Close this search box.

Stay up to date

Subscribe to our weekly
e-newsletter for news and updates

Advertise with us


Shane and Myra Howard by Jason Rosewarne

Review Greg Phillips. Photos Jason Rosewarne

The 2nd annual Australian American Honours took place last night at its spiritual home, The Thornbury Theatre in Melbourne. It’s our own version the much respected Americana Honors & Awards Show, which is held annually in Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville’s own country gent, the dapper Joshua Hedley and The Hedliners kicked off the evening with a couple of authentic cowpokin’ compositions. Comperes Triple R’s Denise Hyland and Jed Hilly from the Americana Music Association began with the obligatory explanation of what Americana actually is. Jed’s version is that “If it sounds like dirt in your ears, then it’s Americana!”

With his bushranger vibe and steely stare, William Crighton’s stage presence is imposing. His accounts of rural Australia, of characters and the land are mesmerising. The Weeping Willows were fresh off a plane from America to participate in tonight’s event but had no trouble clicking straight into their perfect harmonies and sweet melodies. The Willows’ Andrew and Laura joined US crooner Kevin Welch soon after to assist in some heartfelt backing vocals. Welch closes his eyes and feels every note and lyric he delivers in the telling of his tales.

In the first of two Americana Vanguard Awards presented for the night, broadcaster and publisher Brian Wise was recognised for his dedication to roots music. Brian has been a longtime preacher of roots music through both his internationally acclaimed magazine Rhythms and much lauded radio show on 3RR, Off The Record. On a personal level, Brian was also a great mentor to myself during my time with Rhythms in the publication’s early days. The Vanguard Award is a fitting accolade.

Kasey Chambers is always a welcome sight and personifies what Australian Americana is all about. Backed by legendary Alan Pigram of The Pigram brothers’ fame on mandolin and Brandon Dodd on guitar, Kasey’s spot on stage tonight was unbelievable. In an all too short set that would make Janis Joplin look meek, Kasey tore at our heartstrings and delivered an incredibly passionate performance.

Following Kasey was always going to tough, but Little Georgia, featuring Justin Carter and Ashleigh Mannix dug their heels in and produced an energetic and engaging set. Encompassing the all-inclusive roots ethos of Americana, Diesel took to the stage for a powerful blast of blues-based rock. Talented songstress Imogen Clark joined the guitar slinger for a vibrant rendition of Gimme Saturday Night, from his new album Diesel 30.

As with each Australian American Honours night, two Vanguard Awards are presented and it was time for Jed Hilly to announce the second honouree, iconic Australian singer- songwriter Shane Howard. Shane’s incredible body of work from the Goanna band to solo works and his links to and promotion of indigenous artists, has made him one of the most respected artists in Australian music history. We shouldn’t have been surprised that such a gifted wordsmith would deliver one of the most poignant acceptance speeches we’d ever heard but it still blew everyone away. In a beautiful monologue, Shane explained that all songs are derived in some way from people who have come before us and places we may never have been. Bob Dylan borrowed from the Irish he told us and when Shane finds himself at an outback campfire, the locals are singing the songs of great American storytellers. The songs travel and the stories are passed on an this is why it’s ok to celebrate Americana in the cities of Australia. When it’s all said and done, Americana is an international community of kindred spirits celebrating life through shared music and stories. Shane backed up his sage words with a couple of wonderful tunes, highlighted by his daughter Myra on vocals.

Acclaimed American singer songwriter Margo Price, who is in Australia on a national tour closed the evening and showed why she has become one of the most sought after artists for festival appearances worldwide. With her unique character filled voice and a band of skilled musicians, Price was a befitting choice to close what had already been a night of exceptionally fine music.



Share this