2011 Americana Music Award Nominees Announced

Elizabeth Cook on the stove

Here’s the announced list for Americana Music Association Honors and Nominees: The ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, October 13 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  My comments follow each category…

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Band of Joy, Robert Plant
Welder, Elizabeth Cook
Harlem River Blues, Justin Townes Earle
Blessed, Lucinda Williams

ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Buddy Miller
Elizabeth Cook
Hayes Carll
Robert Plant

NEW/EMERGING ARTIST OF THE YEAR
The Civil Wars
Mumford And Sons
The Secret Sisters
Jessica Lea Mayfield

DUO/GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Avett Brothers
The Civil Wars
Mumford And Sons
Robert Plant and the Band Of Joy

SONG OF THE YEAR
Decemberists with Gillian Welch- “Down By The Water”
Elizabeth Cook – “El Camino”
Hayes Carll – “Kmag Yoyo”
Justin Townes Earle – “Harlem River Blues”

INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
Buddy Miller
Gurf Morlix
Kenny Vaughan
Sarah Jarosz
Will Kimbrough

E Street Band’s Clarence Clemons Dies

As a music fan, I understand that if we live long enough, it is inevitable that we lose some of our heroes.  Clarence Clemons wasn’t so much a hero to me, as an icon in rock and roll music – a symbol of power, spirituality, and an undefinable and immeasurably important piece of the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band  equation.  A link to the rock sax sounds of the 50’s and 60’s; a bodyguard to the band, even in failing health. 

Springsteen introduced him last at shows for a reason: because he was the Big Man.  We understood, and waited for Clarence to raise his sax into air and let loose a shout. Bruce would plant a kiss on the Big Man’s lips at the end of “Thunder Road”, sliding across the stage on his knees as Clarence finished the song with a sax solo.  It was a beautiful representation of the power of loyalty and love. 

Clemons died Saturday night after suffering a stroke on June 12.  He was 69.  And the rock and roll feels different tonight.   How exactly?  To be honest, I am not sure.  Other musicians, from U2 to Bon Jovi  to Eddie Vedder, seem to sense it too – all three heard about his passing while playing their own concerts, and immediately paid tribute from the stage Saturday night. 

It’s feels like we have lost a man who seemed to make those around him better, sometimes by playing, and sometimes just by being close. Larger than life?  That seems to fit pretty damn well. 

And maybe he was.  Maybe now he is playing his King Curtis-inspired riffs someplace else. 

God, I hope so. 

Jungleland – September 19, 1978