2015 October 01, 4:55 my time, 6:55 elsewhere in the bluegrass world.
Welcome to the official blog of the 49th annual IBMA awards, the one night a year when the awards red carpet is filled with regular looking people...and a few irregular looking ones; that Chris Jones is freakishly tall!
I've just been informed that this is only the 26th time the International Bluegrass Music Association awards have been handed out. I've also been informed that this is not the official blog of the awards show.
So, now I've got some questions about that 15 bucks I sent in last year to sponsor a fundraiser in support of the association...I thought it came with official sponsor status. I know it can't cost a lot more than that to be an offical sponsor. Hmmm...
Here's hoping the rest of the information I provide this evening is more accurate that the first paragraph.
I have absolutely no idea what will happen this evening, including whether I can figure out how to post a running blog in this space. Since I changed my password from "20/20 Vision," I can't remember the new one, although I suspect it may be "Walking@roundBlind." If all goes as I have planned, but not prepared, I will update this blog about every fifteen minutes, bringing you the results just as quickly as folks like Cybergrass may have done for you back in 1999.
I do appreciate you, kind reader, checking in with me here at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, whether live or at some point in the future. I will do my best not to let my prejudices color my remarks. I may, however, spell 'color' and 'honor' with a 'u', as they were meant to be spelled. Also, since I am not nearly as funny as I used to think I was, don't expect a whole lot of high quality laughs. A slight chuckle may be the best I come up with.
Thanks to those outlets live steaming the show; I love watching frozen feeds.
The IBMA Awards Show! The only show business awards show that has never been mentioned by anyone at TMZ and Entertainment Tonight. Not coincidentally, it is also the only awards show I tend to watch as every minute unfolds.
I love me some bluegrass, and this evening some bluegrassers will be recognized as will musicians who play other music, if the Punch Brothers or Snyder Family Band win something. I know bluegrass is a big tent, but just how big does it need to be? Have you heard the new Steep Canyon Rangers album? Not sure who influenced it more, REO Speedwagon or The Kinks; pert sure it wasn't Bill Monroe.
Still, it's a real good listen.
Sounds are coming from my live stream, and people are walking in front of the cameras. We must be getting close. To something.
Either someone is welcoming each of us as we come on stream, or he thinks "Hello" has replaced, "Check, Check. One, two."
While I was in a meeting earlier in the day, several awards were handed out at the bluegrass luncheon. I was pleased to hear that Chris Jones was named Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year for the second time. Well deserved, and maybe someday the voters will realize he is a singer, too, and a darned fine one.
As well, Becky Buller received the first of what I'm guessing will be a couple awards, as the Bluegrass Songwriter of the Year. Gary Reid was recognized as Bluegrass Print/Media Person of the Year. I'm not going to mention the liner notes and graphic design spots as they went to a non-bluegrass release. Oh, just noticed that Deano Minton was a co-winner for Graphic Design for the Junior Sisk album "Trouble Follows Me."
Not the first time I didn't notice that album's design.
The audience is currently practicing their clapping, and the nominees have received their warning that acceptance speeches can be no longer than 30 seconds. Yup, master your art over 30 years, work for months on a recording project, and we'll give you 30 seconds to say, "Thanks." Heck, for some artists, it'll take them that long to stop crying.
You know who you are.
Apologies if I mess up the paragraphs; might forget my HTML rules at some point.
Like there. I think I've got this figured out and we're just four minutes away from "Shoulder to Shoulder."
While I miss the voice of Eddie Stubbs, Nedski sounds pretty swell, too. Nice to have The Earls of Leicester kick off the show-the first singing voice is Shawn Camp, and the first instrument heard is Jerry Douglas's reso. A trad. start to the proceedings, as it should be, me thinks.
That is one heck of a band. I hope they walk away with an award or three. Wish they had chosen a different song than "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms," though.
Oh, I am going to really like the next couple or three minutes! The Gibson Brothers providing an overview of their music and influences. Yup. They are good.
Two Eric Gibson hair jokes so far...and one bald joke.
The first award...
