Jason Isbell dominates Americana Music Awards

NASHVILLE — Jason Isbell won big Wednesday at the 13th annual Americana Music Honors & Awards, taking awards for all three awards for which he was nominated — top artist, album and song.

“Happy birthday to Hank Williams,” Isbell said as he accepted the song of the year for Cover Me Up, which he also performed. “If it wasn’t for that guy, we’d be doing this in some burned-out Kmart in Murfreesboro.”.

The 2,000-member Americana Music Association held the awards ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium, the regular home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 until 1974. The association handed out three lifetime-achievement awards, for songwriter, performance and instrumentalist.

Loretta Lynn accepted the songwriter award 54 years to the day that she first appeared on the Ryman stage, making her Grand Ole Opry debut. Kacey Musgraves, who presented the award with Angaleena Presley, introduced Lynn, 82, as “a woman who raised up six children and 70-odd hit singles but, just as importantly, raised everyone’s idea of what a country song could talk about it.”.

Lynn received a standing ovation as she accepted the award, then said, “When they called me that we were going to this award, I said, ‘Nah, you’ve got the wrong one.’ But it was right, and I was so proud.”.

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Shortly after Lynn performed her signature tune, Coal Miner’s Daughter, she and her crew took off on their buses for a Thursday show in Iowa. “They’re loaded and they’re outside ready to roll,” she said.

Presenting Taj Mahal with his performance award, Keb’ Mo’ said, “He was world music before there was such a thing.”.

Ry Cooder spoke of hearing norteño near the Texas-Mexico border for the first time and discovering the music of Flaco Jimenez, the recipient of the instrumentalist award. Cooder performed twice during the ceremony, with Jimenez and Rodney Crowell.

Accepting the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech of Music Award, Jackson Browne said he was honored to receive something that had previously gone to Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, among others. “It’s part of the American character to say what you believe — it just is,” he said, before performing The Long Way Around and bringing out J.D. Souther for Fountain of Sorrow.

Emcee Jim Lauderdale opened the night singing Willie Dixon’s You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover with musical director Buddy Miller, who also was named instrumentalist of the year.

The show included additional performances by award winners Sturgill Simpson and the Milk Carton Kids, as well as Robert Plant and Patty Griffin, Rosanne Cash, Parker Millsap, The Devil Makes Three, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Valerie June, Robert Ellis, Sarah Jarosz, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Cassandra Wilson and Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives.

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Here’s a full list of the Americana Music Honors & Awards 2014 winners:.

Album:Southeastern, Jason Isbell; producer Dave CobbArtist: Jason IsbellDuo/Group: The Milk Carton KidsSong:Cover Me Up, Jason IsbellEmerging Artist: Sturgill SimpsonInstrumentalist: Buddy MillerSpirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award: Jackson BrowneLifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist: Flaco JimenezLifetime Achievement for Performance: Taj MahalLifetime Achievement Award for Songwriter: Loretta LynnPresident’s Award: Jimmie Rodgers.