In appreciation of Charlie Sexton, Americana Awards winner and Austin MVP

UPDATE: Austin guitarist Charlie Sexton received the Americana Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award at Wednesday evening’s awards show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He delivered a brief and graceful acceptance speech after sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer presented him with the award.

The Americana Awards show is Wednesday evening in Nashville, and unlike some years when there’s a fair bit of Austin representation among the nominees, this time our only local in the mix is Charlie Sexton, who’s up for Instrumentalist of the Year. The AMAs often lean toward their Nashville home folks, so keyboardist Jen Gunderman (also very deserving) might be a slight favorite, with pedal steel ace Spencer Cullum Jr. and Della Mae acoustic guitarist Courtney Hartman also in the mix.

Guitarist Charlie Sexton at the Continental Club on September 4, 2017, with keyboardist Bukka Allen, drummer JJ Johnson and bassist John Michael. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

Regardless of how the results turn out, we should take a moment to recognize Sexton’s deep value to the Austin music community. News earlier this week that he’d been selected by the late Margaret Moser as co-director (with Monte Warden) of Moser’s memorial concert at Antone’s in December was quickly followed Wednesday morning by word that he’s serving as musical director for the Erwin Center’s superstar Harvey benefit on September 22 with Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, James Taylor et al. He’s also set to be at the helm of a George Reiff tribute show that’s in the works.

Our city routinely asks these things of Sexton because everyone knows he will deliver the goods, despite a busy tour schedule that keeps him on the road for much of the year playing guitar in Bob Dylan’s band. Consider the workload, responsibility and level of talent required, and just count your lucky stars that he’s one of ours.

And this: If you see his name in the listings playing an all-too-infrequent show of his own somewhere, just go. I did last week, and it was one of the best gigs I’ve seen by a local artist all year. This off-the-cuff iPhone shot I got that night isn’t anything special photographically, but I like the moment: Charlie fixed in concentration on his guitar, his bandmates following his lead.

Author: Peter Blackstock

Music writer for the Austin American-Statesman and Twitter: @Blackstock360

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