Americana legend Dale Watson founded the Ameripolitan Awards to honor new musicians playing the classic roots style of country music. It was his way to push back against the blandness of modern mainstream country.
Local musician Carolyn Sills’ Western-swing blend the Carolyn Sills Combo had been nominated for an Ameripolitan before, but at the awards ceremony in Austin last month Sills heard their name called for the first time as winner of the Western Swing Group category. It was a surreal moment, she says—she gave a speech and got a big round of applause, then went backstage where she was showered with congratulations.
“A bunch of our idols were back there: Rosie Flores, Reverend Horton Heat,” says Sills. All those other people congratulating us, and telling us they voted for us, which was really exciting.”
Their earlier nominations saw some doors open for her group, which includes guitarist/vocalist Gerald Egan, percussionist/singer Sunshine Jackson, drummer Jim Norris, and steel guitar player Charlie Joe Wallace. And with this year’s win, she’s seeing even more interest—which comes at a great time as they are hoping to tour more, and release a new record this year.
“We’re still a small band, so to be able to get this recognition, and everyone to be so excited about the award was very nice. Definitely it’s a feather in our cap,” Sills says. “We have great friends and fans in town and people that are just so excited that we brought the trophy home. It’s definitely a win for the Santa Cruz contingent.”
Sills’ next local show will be at Flynn’s on April 7, which will be a fundraiser for local resident Fleet Montgomery, who’s currently dealing with hefty medical expenses.
INFO: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 7. Flynn’s Cabaret, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15/adv, $20/door. 335-2800.