & Steve Martin were awards the GRAMMY for Best American Roots Song for their collaboration “Love Has Come For You.” “ Edie if the finest lyricist I’ve ever worked with.” Martin quipped.

Guy Clark was awarded a long overdue first GRAMMY for “My Favorite Picture Of You,” which took home Best Folk Album. Best Bluegrass Album went to that genre’s stalwart Del McCoury and his band.

The two biggest Americana and roots surprises came in the mainstream country categories.

The 25-year-old pop-folk upstart Kacey Musgraves took the gold, along with co-writers Shane McNally And Josh Osborne, for Country Song of the Year for “Merry Go ‘Round.” The surprise came when Musgraves won the big prize, Country Album of the Year for “Same Trailer Different Park.” against the old guard of Taylor Swift, Lee Brice, Miranda Lambert, and Blake Shelton.

When The Civil Wars were announced for their fourth Grammy for best country duo/group performance for “From This Valley” all eyes were searching to see if they currently at odds duo would appear. John Paul White ambled to the stage in typical formal attire alone and proceeded to jokingly apologize to fellow nominee Dolly Parton. “I’d like to apologize to Dolly Parton for depriving her of anything at all,” White joked. “She’s one of my biggest heroes.
He then went on to thank his wife, his four children and plumber who was currently fixing the water system.

There was no mention of producer Charlie Peacock or band’s other half, Joy Williams, who had been in attendance during of other events during Grammy Week.

The Civil Wars Facebook page was flooded with long-suffering fan’s outrage and disappointment and White later broke his more than year-long Twitter silence to apologize and thank Peacock and Williams.

On the main telecast I was delighted to see original Highwaymen, Willie Nelson and recipient of the 2014 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award Kris Kristofferson shared the stage with Bakersfield legend Merle Haggard and newcomer (and contrite trad-country basher) Blake Shelton do a medley of classic country hits like “The Highwayman,” “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” and “Okie From Muskogee.”

A great year of surprises, long-deserved recognition and lifted boats.


55th Grammy Awards : John Fullbright – “Gawd Above”

Another Grammy highlight for me was seeing Okemah native John Fullbright perform “Gawd Above” from his Americana Album of the Year nominated “From The Ground Up” at the per-telecast.


The 54th Grammys Americana Music Trek So Far

A quick update for those not following me over in twitter (@twangnation ). I have had the privilege of seeing scores of legends. From Neil Young and Paul McCartney to Allison Krauss and Joe Walsh at the GRAMMYS Person of the Year/Music Cares benefit. I also met two living legends yesterday at the Special Merit Awards, Glenn Campbell and George Jones! . On top of this already daunting bounty of riches I met up with Shooter Jennings and found him to be a hell of a nice guy with a broad knowledge of musical history and the business.

This is a music fan’s dream realized! I will do a more thorough post when I get back from the event tommorow.

Americana and Roots 54th Grammy Awards Nominees – 2012

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) announced its nominees for the 54rd Annual Grammy Awards. I was pleased to see Americana and roots performers being nominated for some of the more prestigious awards like Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Below are nominees that fall into the Americana and roots category and other artists in other categories that might be of interest to readers of Twang Nation.

Best Americana Album
Emotional Jukebox – Linda Chorney
Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down – Ry Cooder
Hard Bargain – Emmylou Harris
Ramble At The Ryman – Levon Helm
Blessed – Lucinda Williams

Best Folk Album
Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars
I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive – Steve Earle
Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
Ukulele Songs- Eddie Vedder
The Harrow & The Harvest – Gillian Welch

Best Bluegrass Album
Paper Airplane – Alison Krauss & Union Station
Reason And Rhyme  – Jim Lauderdale
Rare Bird Alert – Steve Martin And The Steep Canyon Rangers
Old Memories: The Songs Of Bill Monroe – The Del McCoury Band
A Mother’s Prayer- Ralph Stanley
Sleep With One Eye Open- Chris Thile & Michael Daves

Best Country Album
“Here For A Good Time” — George Strait

Best Children’s Album
I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow (various artists collection)

Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes
The Bristol Sessions, 1927-1928: The Big Bang of Country Music (various artists collection)

Record Of The Year
Rolling In The Deep – Adele
Holocene – Bon Iver
The Cave – Mumford & Sons

Album Of The Year
21 – Adele

Song Of The Year
The Cave – Mumford & Sons
Holocene – Bon Iver
Rolling In The Deep – Adele

Best New Artist
Bon Iver

Best Pop Solo Performance
Someone Like You – Adele

Best Pop Instrumental Album
The Road From Memphis – Booker T. Jones
Setzer Goes Instru-Mental! – Brian Setzer

Best Pop Vocal Album
21 – Adele

Best Rock Performance
Down By The Water – The Decemberists
The Cave – Mumford & Sons

Best Rock Song
The Cave – Mumford & Sons
Down By The Water- The Decemberists

Best Rock Album
Wilco  – The Whole Love

Best Alternative Music Album
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars

Best Country Song
Threaten Me With Heaven – Vince Gill

Best Instrumental Composition
Life In Eleven РB̩la Fleck & Howard Levy, composers (B̩la Fleck & The Flecktones)

Best Engineered Album (Non Classical)
Follow Me Down-  Brandon Bell & Gary Paczosa, engineers; Sangwook “Sunny” Nam & Doug Sax, mastering engineers (Sarah Jarosz)
The Harrow & The Harvest – Matt Andrews, engineer; Stephen Marcussen, mastering engineer (Gillian Welch)
Paper Airplane – Mike Shipley, engineer; Brad Blackwood, mastering engineer (Alison Krauss & Union Station)