It was a big night at the Americana Music Association, highlighted by the awarding of a Lifetime Achievement Award to pianist and zydeco icon Dr. John. The prize was presented by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, who produced John's 2012 album "Locked Down."
Auerbach summarized his piano playing as "music [that] transcended race and cultural divides...A man who's been in the right place at the wrong time and lived to write the songs."
Dr. John (real name: Mac Rebbenack) is recognizable for his role in New Orleans music, if not for the songs themselves, then for appearances he made in benefits following Hurricane Katrina, as well as his appearance in the 2013 New Orleans Super Bowl pre-game show.
He performed "I Walk On Guilded Splinters" from his 1968 debut album, "Gris Gris." He was joined by Auerbach on guitar and the Ryman Auditorium house band.
Other acts were honored and performed as well. Guitarist Duane Eddy received a Lifetime Achievement award as well for his work in rockabilly, and Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell won Album of The Year for the duo's "Old Yellow Moon."
Among the notable performances during the night was one by Grateful Dead songwriter Robert Hunter, who hadn't made a public performance in nearly a decade. He strummed and sang the song "Ripple." Stephen Stills teamed with Buffalo Springfield bandmate Richie Furay (and additional guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd) to perform the classic "For What It's Worth." Stills also received the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award.