Charley pride, Photo by Mandy Lea
BY MATT ALPERT Wide Open Country
Austin’s historic Paramount Theatre played host to traditional country musicians from around the world during the third annual Ameripolitan Awards on Tuesday night.
What is Ameripolitan? All the honky-tonk, Western swing, outlaw and rockabilly music that’s been edged out the country format by the mainstream industry over the years.
The crowd of more than 1,200 looked like a 1950s dancehall packed on a Saturday night. Vintage cars and trucks dropped off guests at the red carpet. Musicians sporting Nudie suits and Western dresses, adorned in cowboy hats and bolo ties filled the venue. Country legends strolled casually through the aisles, chatting with folks in the beer line.
Benson and Watson provided colorful banter throughout the evening, keeping the atmosphere loose and jovial. When a nominee’s name was read, cowboy whoops and hollers leaped out from the crowd. Between the awards, the all-star band, which included master picker Redd Volkaert and fiddler Jason Roberts, backed special guest performances.
One of the evening’s highlights was a performance by Charley Pride, who accepted this year’s highest honor, the Master Award.
The Ameripolitan Awards was exactly what an awards show for traditional country music should be, and it was a refreshing juxtaposition to the vapid glamour of the Grammy Awards the night before.
As Benson mentioned at the opening of night, other country awards shows don’t showcase this side of country music. The CMAs? As far as Benson’s concerned, that stands for “Country My Ass”.
Here’s a list of the 2016 Ameripolitan Awards winners:
HONKY TONK FEMALE
HONKY TONK MALE
HONKY TONK GROUP
Jeff Woolsey & Dancehall Kings
The Bellfuries – Taylor Norwood, Sean Crooks
WESTERN SWING FEMALE
WESTERN SWING MALE
WESTERN SWING GROUP
Billy Mata and the Texas Tradition
The White Horse, Austin, Texas
San Angelo Cowboy Gathering
FOUNDER OF THE SOUND
Wanda Jackson, Red Simpson