Instrumental Performance of the Year- The nominees are: "Backdraft (You Light It, You Fight It" - Balsam Range (artist), "Five" (album), Buddy Metlon, Marc Pruett, Tim Surrett, Darren Nicholson, Caleb B. Smith (writer), Balsam Range (producer), Mountain Home Music Company; "Come Along Jody" - Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper (artist), "On Down the Line" (album), Benjamin F. "Tex" Logan (writer), Jeff White, Michael Cleveland (producers), Compass Records; "Cumberland Gap" - Lonesome River Band (artist), "Turn On A Dime" (album), Sammy Shelor (arrangement), Sammy Shelor (producer), Mountain Home Music Company; "The Three Bells" - Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes (artists), "The Three Bells" (album), Jean Villard, Bert Reisfeld (writers), Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes (producer), Rounder Records; "Yeah Man" - Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen (artist), "Cold Spell" (album), Mike Munford (writer), Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen (producer), Compass Records
Three very familiar songs, none of the performances of which, in my limited knowledge of such things, did much to turn them inside out. I have a hard time seeing the project of Auldridge, Douglas, and Ickes going home without some recognition tonight. Still... "Yeah Man," a lively and most importantly distinctive banjo tune, one that is elevated by everyone playing on the track.
We've just heard Rob McCoury say more words than he has in 20 years of seeing him in concert.
And, the award goes to...still reading the nominees.
"Three Bells." There is the first sentimental vote of the year. Where's the bluegrass, tho?
Good speech, indeed.
Recorded Event of the Year- The nominees are: "Against The Grain"- Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, featuring Garth Brooks (artists), Larry Cordle (producer), MightyCord Records; "Blue Memories" - J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson & Paul Williams (artists), Doyle Lawson (producer), Mountain Home Music Company; "For Buddy" - Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes (artists), Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes (producers), Rounder Records; "Test of Time" - Steep Canyon Rangers & Edie Brickell (artists), Carl Jackson (producer); "The Three Bells" - Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes (artists), Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes (producers) Rounder Records; "Southern Flavor" - Becky Buller, with Peter Rowan, Michael Feagan, Buddy Spicher, Ernie Sykes, Roland White and Blake Williams (artists), Stephen Mougin (producer) Dark Shadow Recording
Not sure the Crowe, Lawson, and Williams track belongs in this category, coming as it does from the lineup's second album in recent years-not sure 'event' applies any longer. The chosen Larry Cordle track is the weakest on an uneven, middling set (but, it was the lead track and it seems that may be as deep as some voters ever get on albums) and is bluegrass only in name, certainly not performance. With vote splitting likely to hold back the A, D, & I tunes, I'm going to predict and hope for "Southern Flavor."
If we're talking an event, this is it. Also up for Song of the Year, this lineup fits the bill as a Recorded Event: an emerging bluegrass vocalist and fiddler backed by an assemblage of Blue Grass Boys performing (maybe) Bill Monroe's last great tune, with lyrics added with the Father of Bluegrass's consent some twenty-plus years ago, but not recorded...yup, that's an event. It is also the most amazing performance of the bunch, in my opinion. I don't think there will be enough traction for the Steep Canyon Rangers with Edie Brickell track much as I love the song-although, since they are performing, the 'fix' may be in. "Southern Flavor" is the one I'm backing. P.S. I don't really think the IBMA awards are rigged; if they were, certain influential board members would have way more trophies than they do.
Nice to see Del and Jean on stage, even if the machine started buffering right away. Trying to reset.
Got it back. The winner is...
"Southern Flavour." As it was predicted, so it shall be!
Thankfully, the thirty second rule was forgotten-let the winners speak, y'all. Flatt Lonesome up live now.
I won't say that is the most boring performance we'll hear tonight, but I hope it is.
What's next? A commercial. While we have a few minutes, thanks to Music City Roots for the live feed.
Banjo Player of the Year- The nominees are: Kristin Scott Benson; Rob McCoury; Noam Pikelny; Sammy Shelor; and Ron Stewart. Hard to believe, Rob McCoury has never won this award. While he deserves it, I see no reason for the voting members to change course this time. Therefore, someone will be a repeat winner tonight.
