Review of the 2023 UK Americana Awards

Thank you to all at the AMAUK and Claire at Horton PR for giving me the opportunity to attend the glittering red carpet Americana Awards held at the historical and visually stunning Hackney Empire. 

The venue still encompasses the energy of decades of talent and I am nostalgic as I remember seeing the now well known faces of acts and artists grace this stage when I was a little girl. This was my first time to the AMAUK Awards and the Americana Fest and I was delighted to be part of their ten year anniversary awards night and to experience the buzz of the festival. Industry conferences ran throughout the four days giving delegates the chance to learn and develop from a plethora of gifted and experienced speakers.

The festival itself was exhilarating; the set up was well organised, the acts were of the highest calibre and care and attention had been taken in every aspect by the organiser Stevie Smith. The venues were vibrant, fresh and staff were clearly happy to be there. The sound was excellently handled in all venues and I was in awe of how well attended each of the performances were at every spot. The audience were engaged, involved and it was a joy to see a consistently happy crowd.

The showcase of artists throughout the Awards night were led by legends of royalty on the worldwide Americana scene; Whispering Bob Harris and Baylen Leonard. We were treated to opening performances from The Heavy Heavy, a five-piece harmonic folk band who set the stage with their melodic tones. Simeon Hammond Dallas is an outstanding songwriter and vocalist known as the ‘wickedly-badass pint-sized powerhouse‘ and lord did she deliver on her stunning song ‘Make it Romantic‘. 

Ferris and Sylvester, the partnership duo who set the stage alight with their rocky flare and fiery presence; these two can sing anything together. Next we had a stunning trio made up of Elles Bailey, Allison Russell, and Miko Marks, who gave us an incredible version of Songwriter Legacy Award Winner Loretta Lynn’s ‘Coalminers Daughter’. Their voices worked together beautifully and they are shone like stars as we were treated to three of some of the finest vocals Americana has to offer. 

Bob’s Emerging Artist Award winners ‘The Hanging Stars’, appeared up next and their tight guitar licks and musicality was refreshing. Frank Turner delivered a thought provoking performance of ‘A Wave Across A Bay‘ with hard hitting lyrics; a moving song indeed. Allison Russell was joined by the exquisite Lady Nade and together they delivered a stunning duet of ‘You’re Not Alone’ and were followed gracefully by an inspiring address from the chief organiser and creator Stevie. Nickel Creek drifted in and brought a whole new flavour to the genre with their harmonic melodies and clever riffs and hooks. 

The International Lifetime Achievement Award went to the acclaimed Grammy Award Winner Judy Collins who gave us a rendition of her classic hit ‘Both Sides Now‘. Then we flipped over to the rock side of Americana when Mike Scott of The Waterboys fame accepted his UK Lifetime Achievement Award and took us back to his 90’s release ‘Fisherman Blues‘.

The grand finale came when all artists united on the stage and were sneakily joined by the Hackney Empire Community Choir who were interspersed in the grand circle seats and suddenly took their place on the balcony and joined Judy in leading ‘Amazing Grace‘. This was quite literally a moment you wouldn’t forget. Classic and budding talent all flooding the stage and showcasing their skills, harmonies and eclectic flavours filled the ears of the audience.

An additional delight to the evening came from a star studded revolving door of reigning media, music and radio personalities such as Ben Earle of The Shires, Ward Thomas, Patrick Kielty, and a highlight for me was seeing Robert Plant grace the stage when accepting his International Album of the Year award. 

They were also joined by Martyn Joseph, Robert Elms, Shaun Keaveny, Katherine Priddy, Tim Dowling, Lauren Down and Bev Whitrick, Ricky Ross, Belinda O’Hooley & Heidi Tidow, Paul Gambaccini, Andy Facer from Sweet Home Alabama and Becca Monahan.

The highlight of an absolutely stellar line up of artists and legends alike was in fact, the all female house band; led by Michele Stodart (The Magic Numbers). It made my evening to watch these women work tirelessly and flawlessly, showing incredible musicianship and phenomenal skill.

And who could forget the new slogan ‘I’ve Turned my Knob to Bob‘! This was certainly a ten year anniversary no one could forget; a true reflection of a community and music scene to be proud of. 


UK Instrumentalist of the Year     

Holly Carter

International Song of the Year

‘You’re Not Alone’ Allison Russel Ft Brandi Carlile

UK Song of the Year

Hannah White

International Album of the Year

‘Raise the Roof’ by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

UK Album of the Year

‘Superhuman’ by Ferris and Sylvester

Grass Roots Award

Ralph Mclean

UK Live Act of the Year

Elles Bailey

Songwriter Legacy Award

Loretta Lynn

Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award

The Hanging Stars

UK Artist of the Year

Elles Bailey

Best Selling UK Americana Album 

“FTHC’ by Frank Turner 

International Artist of the Year

Allison Russell

International Trailblazer Award 

Nickel Creek

International Lifetime Achievement Award

Judy Collins

UK lifetime Achievement Award

Mike Scott Of The Waterboys

Review written by Jess T (

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