Shovels & Rope Lead Americana Music Awards Nominations
And the act getting the most nominations for the 2013 Americana Honors & Awards ceremony is… no, not genre superstars Mumford & Sons, who failed to get a single one. Rather, the leader turned out to be Shovels & Rope, with four nods. Haven’t heard of them? Don’t worry -- most Americana fans still haven’t, either.
The husband-and-wife duo from Charleston, SC led the field with four nominations when Lisa Marie Presley and Elizabeth Cook read the list of nominees Tuesday morning at L.A.’s Grammy Museum. The Americana Honors only give out six competitive awards in total, so Shovels & Rope shoveling their way into four of the categories (best album, song, duo/group, and emerging artist) counts as a significant coup.
Lest this older-skewing awards show suddenly be dominated by fresh faces, a couple of monsters of Americana did follow close behind with three nominations each -- genre stalwarts Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller. Double-nominees include Richard Thompson, John Fullbright, JD McPherson, Rodney Crowell, and husband-and-wife duo Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison.
The other Americana act besides Mumford & Sons to enjoy substantial commercial success in the last couple of years, the Lumineers, came up in just one category, getting a nod for best song for the ubiquitous “Ho Hey.”
With this as a boost, could Shovels & Rope follow in the mainstream-courting steps of another celebrated folkie male/female duo, the Civil Wars? Their debut album, O’ Be Joyful, peaked at No. 123 on the Billboard chart after being released last July, but picked up enough cred that the duo became the very rare acoustic-oriented act to be invited to play the Coachella Festival. The New York Times singled them out in a Coachella wrap-up, writing, “In a post-Mumford & Sons world, this qualifies as pop… Of all this afternoon’s young bands, they were the softest, but they might make the loudest crash.” The act is currently on tour as a support act for the L.A.-based group Dawes. Last month, Jack White gave them his imprimatur by releasing a one-off single he produced for the duo on his Third Man label.
The Sept. 18 awards show at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium will be broadcast live for the first time by the AXS cable channel, with a one-hour PBS special to follow in November.
AXS also did a live broadcast of the hour-long nominations show at the Grammy Museum, which was hosted Tuesday by Jim Lauderdale and had Buddy Miller as musical director, just as the more epic Nashville awards show traditionally is. This marks the second year the Americana Honors have done an announcements telecast in L.A. -- sort of the reverse of the Grammys, which have their main show in Los Angeles but a nominations telecast from Nashvillle.
Lauderdale and Miller kicked off the Grammy Museum telecast by covering George Jones’ “The Race is On,” eventually doing a few numbers from the recent joint album that got them a favorite duo nomination. Also performing were a couple of numbers each were Presley, with producer T Bone Burnett joining her on guitar; Simon & Garfunkel-like acoustic duo the Milk Carton Kids, nominated in the emerging artist category; and Elizabeth Cook, last heard issuing a gospel EP. (“God and Buddah and Allah and everybody bless the Americana Music Association,” said Cook, showing she’s not too sectarian.)
As for the eternal question of what Americana music actually is, there were a couple of the standard attempts at providing a media-ready definition. T Bone Burnett gave a quick speech talking about Louis Armstrong as the exemplar of not just Americana but American music, saying, “This music’s in a long continuum. One of the interesting things about the 21st century is how the young musicians in this country have gone back through the whole library of the 20th century that was put together, including Duke Ellington, the Carter Family, and Skip James, an extraordinary range of music and tone and sounds that grew out of this place.”
Presley, who released her first roots-oriented project last year, was a woman of fewer words: “I’ve been hearing people trying to define it. I think it’s just good music that is north of the mainstream, for the most part, anyway. It’s the good stuff.”
The full list of nominees is below:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Buddy & Jim, Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale
Cheater's Game, Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison
From The Ground Up, John Fullbright
O' Be Joyful, Shovels & Rope
Old Yellow Moon, Emmylou Harris/Rodney Crowell
SONG OF THE YEAR
"Birmingham" - Shovels & Rope
"Good Things Happen to Bad People" - Richard Thompson
"Ho Hey" - The Lumineers
"North Side Gal" - JD McPherson
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
EMERGING ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Milk Carton Kids
Shovels & Rope
DUO/GROUP OF THE YEAR
Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell
Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison
Shovels & Rope
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
Pictured (from left): T Bone Burnett, Jim Lauderdale, Lisa Marie Presley, Elizabeth Cook, Americana Music Assoc. Exec. Director Jed Hilly and Buddy Miller.