How did I pick that one, even if I changed my mind? Rob McCoury-first time winner. Need me a lottery ticket. Well deserved, Rob. Maybe the voters are thinking like me tonight. Dangerous, that.
Next, Dobro Player of the Year- The nominees are: Mike Auldridge; Jerry Douglas; Andy Hall; Rob Ickes; and Phil Leadbetter. Flux, because of this vision with The Earls of Leicester.
And the recipient is...Jerry Douglas. This isn't the first time I've picked three of four winners, but it does mean I won't get another one all night. Another well deserved award. The Earls of Leicester was his idea.
Hot Rize! Will they win something tonight? They should...maybe the final award of the evening. Listen to that-there's some guys glad to be playing together. Back to listening.
Maybe O'Brien will be Male Vocalist of the Year. Still hoping for Del, though.
Buddy Melton and the local mayor presenting bass and mandolin awards. We know that was a joke, because no bluegrasser has $200 in his pocket.
Bass Player of the Year- The nominees are: Barry Bales; Mike Bub; Missy Raines; Mark Schatz; and Tim Surrett. I can see Tim Surrett, the new Chairperson of the IBMA, walking away with the award tonight. But, Bub's the man.
The award goes to, Tim Surrett. Gosh, I'm on fire even when I am wrong.
First reference to the Bible. Right before the first joke poking fun at the IBMA. Again, the thirty second rule has been suspended; hope that is maintained.
Next, Mandolin Player of the Year- The nominees are: Jesse Brock; Sam Bush; Sierra Hull; Ronnie McCoury; and Adam Steffey. Dang, has to be Ronnie McCoury. No?
Jesse Brock gets it again, one of my favourites. His second award. A gracious, heartfelt acceptance speech. Now up, Del McCoury Band. Yah! Neat to see the grandsons out for "Fathers and Sons."
Liking Rob's tie. That's the only fashion comment I'll make tonight, no matter how many grey suits are on stage. Another commercial. Again, thanks to the sponsors of the awards show, the live stream, and thanks to you for visiting Fervor Coulee Bluegrass here at Country Standard Time.
Good intro of Jerry Douglas, Nedski. Woody Platt and Flux to present next. The awards show hosts haven't been heard from a lot, have they?
Why is the NCAA such a big deal?
Fiddle Player of the Year- The nominees are: Becky Buller; Jason Carter; Michael Cleveland; Stuart Duncan; Ron Stewart. Where Becky Buller gets her nod, although the instrumental performer categories can be a bit of an old boys' club. Jason Carter continues to saw with the best of them, and you can never go wrong with Michael Cleveland.
The award goes to...No way, buffering again.
The stream comments tell me that Michael Cleveland has won his 10th fiddle player of the year award. I'll have to trust them, cause I'm watching a spinning circle. With 3500+ watching, we may have crashed the signal coming north.
Sounds like lotsa folks lost the feed, but we're back and didn't miss too much, I hope.
Guitar Player of the Year- The nominees are: Jim Hurst; Kenny Smith; Tim Stafford; Bryan Sutton; and Josh Williams. I lean toward Jim Hurst because, after four years, I still can't get his playing on "Dew on the Mountain" out of my head, but witnessing Josh Williams live this summer convinces me that he should get another trophy for his display case; hearing him this summer almost made me squeal.
Bryan Sutton wins again.9th time, third in a row. I 'get it' this year; loving what he does with Hot Rize. Acknowledges the many, many up and comers in the guitar world, not all of whom play bluegrass. Well, not my bluegrass.
Love the idea of having Mrs. Gibson introduce her sons' performance. At least, I'm guessing that is what she is doing. And, she was.
"Long Gone." Man, they play clean. Love the sound through these headphones.
That's it for the Instrumental Performers of the Year. Always a bit of a roll of the dice, the quality of bluegrass playing is so high within this field of professionals that each and every one of the nominated musicians-and many more-are deserving of this recognition. I won't argue too much with anything that has happened so far tonight. Dang, lost the webcast. I guess I could grouse about that for a bit. Back soon, I hope.
