There’s no place quite like Robert’s Western World. With the best house band in town, all-but guaranteed celebrity sightings, and the famed Recession Special (a fried bologna sandwich, chips and a PBR), Robert’s is on the short list of the best bars in Nashville, or anywhere, for that matter.
Robert Ellis hosted what may as well have been the official Americana Awards afterparty when he took over the appropriately named honky tonk late Wednesday night. The Nashville/Brooklyn-based songwriter, who was nominated for a handful of awards and performed earlier in the evening at the Ryman Auditorium ceremony, pulled together a few of his most famous friends for what turned out to be a pretty star-studded evening at the legendary Broadway haunt.
Playing for what had to be a capacity crowd, Ellis joined beloved Robert’s house band Brazilbilly on some classic country covers, like Buck Owens’ “Transistor Radio” and Don Williams’ “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” before bringing some friends on stage. Over the next couple hours, guests came and went from the tiny window stage, including Elizabeth Cook (Hard Working Americans), Hayes Carll, Angaleena Presley, Caitlin Rose, J.P. Harris and Rhett Miller, trading lead duties on songs like Conway Twitty’s “(I’d Love to) Lay You Down,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Fool Out of Me)” and Glen Campbell’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”
Awards host Jim Lauderdale, after venturing behind the bar with his guitar to grab a beer (because if you’re Jim Lauderdale, you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want), joined Ellis for a couple tunes before heading back out into the crowd to greet fans and fellow musicians.
The audience was just as star-studded as the stage, with Group/Duo of the Year winners the Milk Carton Kids, Emerging Artist winner Sturgill Simpson, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Manuel, and, in true Nashville strange celebrity sighting fashion, Avengers star Tom Hiddleston all dancing and singing along to Ellis and his supergroup’s rowdy take on classic country.
Wednesday was only the first night of the five-day Americana Music Festival, and if it’s any indication, there’s one hell of a weekend to come. So turn on some Hank, grab a bottle of Advil and get ready for night two. And whatever you do, don’t go home early; you never know who you might see on a night out in Nashville.