The roots of traditional country music took center stage at the fourth annual Ameripolitan Awards on Wednesday. The ceremony, held at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin, Texas, honored the artists, DJs, venues and producers who keep Ameripolitan music alive.
What's Ameripolitan? Dale Watson, the show's founder, created the genre name to protect the sub-genres of country music that don't get mainstream recognition. Those styles include Rockabilly, Western Swing, Outlaw and Honky-Tonk. Each sub-genre has three awards for best male, female and group.
Watson co-hosted the show with Ray Benson. The pair jokingly referred to themselves as "country music's Smothers Brothers." Together, they kept the crowd laughing and in good spirits throughout the evening. They are also our guests on the Wide Open Country Podcast this week.
The Ameripolitan Awards also includes two legacy honors, the Master Award and Keeper of the Key, an honor that recognizes a legacy artist who champions Ameripolitan music. Junior Brown won the Keeper of the Key for his influential talents and genre-bending music. Continental Club owner Steve Wertheimer introduced Brown with a story about how he stunned audiences in Austin during in his early career.
Rockabilly icon Jerry Lee received the Master Award, but could not attend the ceremony in person. He spoke to the crowd via video at the end of the ceremony. In the main lobby, there was a petition to get Lewis inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Watson told the audience that Lewis has wished he would someday be inducted.
2017 Ameripolitan Winners
Master Award - Jerry Lee Lewis
Keeper of the Key - Junior Brown
Honky Tonk Female - Leona Williams
Honky Tonk Male - Jake Penrod
Honky Tonk Group - Gary P. Nunn and the Bunkhouse Band
Rockabilly Female - Lara Hope
Rockabilly Male - Lance Lipinsky
Rockabilly Group - The Silvershakers
Outlaw Female - Darci Carlson
Outlaw Male - Hank3
Outlaw Group - Dallas Moore Band
Western Swing Female - Kristyn Harris
Western Swing Male - Pokey LaFarge
Western Swing Group - The Western Flyers
Venue - Lil' Red's Longhorn Saloon
Festival - Nashville Boogie
DJ - James Riley
Musician - Chris Casello