Sierra Hull and Shawn Camp out as the next presenters.
Female Vocalist of the Year- The nominees are: Dale Ann Bradley; Becky Buller; Claire Lynch; Amanda Smith; and Rhonda Vincent.
Rhonda Vincent, since going her own way professionally and with no label backing, and since ruffling feathers several awards shows ago-the ramifications which may still be impacting the organization-may never win this award again. The fact that she seems obsessed with recording with every tired classic country artist surely doesn't help. Claire Lynch and last year's recipient Amanda Smith weren't overly active this past year, and there are those of us who really don't see Lynch as a bluegrass performer most days. Swing, yes. Americana, certainly. Bluegrass? A couple times per album.
Becky Buller and Dale Ann Bradley didn't stop all year. Regular readers know I make no secret my regard for Berea, KY favoured daughter, Dale Ann Bradley. There isn't a finer singer in bluegrass today, and her most recent album "Pocket Full of Keys" is among her finest. Still, Pinecastle, her new label, doesn't pull the sway that her former home Compass does. Becky Buller has emerged from the shadows during the last year. So, who to win?
Maybe next time, Becky. Dale Ann is still the one for me.
The winner is...What? No one is more shocked than me. Rhonda Vincent, for the 8th time, but first since 2006. Not in the room.
Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year- The nominees are: "Holding To The Right Hand" - Lonesome River Band (artist), "Turn On A Dime" (album), Marvin Clark (writer), Sammy Shelor (producer), Mountain Home Music Company; "Insured Beyond The Grave" - J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson & Paul Williams (artist), "Standing Tall and Tough" (album), Ira Louvin, Charlie Louvin (writers), Doyle Lawson (producer), Mountain Home Music Company; "Stacking Up the Rocks" - Balsam Range (artist), "Five" (album), Buddy Melton (writer), Balsam Range (producers), Mountain Home Music Company; "What a Wonderful Savior Is He" - The Gibson Brothers (artist), "Brotherhood" (album), William G. Brewster (writer), Eric Gibson, Leigh Gibson, Mike Barber (producer), Rounder Records; and "Who Will Sing for Me" - The Earls of Leicester (artist), "The Earls of Leicester" (album), Carter Stanley, Ralph Stanley (writer), Jerry Douglas (producers), Rounder Records.
Or, as folks in the auditorium view it, time for a smoke out back. Maybe that's where Rhonda was.
As a non-Christian, this category means less to me than it may to others, but I do love the sound of bluegrass gospel. Two or three memorable songs here. "Stacking Up the Rocks." I'll go with the veterans, Crowe, Lawson, and Williams.
And the award goes to...The Earls of Leicester. Wrong again, but a fine selection.
Kenny and Amanda Smith up now to present...
Male Vocalist of the Year- The nominees are: Shawn Camp; Del McCoury; Buddy Melton; Russell Moore; and Tim O'Brien.
The category I may have most struggled with this year...and most years. But, dang-they can all sing the bluegrass music. Being an active fan of four of these gents, I am quartered if not drawn in this category. With Tim O'Brien back fronting a bluegrass band, I would have no problem with him winning for the third time. Buddy Melton has a distinctive voice, a real strong one. And I love the way the bluegrass community has fully embraced Shawn Camp as the front man for The Earls of Leicester; the only nominee who doesn't have one of this IBMA award on his mantle, Camp would be a fairly brave choice by the voting members, and-had I a vote-would likely have voted for him before the end of July.
Del, yeah! Del McCoury may not get as high as consistently as he once did, or hold the notes quite as long, but the man still has it. Fingers crossed then for Del McCoury, one last time. It would be his fifth time as Male Vocalist of the Year, and the first in twenty years: unbelievable that, when one considers at least two of those who have taken the award since Del last did.
The 2015 IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year is...Shawn Camp! Well deserved! Maybe the most entertaining male vocalist going...hey, why wasn't he nominated for Emerging Artist? Doin' the Lester bit...
Still, Del McCoury is the Male Vocalist every year, award or not.
