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2017 International Bluegrass Music Awards- Hopes & Predictions

Donald Teplyske  |  September 26, 2017

The International Bluegrass Music Association awards will be handed out Thursday evening. My opinions on who 'should' win the awards (i.e. who I want to win) are often in conflict with who I believe 'will' win (i.e. the prediction) and who does win (i.e. the one most people who are willing to pay the professional membership fee of the organization vote for). IBMA awards differ in that they are not supposed to be a popularity contest (although, invariably, they are) but a merit-based recognition of peers(ish).

My opinions and predictions are coloured (like that Canadian/British spelling!) by distance from the bluegrass epi-centre and frequent concert attendance. If I am lucky, I see six or seven bluegrass bands live annually, but I do watch shows posted to the 'net and I listen to as much bluegrass as almost anyone who doesn't have a radio show.

So, here I go: who I want to win and who I think will win the various IBMA awards:

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR Balsam Range; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; The Earls of Leicester; Flatt Lonesome; The Gibson Brothers

VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR Balsam Range; Blue Highway; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Flatt Lonesome; The Gibson Brothers

INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR Balsam Range; The Earls of Leicester; Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen; Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper; Punch Brothers

SONG OF THE YEAR "Blue Collar Dreams" Balsam Range (artist), Aaron Bibelhauser (writer); "Going Back to Bristol" Shawn Camp (artist), Mac Wiseman/Thomm Jutz/Peter Cooper (writers); "I Am a Drifter" Volume Five (artist), Donna Ulisse/Marc Rossi (writers); "Someday Soon" Darin & Brooke Aldridge (artist), Ian Tyson (writer); "The Train That Carried My Girl from Town" The Earls of Leicester (artist), Frank Hutchison (writer)

Commentary: I don't believe songs forty, fifty, and more years old should be eligible for this award, although I had no problem with "Man of Common Sorrow" capturing the award years ago. Inconsistency is part of bluegrass, Saturday night drunkenness and murder, Sunday morning gospel.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR "Fiddler's Dream" Michael Cleveland (artist), Jeff White and Michael Cleveland (producers), Compass Records (label); "In the Ground" The Gibson Brothers (artist), Eric Gibson, Leigh Gibson, and Mike Barber (producers), Rounder Records (label); "Mountain Voodoo Balsam Range (artist), Balsam Range (producer), Mountain Home Records (label); Original Bobby Osborne (artist), Alison Brown (producer), Compass Records (label); Rattle & Roar The Earls of Leicester (artist), Jerry Douglas (producer), Rounder Records (label)

GOSPEL RECORDED PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR "Give Me Jesus" Larry Cordle (artist), Traditional/Larry Cordle (writer), "Give Me Jesus" (album), Larry Cordle (producer), Mighty Cord Records (label); "Hallelujah" Blue Highway (artist), Public Domain arranged by Blue Highway (writer), "Original Traditional" (album), Blue Highway (producer), Rounder Records (label); "I Found a Church Today" The Gibson Brothers (artist), Eric Gibson/Leigh Gibson (writers), "In the Ground" (album), Eric Gibson, Leigh Gibson, and Mike Barber (producers), Rounder Records (label "Sacred Memories" Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers with Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White Skaggs (artist), Dolly Parton (writer), "Sacred Memories" (album), Joe Mullins (producer), Rebel Records (label); "Wish You Were Here" Balsam Range (artist), James Stover/Michael Williams (writers), "Mountain Voodoo" (album), Balsam Range (producer), Mountain Home Records (label)

Commentary: Honestly? I can only hear one of these songs in my head. The Gibson Brothers, then.

INSTRUMENTAL RECORDED PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR "Fiddler's Dream" Michael Cleveland (artist), Arthur Smith (writer), "Fiddler's Dream" (album), Jeff White and Michael Cleveland (producers), Compass Records (label); "Great Waterton" Kristin Scott Benson (artist), Kristin Scott Benson (writer), "Stringworks" (album), Kristin Scott Benson (producer), Mountain Home Records (label); "Greenbrier" Sam Bush (artist), Sam Bush/Scott Vestal (writers), "Storyman" (album), Sugar Hill Records (label); "Little Liza Jane" Adam Steffey (artist), Tommy Duncan/James Robert Wills (writers), "Here to Stay" (album), Adam Steffey (producer), Mountain Home Records (label); "Flint Hill Special" The Earls of Leicester (artist), Earl Scruggs (writer), "Rattle & Roar" (album), Jerry Douglas (producer), Rounder Records (label)

EMERGING ARTIST OF THE YEAR Front Country; The Lonely Heartstring Band; Molly Tuttle; Sister Sadie; Volume Five

Commentary: I full well know that Sister Sadie should not hardly be called an emerging artist. Sue me; I'm partial.

RECORDED EVENT OF THE YEAR "East Virginia Blues" Ricky Wasson and Dan Tyminski (artists), "Croweology: The Study of J.D. Crowe's Musical Legacy" (album), Rickey Wasson (producer), Truegrass Entertainment (label); "Going Back to Bristol" Shawn Camp with Mac Wiseman, Peter Cooper, Thomm Jutz (artists), "I Sang the Song (Life of the Voice with a Heart)" (album), Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz (producers), Mountain Fever Records (label); "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" Bobby Osborne with Sierra Hull, Alison Brown, Rob Ickes, Stuart Duncan, Trey Hensley, Todd Phillips, Kenny Malone, Claire Lynch, and Bryan McDowell (artists), "Original" (album), Alison Brown (producer), Compass Records (label) "Steamboat Whistle Blues" Michael Cleveland featuring Sam Bush (artists), "Fiddler's Dream" (album), Jeff White and Michael Cleveland (producers), Compass Records (label); "'Tis Sweet to Be Remembered" Mac Wiseman and Alison Krauss (artists), "I Sang the Song (Life of the Voice with a Heart)" (album), Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz (producers), Mountain Fever Records (label)

Commentary: I believe the entire "I Sang the Song (Life of the Voice with a Heart" album should walk away with this award, but since that isn't the way the award works...

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR Shawn Camp; Eric Gibson; Leigh Gibson; Buddy Melton; Russell Moore

Commentary: Yes, I am hoping for a tie.

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR Brooke Aldridge; Dale Ann Bradley; Sierra Hull; Amanda Smith; Molly Tuttle

BANJO PLAYER OF THE YEAR Ned Luberecki; Joe Mullins; Noam Pikelny; Kristin Scott Benson; Sammy Shelor

BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR Barry Bales; Alan Bartram; Mike Bub; Missy Raines; Tim Surrett

FIDDLE PLAYER OF THE YEAR Becky Buller; Jason Carter; Michael Cleveland; Stuart Duncan; Patrick McAvinue; Ron Stewart

DOBRO PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jerry Douglas; Andy Hall; Rob Ickes; Phil Leadbetter; Josh Swift

GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jim Hurst; Kenny Smith; Bryan Sutton; Molly Tuttle; Josh Williams

MANDOLIN PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jesse Brock; Sam Bush; Sierra Hull; Frank Solivan; Adam Steffey

What am I most excited about Thursday evening? Hazel Dickens (too late; sorry about that) and Alice Gerrard being inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

Finally, I truly do not have any dogs in these fights. I don't even look at them as battles. The level of excellence in bluegrass is so extreme, just about any of the nominees are worthy recipients.

Emphasis on the 'just about.'

May the best PR campaign win!

:: Posted at 9:58 PM by Donald Teplyske ::
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