Ameripolitan 2023: The 5 Best Things We Saw on Friday
The women of country and western music wowed on day one of the Ameripolitan Music Awards festivities in Memphis with their over-the-top outfits, wit, and — of course — their music. From honky tonk to outlaw, western swing, doo-wop and more, there was a flavor of country music on display to appease everyone’s musical appetite and two-step to.
Here are the five best things we saw on day one of the 2023 Ameripolitan weekend.
With her blend of old-school soul, blues, and jazz, it was almost as if vintage pinup Tammi Savoy hopped in a time machine from the 1950s to make it to Ameripolitan. The Chicago native won the Ameripolitan Award for Rockabilly Female of the Year in 2019, an accomplishment clearly not lost on those in attendance as they danced along to songs like “Finders Keepers,” Varetta Dillard’s “I Can’t Stop Now” and LuLu Reed’s “What Makes You So Cold.”
Next to Savoy, Michigander Rachel Brooke had easily the most nostalgic set of the night. With a warble akin to that of 2020 Honky Tonk Male of the Year winner Charley Crockett, she sang about everything from feeling alone (“The Loneliness in Me”) to the complex relationship with her home (“Home is Where the Heartache Is”). However, the top highlight of her show came during a cover of Hank Williams’ “Settin’ the Woods on Fire,” which brought her classic country and modern influences into one, showing why she’s currently one of the brightest up-and-coming talents in the world of honky tonk.
Donning blue jeans and a tube top emblazoned with the state flag of Texas, Honky Tonk Female of the Year nominee Summer Dean performed a mix of originals and covers while also finding time to joke about green bean casserole acting as a currency to get into the Lone Star State’s most prestigious honky tonks and playing the Grand Ole Opry (“I’m working on booking it, I didn’t say that I did!”). Jokes aside, it was Dean’s music taking up the majority of the spotlight on renditions of “Hey Mister,” “Blue Jean Country Queen,” and reimaginations of Leona Williams’ “Yes Ma’am, He Found Me in a Honky Tonk” and Tammy Wynette’s “Apartment #9.”
Much like Brooke, Hannah Juanita performed unreleased songs and cuts from her full-length debut, The Hardliner, that illustrate her no B.S. attitude and lyricism that have helped to make her a staple of Nashville’s honky tonk scene. During her brief time at the helm, the Chattanooga-born artist dished out performances of “Call Yourself My Man” and “I’m Gonna Leave You” that showed off her confidence and willingness to speak her mind, further reinforcing why she’s nominated at this year’s awards for Honky Tonk Female of the Year.
Bringing a taste of California country to Ameripolitan was Emily Nenni, who put an emphatic wrap on the Nashville Sounds round that also featured Juanita, Timbo Lo and Kristina Murray. Making appearances were several songs from On the Ranch, her New West Records debut out in November, including its title track about her time spent on a Colorado farm during the pandemic. Also slipped in was a performance of “Long Game,” a song included on a 2020 EP of the same name, that lays out the importance of rolling with the punches and letting what’s meant to happen in due time rather than trying to force it. No matter what Nenni’s singing about, her wisdom and work ethic shine through, showing that the sky is truly the limit for this country queen.