Vocal Group of the Year- The nominees are: Balsam Range ; Blue Highway; Flatt Lonesome; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; and The Gibson Brothers
With vocal precision as one of its hallmarks, bluegrass has no end of great vocal bands. Similar to other categories, and more consistently than several, Vocal Group of the Year is traditionally a repeat award-The Nashville Bluegrass Band the first four years, IIIrd Tyme Out the next seven, DLQ the seven years following those, Dailey & Vincent pulling in a trifecta followed by Blue Highway once, the Gibsons twice, and last year, Balsam Range. The odds tell us it is Balsam Range who gets the award again.
So far I've done pretty good on my picks, made earlier this week. Close almost every time...well, not with Rhonda. Balsam Range get this one, so another one in my column. I think they are a very deserving group. Seem like nice guys, too. Makes me wish I was still booking shows.
Edie Brickell and Steep Canyon Rangers now up with their single "Test of Time." Not on the "Radio" album, which I thought was a bit odd. Seem to be having trouble finding their timing here...there ya go- on track now. Just going to listen.
8:54. Not traditional by any means, but I liked that performance. Something a little bit different. Commercial? Yup. Back in a couple.
A little rant. Either Dale Ann Bradley or Becky Buller should have been the Female Vocalist of the Year. Lots of chart action. New albums. Bluegrass albums. Rhonda does a good show, but there is little spontaneity that I can sense. And, I don't think her voice is as strong as it was a dozen years ago. Her music certainly isn't as interesting. Okay, rant over. The karma gods got me- lost the feed again. Sigh. Just my opinion.
Hall of Fame Nominees- Bill Keith and Larry Sparks. Two worthy inductees, and I won't denigrate their inclusion by mentioning, for the tenth or eleventh year in a bleeding row, that Hazel Dickens, the most incredible songwriter, fiercest vocalist, more determined social activist, and danged nice lady I've had the pleasure of getting out of the way for, has again been ignored by the special and prestigious members of the industry charged with such honors.
Bill Keith being inducted into the Hall of Fame by Alan Munde (one of the first pro banjo players I saw in person) and Jim Rooney.
What a nice tribute to Brad Keith. A deserving member of the IBMA Hall of Fame, and done the right way if you ask me; bring me the flowers while I'm living.
Noam Pikelny doing "Beating Around the Bush," I'm told; Bill Keith just delivered what may go down as the finest Hall of Fame induction speech ever heard at an IBMA ceremony. Standing ovation...from my chesterfield.
Noam can play the 5-string! And now, words from the sponsors.
Again, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee Bluegrass this or any evening.
Larry Sparks' turn, inducted by Alison Krauss. She is allowing him to tell his story. Classy.
9:26 I hope the IBMA is archiving these inductions tonight. Is there a video display at the Museum for all the inductees with their induction and speeches on a loop? Should be. What Alison is reading is art, history of bluegrass art.
Why am I tearing up? Dang, Alison. Awesome.
9:30 Alison Krauss for Bluegrass Reader of the Year!
"You don't need "This This This and This!" True words, Mr. Sparks.
9:34 I always thought of Larry Sparks as a man of few words. Apparently, he'll talk if you're Alison Krauss!
Don't know 'bout you, but I am clapping for Larry Sparks...and AK.
"I like promoters." Larry Sparks, 2015
Just spotted Ken Irwin in the audience. Nice man. A pleasant acceptance speech from Larry Sparks. Down to earth.
9:42 Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers with Alison Krauss. LIVE! Oh, boy. "John Deere Tractor." Cool.
As it should be, Larry Sparks singing himself into the Hall of Fame. What's next? 1968, "Green Pastures." "Tennessee 1949." Alison is having a ball. So is Larry.
I gotta say, that is how you roll into the IBMA Hall of Fame. The producers should be commended. Commercials. Man, I wish I still had the radio show so that I could get a copy of the broadcast for the bluegrass shelf; that Sparks' performance is one for the ages. Way to go, all involved.
Five awards to go.
Right, the Gibson Brothers are hosting; have hardly seen 'em.
Another hair joke.
I don't get Flatt Lonesome, although I admit their second album is a mile and a half better than the first.
