Recap: Ameripolitan Music Weekend & Awards in Memphis Tennessee -By: Ed Conway

Written by on March 1, 2023

Well, I’ve finally recovered from a wild weekend of music at the Ameripolitan Music Weekend & Awards.  Unsatisfied with the direction of Nashville’s country music, singer/songwriter, and great guitarist, Dale Watson decided to brand his own music as Ameripolitan.  In looking around, he quickly realized there was a lot of American Roots music not adequately represented in the mainstream (or at all, for that matter).  So, back in 2013, he, and his wife Celine Lee, wanted to create an event that recognized these artists, thus the Ameripolitan Awards were born.  Originally staged in Austin, Texas in 2014, it was moved to Memphis back in 2018.  Along with the award show, the weekend included two full nights of music, showcasing many of the artists who were nominated in the four main music categories of Outlaw, Western Swing, Honky Tonk and Rockabilly (each of which is further broken down into Male, Female and Group) as well as some special awards, such as Musician, Venue and Career (see below for list of winners).

Arriving at the Guesthouse At Graceland, the site of all the showcases and award ceremony, at nearly 4AM on Friday morning, we weren’t sure what to expect of the weekend sleepwise.  Well, we were right about the lack of sleep, but only because we didn’t want to miss anything.  Many of our friends were nominees and, therefore, performers and we simply loved their showcases. Although it shouldn’t be a surprise, what I found was how much I loved the showcases of the performers I had never heard of before that weekend.  One of my highlights, of many, was finally getting to see Kinky Friedman perform.  He displayed his wry humor, performed some songs with host Dale Watson and others and even read one of his poems.  Split between two stages, I found myself running between the two rooms photographing and enjoying as many artists as possible.  While I was getting several thousand steps of exercise, rather than feel tired, I found myself buoyed by the high level of talent.  By the time of the awards, I found the production company, headed by 2015 Rockabilly Male winner James Intveld, more than sufficiently covered the ceremony so I was able to sit and enjoy the proceedings quietly with my wife.  

There was also a Fashion Show from several designers.  There were so many wonderful designs, it’s hard to pick out a favorite, but a crocheted Waffle House dress, modeled by Celine Lee, certainly stood out in my mind, since we don’t have one near us.  But all the models, made up of many of the nominees, did a terrific job representing the ideas of the designers they represented.

We had such a great time, we can’t wait until next year.  Dale, Celine, Emily, and the rest of the staff and volunteers for making it a truly special weekend. While I didn’t get to see every nominee, each and every one that I did catch, were wonderful.  Check out the winners, listed below, I think you will find a new favorite.  Also, check out the website at for a list of the nominees, again, I think you will find some new favorites there as well.

The Winners

Honky Tonk Female – Summer Dean

Honky Tonk Male – Jeremy Pinnell

Honky Tonk Group – Croy & The Boys

Outlaw Female – Rachel Brooke

Outlaw Male – Scott H Biram

Outlaw Group – Jenny Don’t & The Spurs

Rockabilly Female – Jane Rose

Rockabilly Male – Nic Roulette

Rockabilly Group – The Hi-Jivers

Western Swing Female – Sierra Ferrell

Western Swing Male – Wild Earp

Western Swing Group – The Lucky Stars

Musician – Katie Shore

DJ – Jimi Palacios

Venue – Rattlesnake Saloon (Germany)

Festival – Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance

Founders Of The Sound – The Adams Brothers

Keeper Of The Key – Nick Curran

Master Award – Johnny Rodriguez

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