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Thread: ACM Honors Awards

  1. #1
    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    ACM Honors Awards

    This show was held yesterday at the Ryman, in Nashville - it represents the part of the ACM annual awards that wasn't featured on network television earlier in the year (and freed from those constraints, it is able to feature some core Country material.) On what I've been able to see, the performances were really good. I do wish that the TV audience had the chance to see more of this side of the genre!

    These are some of the key points:

    Kelsea Ballerini presented the musician awards for Studio Recording (a big honour for her, but deserved in my opinion, for the strong songwriting and performance experience I've seen in her best work)

    Drummer: Greg Morrow
    Guitar Player: Tom Bukovac
    Piano / Keyboard: Michael Rojas
    Steel Guitar: Dan Dugmore
    Specialty Instrument: Ilya Toshinsky
    Bass: Glenn Worf
    Audio Engineer: Chuck Ainlay
    Producer: Jay Joyce

    (Of main interest to Carrie fans is probably the Producer award going to Jay Joyce. His influence in the Progressive Roots end of the genre is considerable, making him a strong choice for parts of her new album. He was also a nominee for Producer of the Year at the last Grammys, but missed out on the win in a strong all-genre field.

    Glenn Worf and Chuck Ainley each produced parts of "Platinum", which was Country Album of the Year at each of the three main award shows.)


    Luke Bryan won the Gene Weed Award for Special Achievement - the citation stressing his achievement in gaining six number ones off the same album. Randy Houser performed the tribute song, "Roller Coaster" (which I haven't seen). In his acceptance speech, Luke joked that Blake Shelton wouldn't be able to upstage him, and said that the TV show doesn't give you a chance to thank the bar owners, bus and truck drivers, and caterers who make it all possible.

    Another performance I would have liked to see (but haven't yet) was Chris Isaak's version of the Rockabilly classic, "Bye Bye Love" - performed as a posthumous tribute to Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who shared the Poet's Award.

    The other recipient of this award was Bob McDill. (Coincidentaly, I posted about one of his songs yesterday, when I mentioned Morgane Hayes Stapleton's unusual female version of "Amanda") - but Bob is one of the great writers, whose appreciation reaches beyond his hit songs. Sir Vidiadhar S Naiipaul, the Trinidadian writer and Nobel Prize Winner, featured Bob in his elegy of the American South, mainly because of his song "Good Ole Boys Like Me". That song reminds me of some of the discussion in Carrie's album thread, because it explores the issue of people balancing the abiding influence of their home background against satisfying the expectations of the wider world. It mentions the question of accent, and learning 'to talk like the man on the six o'clock news.' Basically the song reminds us that 'we're all gonna be what we're gonna be', but we are still shaped by the influences we grew up with. The song was performed at this show by Josh Turner.

    Carrie's label was recalled in the Mae Boren Axton Award, shared by Tim Dubois, who ran Arista for more than ten years in the '80s and '90. He also played a big part in steering the careers of Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn. Restless Heart performed his tribute song "The Bluest Eyes In Texas".
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    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    The first of the performances that I have managed to see is, unfortunately, not complete - but it sounded very good!

    It's Kacey Musgraves, honouring Luke Laird, who won Songwriter of the Year (Luke was also co-producer of Kacey's albums)
    The tribute song "Good Ol Boys Club" (co-written by Luke, on Pageant Material) has a general meaning about unfair success in life through connections - but it can also be taken to apply particularly to the dominance of male party songs on chart radio:
    "Another gear in a big machine don't sound like fun to me
    Don't wanna be a part of the good ol' boys club"





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    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    The Jim Reeves International Award went to Eric Church, on the basis of his extensive European tour. The full tribute and acceptance speech can be seen.

    The tribute was performed by the phenomenal, but in my view shamefully neglected, Holly Williams, with a stripped down version of “Like Jesus Does”

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    Insane Carrie Fan abbeyjones18's Avatar
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    ET played some of Miranda's performance of Rated X in honor of Miss Loretta. Sounded pretty good.
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    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    The final award was the Crystal Milestone, given to the great Loretta Lynn (now 83), who accepted with a witty comment that she'd come to check whether Miranda Lambert was still doing Country, and ended her thanks for the award with "you can give me another one next year!"

    Miranda performed the tribute song "Rated X" - presumably chosen by the organizers, like the other songs - which led to inevitable comments about her own divorce, which she alluded to in her comments, and which has given the press an obvious theme for their reporting of the show. The song - originally from the '70s - was banned by some radio stations - but addresses the issues of escape from a failing marriage and the effects on a woman's reputation.
    "Well if you've been a married woman and things didn't seem to work out
    Divorce is the key to bein' loose and free so you're gonna be talked about"


    Miranda looked relaxed, and pretty stunning in her pink dress. She talked about Loretta's empowerment, and the affection between the two singers was clear


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    ^I couldn't think of anyone better to honor Loretta, imo, as I find Miranda's style closely tied in with the former as being bold both lyrically and musically.

    I'm curious to know that if the organizers did hand out the songs for each tribute, why they settled on Rated X for Miranda when that lyric is such a dominate one (especially given her own personal troubles)?
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    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    As there's been peripheral discussion in other threads about issues associated with Miranda's performance of "Rated X", I should point out that Holly Williams confirmed in an interview that artists didn't choose the tribute songs they performed, but were allocated them, with apparently fairly short notice. (She didn't specify a time period - in the case of the Grammys, I understand that artists are given about two weeks to prepare tribute songs, but I don't know if the ACM follow a similar pattern)

    I don't know whether the honorees are consulted by the organizers as to which song they would like to have performed in their tribute, but in Loretta's case, it wouldn't surprise me. Her tribute album, which came out a few years ago, was based on hand-written notes that she sent to the artists. She seemed to be making a definite attempt to make it inclusive of the different styles of Country Music, different generations, and even different political persuasions. On that occasion "Rated X" was sung by the White Stripes (Jack White had worked with Loretta on her modernizing and innovative project "Van Lear Rose"). Carrie sang "You're Looking at Country" - which could be taken as a pointed riposte to some of Carrie's critics. Miranda closed the album, with Loretta herself, and Sheryl Crow, - singing Lorettta's autobiographical signature tune "Coal Miner's Daughter".

    It does seem clear that Loretta admires Miranda - on the Red Carpet she called Miranda one of her favourite Country singers, and said she has watched her career develop. Jake Owen (who was hosting this event) described Loretta as Miranda's friend and mentor - which may be a suitably polite phrase, but still covers the undoubted fact that Loretta's work has influenced Miranda's, both thematically and stylistically.

    If Loretta did indeed approve this particular choice of song, I think it would be characteristic of her attitude. "Rated X" describes divorce non-judgmentally, saying that when a marriage does not work out, leaving it can give a woman more freedom. It goes on to discuss the fact that divorce will make women a talking point, give them a reputation, and cause both men and other women to jump to conclusions about them.

    I'm glad that Miranda didn't refuse to sing the song (as some have suggested she might). Confronting it - and by implication, the gossip site coverage - is more in line with Loretta's approach to issues of this sort - and with Miranda's own. As it was, I think she approached the song with charm, humour and a loyalty to its style and inspiration.

    Miranda has commented before that she doesn't really like some of the "showcase" TV events, which tend to over-stage the performances, shorten the songs, and alter the feel of the music. I think this event - which seems to have been closer to a normal live music concert presentation, with more emphasis on honouring the music, and less on extraneous "glitz" - enabled her to really get into the performance in the way she wanted. I would rate it among her best.
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