Emerging Artist of the Year- The nominees are: Adkins & Loudermilk; Band of Ruhks; Becky Buller; Mountain Faith; Snyder Family Band; The Earls of Leicester; and Volume Five.
Really, seven nominees? Wasn't there enough room in the Momentum Awards? The only band that didn't get on the ballot was my soon to be assembled outfit, The Fumblin' Fuhks.
Having The Earls of Leicester and Band of Ruhks in this category is just, well...dumb. Can't say it more plainly-as good as the groups are, the principals of these bands emerged some time ago, and in the case of Kenny Smith, actually won this award a dozen years ago. That band members own or share more than forty IBMA awards already makes their inclusion here rather ludicrous. Heck, why not nominate Crowe, Lawson, and Williams while we're at it! Obviously, 'emerging' means something different to the IBMA than the rest of us.
I do hope the IBMA professional members used their votes wisely. As good a year as Adkins & Loudermilk and Volume Five had, Becky Buller blew the doors open as she emerged upon the bluegrass world. Comparatively, the rest of the ballot are on the open mic and talent show stages. And, the Snyder Family Band isn't bluegrass-has anyone actually listened to their most recent album?
And the Emerging Artist of the Year is...Becky Buller! I am back on track! She is so appreciative. An emotional day for Becky Buller, I'm thinking.
Instrumental Group of the Year- The nominees are: Blue Highway; Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper; Punch Brothers; Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen; and The Earls of Leicester
The other side of 'grass, and in some ways a tale of two styles, two halves, of the music-the traditional, represented by Cleveland and The Earls, and the more experimental, Solivan and the Punch Brothers with Blue Highway stuck somewhere comfortably between the two camps. I'm not one to argue, but I would have dropped a vote in the Del McCoury Band's direction, but that is just me being contrary. By the way, the Punch Brothers are not a bluegrass band.
I'll go with The Earls of Leicester. To play the most traditional style of bluegrass music to such a demanding level takes some large amount of skill and vision, and The Earls of Leicester have these in abundance.
I'm sticking with the Earls...the award goes to-dang right. The Earls of Leicester. When the professionals of the bluegrass world are thinking this much like me...it is in trouble. Good pick, though.
In memory of...a lot of fine people, I'm sure. Not seeing the bluegrass connection with some.
Song of the Year- The nominees are: "Big Black Train" - Earls of Leicester (artist), Stanley Johnson, George Sherry (writers); "Fiddlin' Joe" - Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper (artist), Mark Brinkman (writer); "Her Love Won't Turn On A Dime" - Lonesome River Band (artist), Bart Butler, Timothy Johnson, Shane Minor (writers); "Moon Over Memphis" - Balsam Range (artist), Mark W. Winchester (writer); "Southern Flavor" - Becky Buller (artist), Bill Monroe, Guy Stevenson, DeWayne Mize (writers).
My favourite songs in recent years-"William Smith Monroe" (Niall Toner, 2011), "In Despair" (Dale Ann Bradley, 2012), "Final Farewell" (Chris Jones & the Nightdrivers, 2012), "Dew on the Mountain" (Jim Hurst, 2012), "Bluefield" (Ralph Stanley II, 2012), "I Need More Time" (Del McCoury Band, 2013), "Old Time Angels" (Jim Lauderdale, 2013)-rarely even get nominated for this award, let alone win. No surprise then that I have little allegiance in this category this year...except when it comes to The Earls (a great performance) and Becky Buller's "Southern Flavor," a song I didn't hear for many months after release. Discovering it on my own late one night last spring, I was floored. Not one to favour 'old' songs in the Song of the Year category, this time is different: here's hoping for it.
Guessing the Earls will sneak in, but Brink has lots of friends. Let's see, the winner is..."Moon Over Memphis." Hmm. Shouldn't be surprised-Balsam Range has many more IBMA awards in them, and they are very popular and influential within the industry. So, I have another song to add to the above list-songs that 'weren't' the Song of the Year. Still thinking "Southern Flavor" was the best song on the list I heard this year. Peter Rowan, y'all.
