Duane Eddy’s trophy case is certainly stocked.
Earning membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Musicians Hall of Fame, a Grammy Award and a Mojo Icon Award will do that for an artist.
But the one-of-a-kind honor that he received Wednesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville might be his finest, as the soft-spoken Eddy was blown away to win the award of Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist at the Americana Music Honors and Awards show.
“It’s pretty cool, and another thing that’s cool about it is Hank Williams is getting an award,” Eddy said before the star-studded event. “That doubles or triples the honor. For me to be on stage – at the Ryman – getting an award that Hank Williams is getting? Come on.
“I shouldn’t be in the same downtown area as he is, let alone get an award. It’s just such a great honor, and it blows me away.”
“Whispering” Bob Harris, the pioneering English rock, country and folk DJ on BBC Radio, was the one who presented Eddy with his newest trophy, a hand-painted guitar. Harris called Eddy the “Titan of Twang,” perhaps one-upping Eddy’s reputation as the “King of Twang.”
During Eddy’s acceptance speech he playfully said, “Americana music, that’s a great idea. I don’t know who thought of it, but I like it,” before taking the stage to perform his timeless hit “Rebel Rouser.”
Donning a sharp embroidered black jacket and a cowboy hat adorned with a feather, Eddy squeezed every ounce of twang out of the signature Gretsch guitar as the crack backing band – which included Buddy Miller, Don Was and Larry Campbell – assisted.
Once the saxophone hit the unmistakable accents of “Rebel Rouser,” several members of the audience rose to their feet, mesmerized by Eddy’s expert fretwork.
Earlier in the evening, Williams’ granddaughter Holly Williams accepted the President’s Award for the Americana legend before performing an amazing version of his classic “I’m So Lonesome I could Cry” to open the proceedings.
Other winners included Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, who took home Duo Group of the Year and Album of the Year for Old Yellow Moon, South Carolina upstarts Shovels and Rope, who were named Emerging Artist of the Year and nabbed Song of the Year for “Birmingham,” and Artist of the Year Dwight Yoakam.
Eddy’s wasn’t the only performances to wow the capacity crowd, however.
Shovels and Rope might only be a duo, but their floor-stomping folk nearly blew the roof of the venerable venue. Stephen Stills, fresh from taking home a Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award, also turned in a bombastic version of “For What It’s Worth” alongside current Rides bandmate Keny Wayne Shepherd.
California’s Milk Carton Kids garnered a standing ovation with their contribution of “Hope of a Lifetime,” while new Grand Ole Opry members and Trailblazer Award winners Old Crow Medicine Show held a joyous revival with their infectious “Wagon Wheel.”
By the end of the evening, as revelers hit Music City to attend one of many live concerts in Nashville’s countless venues, there was a palpable feeling that the Americana Music Honors and Awards was truly something special.