This story is developing. Find all the winners and photos below.
It all started back in 2013 when Blake Shelton though he’d twist off on the fans of classic country music by calling them “Old Farts & Jackasses” and insulted the idea that the roots of country music should be preserved. Dale Watson took it personally, and instead of complaining about it, decided to do something.
Under the maxim of “When opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door,” the Ameripolitan Awards were born to promote music with a prominent roots influence often ignored by the rest of the music industry. First held in Austin for a few years before moving to Memphis—and then in dry dock for the last couple of years due to the pandemic—the Ameripolitan Awards returned on Sunday, February 19th at the Guesthouse at Graceland theater in Memphis.
Big winners on the night included Sierra Ferrell, who won the first award on the night for Western Swing Female, with Wild Earp and The Lucky Stars also winning in the category. Many-time nominee Scott H. Biram finally won for Outlaw Male, Jenny Don’t and the Spurs won for Outlaw Group, and Rachel Brooke won for Outlaw Female.
“I’ve never won anything before,” Rachel Brooke said. “They won’t even give me a gold card at the bank … I won’t let you down.”
Jeremy Pinnell took Honky Tonk Male, with Summer Dean winning the Female Awards, and giving the acceptance speech of the night, saying he was proud to win an award with the terms “Honky Tonk” and “Female” in the title, and thanks farmers for keeping us fed and clothed. “God bless Texas, and God bless country music!” she said. Austin mainstays Croy and the Boys won Honky Tonk Group.
Ameripolitan is all about awarding the people who deserve awards, but never won them, and that was a theme for the night. Musician of the Year Katie Shore also won her first award ever. “I never played with Johnny Rodriguez before either,” Katie said in her acceptance speech.
Other winners in non performer awards were DJ Jimi Palacios, Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance won for Festival of the Year, and a venue in Munich, Germany called the Rattlesnake Saloon won for Venue of the Year.
For years it was customary for country legend James Hand to open the show. James passed away in 2020, so that honor fell to Brennen Leigh, Melissa Carper, and Katie Shore formerly of Asleep at the Wheel singing “Tell Him I’m Dead.”
Throwback country artist Jake Penrod, rockabilly artist Georgia Parker, rockabilly group the Hi-Jivers, the “King of Juke Joint Swing” Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Chuck Mead and Joey Simeone of BR549 and the Bellfuries respectively, Eleanor and Bonnie Whitmore aka The Whitmore Sisters, and others also performed during the awards show.
Along with the annual winners, there were also the Lifetime Achievement recipients. This included the 71-year-old country music legend Johnny Rodriguez receiving the Master Award. Rodriguez received no less than four standing ovations during his speech and performances.
Old school rock and rockabilly legend Nick Curran receiving the Keeper of the Key Award marking the 10th Anniversary of his passing. Rodriguez performed with his daughter Aubry.
Also, The Adams Brothers out of Ohio who helped form the backing bands for folks such as Johnny Paycheck and George Jones were honored with the Founder of the Sound Award. Gary H. Adams passed away in 2022, but brothers Don and Arnie were on hand to accept the award. Saving Country Music contributor and commenter Kevin Smith was key to making the accolade happen.
The awards were hosted by Big Sandy and Grey DeLisle, who everyone in attendance will attest did a stellar job, and created many hilarious moments. Celine Lee and Dale Watson also deserve big credit for a successful year.
The awards are a culmination of a whole weekend of festivities that transpired in Memphis. A full recap of all the happenings and performances from the 2023 Ameripolitan weekend is forthcoming. In the meantime, you can check out SCM on Instagram where many top performances were highlighted.
2023 Ameripolitan Awards Winners
HONKY TONK FEMALES:
Summer Dean – WINNER
HONKY TONK MALES:
Garrett T. Capps
Jeremy Pinnell – WINNER
HONKY TONK GROUPS:
Cory Grinder & The Playboy Scouts
Croy and the Boys – WINNER
Rachel Brooke – WINNER
IV and the Strange Band
Scott H. Biram – WINNER
Vincent Neil Emerson
Dallas Moore Band
Jenny Don’t And The Spurs – WINNER
The Rhyolite Sound
The Whitmore Sisters
WESTERN SWING FEMALE:
Sierra Ferrell – WINNER
WESTERN SWING MALE:
A Jay Wade
Wild Earp – WINNER
WESTERN SWING GROUP
The Southwest Biscuit Company
West Of Texas
Western Swing Authority
The Lucky Stars – WINNER
Amy Griffin on Guitar
Jane Rose – WINNER
Nick Roulette – WINNER
Sean K. Preston
The Hi-Jivers – WINNER
The Phantom Shakers
Daniel Mason – Banjo
Katie Shore – Fiddle – WINNER
Kullen Fox – Trumpet + Piano
Mike Bernal – Drums
T Jarrod Bonta – Piano
Celia Villagran – Texas Hellkitten Radio
Jimi Palacios – Country Du Monde – WINNER
Kevin Martinez – COLONEL PACO CHAOS PACOBILLY HOUR
MARIVI YUBERO GARCIA – Marivipolitan
Del Villarreal Go Kat, GO! The Rock-A-Billy Show!
Knuckleheads, Kansas City, Missouri
Rattlesnake Saloon – Munich, Germany – WINNER
Roosters Country – Mesa, AZ
The Southgate House Revival – Newport, KY
Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance – Taos, NM – WINNER
Western Swing Out – Tehachapi, CA
Vintage Torque Fest – Dubuque, IA
Zoofest – Lincoln, NE
MORE PHOTOS COMING….