Katy and Marcia are now reading the awards from earlier in the day. And the Momentum awards from yesterday.
Performing now, Balsam Range. Man, the house loves them just a bit.
Next up should be Album of the Year. Let's see if I am right. Just read the teleprompter, Noam.
Album of the Year- The nominees are: "Brotherhood" - The Gibson Brothers (artist), Eric Gibson, Leigh Gibson, Mike Barber (producers), Rounder; "Five" - Balsam Range (artist), Balsam Range (producer), Mountain Home Music Company; "The Earls of Leicester" - The Earls of Leicester (artist) Jerry Douglas (producer), Rounder; "Too" - Flatt Lonesome (artist), Andrea Roberts, Tim Surrett (producers), Mountain Home Music Company; "When I'm Free" - Hot Rize (artist), Hot Rize (producer), Ten In Hand Records
The category in which "Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry," "Standing Tall and Tough," "Live at the Old Feed Store," "Side By Side," "Pocket Full of Keys," "Sit Down! Get Up! Get Out," and "Lonesome and Then Some" were deemed just not good enough. But, "Too" was! What's up with that? Yes, that was my head being given a shake.
"Brotherhood" was built around a concept, and "The Earls of Leicester" was similarly inspired. "When I'm Free" also had something behind it, if only the reinvigoration of one of modern bluegrass's seminal bands. All three are worthy of nomination, as is "Five." It is a fairly mainstream list of albums, and I was mildly surprised that one of the year's best outlier albums-"Laurie and Kathy Sing Songs of Vern and Ray"-was overlooked; likely, we could all pick out two or three favourite albums that 'should' have made the list.
I'm pulling for "The Earls of Leicester" because the album revitalizes an entire style of bluegrass that is too frequently cast aside as not 'progressive' enough. I love that old bluegrass sound, and The Earls of Leicester capture it beautifully. In no way does it sound like a tribute or re-creation: they sound fresh, vital, and energetic. It is a marvelous album, and that Jerry Douglas liked my review is beside the point!
"When I'm Free" did the same thing for the band Hot Rize, and really-which is the greater achievement? Re-establishing a sound, or re-establishing a band?
Can't pick a bad album in this category: they almost always pick a very good disc, if not always to my taste.
The album of the year, 2015 IBMA style is "The Earls of Leicester!" Sort of the theme of the night. Bring back the trad!
The big winners tonight are Flatt & Scruggs. Not that trophy; that's why bass players aren't allowed near the mic.
Barry Bales nails it- "It's hard; we were trying to recreate it, and they were inventing it."
Charlie Cushman gets to say a few 'from the heart' words. Jerry Douglas speaks a lot, but is a fine ambassador for the music.
Entertainer of the Year- The nominees are: Balsam Range; Hot Rize; The Earls of Leicester; The Gibson Brothers; and The Del McCoury Band.
The end of a long evening. This award, generally and with only a couple aberrations, goes to groups in streaks of two, three, and four years. Following a backward by design model, Balsam Range-having captured the award last year-should repeat. And, perhaps they will:they appear to have the professional momentum and standing in the bluegrass industry.
But having seen all these bands online this year, and in the cases of the Del McCoury Band and Hot Rize live, I'm putting my token on...Hot Rize. Yup, the 1990 Entertainers of the Year will repeat. (In my heart, I'm pulling for Del & 'em.) Let's see what happens...
The momentum seems to be going the direction of the EofL...the award goes to The Earls of Leicester. Can't be a surprise at this point, but I thought Hot Rize would do it. Either way, Tim O'Brien gets a trophy. Hopefully they don't break this one.
Paul Williams, Bobby Hicks, and Del McCoury to close the show. "I'm On My Way Back to the Old Home." Who is going to join them?
The answer is, Buller, Brown, Bales, Bush, and Bryan...the bluegrass b's. Ickes, Sierra, and a few others.
So many on stage, I missed Cleveland. "Roll On Buddy." Members of the Snyder Family, too. Noam. Crowded stage.
A great night for bluegrass. Thanks for sticking around. Hope I brought some insight to the proceedings.
See you next year.