Guitarists Keith Urban, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Chris Isaak, Robert Earl Keen, Elle King, Tom Bukovac, and Guthrie Trapp performed in honor of the Rev. BFG in Nashville on Monday night, as his body of work was recognized.
NASHVILLE, TN — From 1967, when he founded Texas psychedelic rock band the Moving Sidewalks, to 2023—a span that includes 15 ZZ Top studio albums and three solo recordings—Billy Gibbons has written songs as indelible as the dirty tones of his revered 1959 Gibson Les Paul, Pearly Gates. Those songs, including “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” “La Grange,” “Tush,” “It’s Only Love,” “Cheap Sunglasses,” nearly every cut on 1983’s Eliminator album, and many more, earned Gibbons BMI’s prestigious Troubadour Award in a ceremony at the performing rights organization’s Music City headquarters on Monday night.
Rising blues star Christone “Kingfish” Ingram digs into his signature Tele as he delivers “Waitin’ for the Bus,” from the 1973 ZZ Top album, Tres Hombres.
The Troubadour Award, which has also been bestowed on John Hiatt, Lucinda Williams, John Prine, and Robert Earl Keen, recognizes songwriters who’ve made a profound impact on the creative community and who are substantially influential. At the private ceremony attended by many notable fellow guitarists, including Steve Cropper, John Oates, and Molly Tuttle, Gibbons was honored by a series of filmed and live testimonials, and, more vividly, by performances with a house band that included Nashville 6-string heroes Tom Bukovac and Guthrie Trapp.
Urban’s nuanced playing on “Rough Boy,” from ZZ Top’s 1986 album Afterburner, was one of the night’s highlights.
Performers included Keith Urban, who delivered a sensitive version of “Rough Boy,” replete with tightly controlled feedback melody lines; rising blues star Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, who tore up “Waitin’ for the Bus” on his signature Fender Tele; Chris Isaak singing “Sharp Dressed Man” while wearing the night’s spangliest Nudie-inspired suit; fellow Troubadour Keen, delivering “La Grange” (with especially ripping turns from Bukovac and Trapp); and Elle King singing “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” In typical Gibbons style, his acceptance speech, which focused on his more than four decades of visiting, playing, and songwriting in Nashville, also included references to gambling debts and sneaking beers while writing a tune for his wife’s teetotaling mother in Music City.