Everyone was a winner at The AMA-UK Awards last night. As AmericanaFest UK 2020 drew to a close, thoughts turned to who won what at the glittering ceremony inside London’s Troxy… but then it hit us: it just doesn’t matter. Looking around a room filled with wonderful songwriters, brilliant broadcasters, tireless supporters and progressive patriots of Americana, it occurs that the community and genre itself is always the real winner at AmericanaFest UK.

A gathering of the clans, this year’s festivities were notable for some truly stunning live music and the performances at the awards show proved no different. Black Deer-bound The Felice Brothers and The Milk Carton Kids brought the house down with some righteous roots and stunning harmonies respectively, while an all-star romp through ‘Rock Island Line’, featuring Jonathan Wilson and Billy Bragg, was a fitting tribute to the late Legend Award winner Lonnie Donegan, who was represented by his son Peter. Elles Bailey opened the show with a lovely touch of country soul, Amy Speace treated us to a stunning take of her International Song of The Year triumph ‘Me and The Ghost of Charlemagne’ and Black Deer 2019 favourites Ferris & Sylvester delivered a blistering take on the stunning ‘Sickness’.

Before the awards show, however, there was still some business to be talked at AmericanaFest and we particularly enjoyed the morning panel featuring Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett and The Sound Lounge’s Hannah White, focusing on keeping the Americana live scene thriving. It was a lively debate with talk around grassroots venues and promoters dominating and how the music industry needs to support all areas of its eco-system for emerging artists to find a path. With a panel following discussing the secrets to artists getting their songs synced on TV and in movies, those present were left with the knowledge that even though the Americana community is one of the most supportive out there, vigilance and philanthropy are still very much needed to keep the flag flying.

Watching artists such as Jade Bird, Yola and Siân Monaghan winning awards later in the evening offered living proof of how great music can survive, thrive and maybe even swim the mainstream with the right opportunities. ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris is one such provider of said opportunities and the broadcasting legend – who was hosting the ceremony – was surprised by The AMA-UK with an Outstanding Contribution Award later on, before emerging hero Shingai led the tributes to Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Joan Armatrading, and the night’s performers arrived back on-stage for the final curtain call and a mass sing-a-long.

During AmericanaFest, we’ve been speaking to artists, labels and managers and asking them what the word ‘Americana’ means to them. Not one answer has been repeated. But there has been one word used constantly as people grapple with the question: community. And so say all of us…
Quote of the day

“I wasn’t expecting that… ”
– ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris.

Song of the day

– Ferris & Sylvester.

Read about Day One and Day Two.