Most years I live blog about the awards as they occur, but this year I am having to rely on Twitter, and specifically @StacyChandler for information as they are not streaming the awards this year. I am sure there is a reason for this, but it is disappointing.
Therefore, I have had to leave instantaneous reactions to those present. I'm typing (with minimal editing) as I receive the news via Twitter.
The first award of the evening goes to The Special Consensus for Instrumental Performance of the Year, "Fireball." I'm one-for-one...it won't last.
I am not surprised that Recorded Event of the Year was awarded to "Longneck Blues" from the popular Junior Sisk and Ronnie Bowman despite my belief that it isn't a terribly strong song. No longer batting 1.000.
Banjo player of the year:Charlie Cushman of The Earls of Leicester. I didn't call this one because I (for some reason) felt the noodlers would have their way, but I couldn't be happier. Cushman knows how to play bluegrass. Beautiful.
Dobro player of the year:Jerry Douglas, the true Earl of Leicester, for the tenth time and second year in a row. Called that one. I also believe it will be cold this winter.
Bass player of the year:Barry Bales, making the E of L three-for-three. My mistake in not going with Bales: with Rob McCoury 'finally' winning as Banjo player of the year last year, I thought maybe this time the organization would get behind the Del McCoury Band/Travellin' McCoury's other member that has never been crowned by the IBMA, Alan Bartrum. I was wrong.
Getting all the instrumental awards out of the way, apparently. Next, Mandolin player of the year, and a first time winner- Sierra Hull. I hedged on this one, backing both Adam Steffey and Sierra Hull:not my kind of music-barely in the big tent last time I listened-but not surprised that the powerbrokers of the industry went with her.
Fiddle player of the year:Wow! I got another one-Becky Buller.
Guitar player of the year is Bryan Sutton, for the tenth time-well deserved. He is one heck of a player, and released an excellent album. And, I called it. Let's see...that makes me four-and-a-half for eight, which is spooky.
Now, onto the vocalists...I'm surprised that Becky Buller has just been named Female Vocalist of the Year. She didn't release a new album, but I guess her increased presence in the industry has been rewarded. Deserving. Not as deserving as Dale Ann Bradley, but...
Gospel recorded performance of the year, "All Dressed Up" by Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, a song I thought was pretty good initially, but which in retrospect is too 'by the books' for my tastes. Still, a fine performance, I just happened to enjoy what Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands did more. My prediction that she wouldn't win was correct, so I'm counting this one!
Male vocalist of the year, Danny Paisley. Some would say, "About time!" I'm one of them as I predicted this one. Again, I would have voted differently, but-again-deserving.
I called another one, which is frightening...Flatt Lonesome is Vocal group of the year. Again, not to my taste, but I take some satisfaction in at least being able to predict the direction the wind is blowing...even from a distance.
I am really missing the IBMA live stream: all the asides and quips, and especially the various "thanks" that are offered-you can learn a lot about a person by the way they accept an award. The 'in memory' segment is something for which I have great respect. Also, I regret not being able to hear the Rounder folks receive their Hall of Fame honours; I am certain Ken Irwin had fine words. Finally, the live performances are almost always memorable.
I can't imagine why there is no live stream this year beyond a lack of sponsorship, which is too bad. I wonder why the IBMA can't just 'do it' on their own...even if only on Periscope!
Back to the awards. Mountain Faith, a band that made their name on a reality series, was just awarded Emerging Artist of the Year. Sigh. The less I say...
Song of the Year just went to a song originally released in 1990. I called it. I wouldn't have voted for it. "You're the One," by Flatt Lonesome, giving them two awards tonight, and I predict they will get the hat trick later on. I believe it is the weakest performance on their album; what the hell do I know?!
Again, the less I say...
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen were awarded Instrumental Group of the Year...my prediction percentage is falling-barely over 50% now. I heard The Earls of Leicester and Dirty Kitchen side-by-side this summer. No offense...to these ears, it ain't close.
Okay, no little bit of self-revision/editing here...
Penny Parsons, author of Foggy Mountain Troubadour, was named Bluegrass Media Person of the Year. I had placed this bio of Curly Seckler on my 'to buy' list, but then forgot about it...need to correct that.
It is hard for the bluegrass industry to receive true, critical coverage when folks are eligible (vying?) for recognition from the professional industry they cover. No? Perhaps Bluegrass Media Promoter of the Year would be a better name for the award.
Other Special Awards presented earlier went to the IBMA's new chairperson, Joe Mullins, as Broadcaster of the Year, and his son Daniel for Best Liner notes for a Traditional Grass compilation...a band featuring Joe Mullins. Yes, the industry is a bit incestuous...(And Mullins' notes were well written and full of insight.)
Flatt Lonesome won Album of the Year, an album much, much stronger than their previous and one I positively reviewed. Still, "Runaway Train" wouldn't have been in my top 25 bluegrass albums of the year, and where I predicted the 'hat trick' above, I thought they would get Entertainer of the Year. The SteelDrivers got themselves robbed.
The evening's final award-Entertainer of the Year-rightfully goes to The Earls of Leicester! As it should be. (I predicted Flatt Lonesome, but hoped for the Earls.) I believe that puts me below 50% for the night on the predications, probably better than I have ever done before...not exactly pleased about that, but glad about many of them.
I wonder what I missed? Hopefully next year the video live stream is back...or at least someone in the audience decides to Periscope the event.