Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Awards Find Community Support in Memphis
Dale Watson founded the Ameripolitan Awards in 2014, in order to recognize artists whose music, according to the awards show's website, "does not readily conform to the tastes of today's 'country' or other music genres and organizations." Each year, the show honors acts such as Asleep at the Wheel, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cody Jinks, Nikki Lane, and more musicians whose work is often bypassed by country radio and mainstream awards shows within the genre.
Until 2018, the annual event took place in Watson's hometown of Austin, Texas. However, after the singer-songwriter began to spend more time in Memphis, Tenn., he decided to move the show there, in honor of the city's history of roots music and the blues. At the time, Watson explained in a statement that it had always been his vision to see the Ameripolitan Awards take place in a variety of different host cities.
One year after the first Ameripolitan Awards took place in Memphis, Watson tells The Boot that the community he found in Memphis changed his experience of curating the show. "I met all these different people from the city of Memphis," he notes, "and they ... said, 'Look, how can we help make it happen?'
"Which was very different than in my own hometown of Austin," Watson points out. "You know, I love Austin. I did it here for the first four years, but Memphis actually held out a hand to try to help me. And they did it consistently."
That experience, he says, made every step of the process much simpler. "It's been a lot easier," Watson goes on to say. "They had open arms, welcomed the awards show there. It's been a really good marriage."
Watson attributes the community's enthusiasm for the Ameripolitan Awards to an ingrained reverence for live music and a desire to preserve its own musical heritage.
"It's about the music. That's what it's solely about," he says. "They really want live music. And it's the whole weekend, you know? It starts on Friday and ends up on the awards show on Monday -- where it goes into the after-party! But it's nothing but a whole weekend of live music, original music, all over town."
The 2019 Ameripolitan Awards Weekend is set to kick off in Memphis on Friday (Feb. 22). The show itself will take place on Monday (Feb. 25). For tickets, go here.