Americana Music Awards 2013: Ten Most Incredible Encounters

Alisa B. Cherry
Billy Bragg at the Americana Music Festival

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares observations, insights and updates relating to South Florida's musical environs. This week, an incredible five days in Nashville...

Only Nashville could host an event like the Americana Music Festival and Conference. Austin has South By Southwest, and New York and L.A. have a monopoly on practically everything else. But when you're talking country, blues, Gospel, and R&B, you're talking Nashville.

Though more than a dozen years in existence, the Americana Music Association's annual event continues to grow in size, pride, and prestige each year. And it doesn't take a fondness for over-sized cowboy hats, big boots, or even the sweetest Southern accent to have an appreciation for the wide sonic terrain that Americana now embraces. It only takes a willingness to appreciate, and an open heart and head. And if that means dancing like you're at a hoedown or shedding a few furtive tears while hearing an especially sad refrain, then so be it. Americana sure as hell ain't going away, so you might as well get into it.

As a newcomer to this awesome celebration, there were obvious highlights, even beyond the music. Here then, are the top ten things that made the AMA rock.

10. The Bluegrass Situation party featured an all-star musical line-up with David Bromberg, the Milk Carton Kids, the Steep Canyon Rangers, and actor, impresario Ed Helms. The fact that it was held in the Cannery Ballroom, located in the same building as two other staging areas of varying size, made club-hopping a sweet possibility.

9. An afternoon interview session with Billy Bragg at the Sheraton offered genuine bragging rights (sorry), as well as an up-close encounter with the artist. On his newly sprouted facial hair, Bragg said, "A Kenny Rogers beard hides multiple chins." On his shift from political posturing to waxing on fostering romantic relationships: "I'm still singing about a titanic struggle." On Americana itself: "Country music for people who like the Smiths."

8. The Australian showcase gave us the opportunity to catch the revered Bushwackers, whose song "I Am Australian" was so tear-wrenching, it made a grown man (mainly me) cry. Likewise, a husband-wife duo called the Borderers upped the ante on energy while adding a bit of trepidation due to the fact that the male member of the group fancied a few high kicks while wearing kilts, offering the possibility that another male member might make an unexpected appearance. 'Nuff said.

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