BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM
I always define the amorphous Americana Music genre as, “music we like,” and there’s no one we love more than John Prine.
BMI added a new bloom to the Americana Music Week bouquet by presenting Prine with its Troubadour Award on Monday evening (Sept. 10). Let’s face it, this guy was “Americana” before there even was such a genre.
BMI’s Jody Williams described the honoree as, “one of the most inspiring songwriters this country has ever produced,” before introducing a parade of awesome Americana talents to sing Prine’s songs.
Brandy Clark offered an exquisite “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.” Gillian Welch & David Rawlings provided a wry rendition of “Big Ol’ Goofy World,” with customized lyrics saluting Prine. Brandi Carlile delivered a bluesy “Angel From Montgomery.”
Kacey Musgraves was a crowd favorite with her Latin-flavored “I Just Want to Dance With You.” Robert Earl Keen was aching and weary and devastating on “Hello In There.”
In 2015, Keen was BMI’s inaugural winner of the Troubadour honor. So he helped to present Prine with the award.
“I don’t know any man, woman or child who doesn’t love John Prine,” Keen said. “Your songs are as much a part of my music brain as ‘America the Beautiful,’ ‘The Happy Wanderer’ and ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart.’ Your songs are magic to me. Thanks for your gift of music.”
“Thank you, everybody,” said Prine. “I appreciate all the people who sang my songs. They were all beautiful. They still move me, after all these years.”
He thanked his late manager and business partner Al Bunetta, the folks who run his Oh Boy! Records label and his wife, Fiona.
“Thank y’all very much,” he added to the crowd. “I appreciate it deeply.”
And what a crowd it was. You could hardly turn around without bumping into a gifted song person or three. Shawn Camp, Hayes Carll, Roger Cook, Emmylou Harris, Paul Kennerley, John Paul White, Bob Delevante, John Hiatt, Pat McLaughlin, The Stryker Brothers, Keith Sykes, John Oates, Fats Kaplan, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas and Tyler Mahan Coe mingled on the patio during a balmy-eve cocktail hour.
“It’s a deep schmooze,” observed Jeff Hanna. “A quality schmooze,” added Matraca Berg. “An A-List schmooze,” I echoed.
“This is a homecoming for all of BMI’s Americana family,” Jody explained. “Where the next generation of songwriters will find inspiration, it will come from the songwriters in this room. The Troubadour Award is BMI’s way of honoring our best. They truly stand as beacons to the greater songwriting community.”
The actual award was a vintage silver loving cup. Prine was also given a custom C.F. Martin mahogany guitar.
Another highlight of the presentation was an extremely well written and clever appreciation delivered by Peter Cooper.
Maurice Miner, Mark Moffatt, Mark Brown, Mike Grimes, Megan Barry, David Macias, Dave Cobb, Steve Buchanan, Steve Fishell & Tracy Gershon, John Allen, John Esposito, Juli Thanki, Jay Orr, Jed Hilly, Joseph Hudak, Bobby Cudd, Ben Vaughn, Troy Tomlinson, Patrick Clifford, Katherine Richardson, Garth Fundis, Ken Levitan and Earle Simmons enjoyed all of this, plus a succulent roast beef banquet.
“This is such a special week,” said BMI’s Mason Hunter. “We’re so proud to kick it off.”