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Martin, Steep Canyon Rangers win top IBMA honor

Sunday, October 2, 2011 – Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers took home the Entertainer of the Year award at the 22nd annual International Bluegrass Music Awards Thursday at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.

Martin leapt a few times into the air, congratulated the other Entertainer of the Year nominees and jokingly thanked them for losing. Martin talked about how he and the band worked hard on the music bringing humor and entertainment without denigrating the music. Martin said that while half of their audience usually comes to see him not knowing anything about bluegrass, "they all leave loving it, and maybe they seek out other musicians. We're really, really honored to win this award tonight."

Steep Canyon Rangers lead singer, Woody Platt joked, "Working with Steve, we might be the most entertained of all. Most of all we thank Steve for giving us this most amazing ride."

Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers, a young group based in North Carolina named IBMA's Emerging Artist of the Year in 2007, played Me and Paul Revere during the Awards Show, a song Martin wrote from the perspective of Revere's horse.

The Gibson Brothers took home awards for Vocal Group of the Year and Album of the Year for "Help My Brother" on Compass Records.

The Boxcars, a new combination of veteran musicians, were named Emerging Artists of the Year and Instrumental Group of the Year. Band member Ron Stewart tied for Banjo Player of the Year with The Grascals' Kristin Scott Benson, who received the award for the fourth consecutive year.

Balsam Range received top honors for Song of the Year for Trains I Missed, written by Walt Wilkins, Gilles Godard & Nicole Witt. "There are a lot of folks out there-myself included-who are thankful for some of those trains missed and how things turned out," said Tim Surrett of Balsam Range.

Doyle Lawson, J.D. Crowe and Paul Williams took home two trophies for Recorded Event of the Year and Gospel Recorded Performance, for "Prayer Bells from Heaven." The three announced their plans to record a second Old Friends album.

Russell Moore of IIIrd Tyme Out and Dale Ann Bradley took home awards for Male Vocalist and Female Vocalist of the Year-the fourth time for each. Rob Ickes of Blue Highway was awarded his 13th Dobro Player of the Year award, the most trophies any individual instrumentalist has received in the history of the IBMA Awards.

Michael Cleveland was named Fiddle Player of the Year for the ninth time, and his band received the award for Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year for Goin' Up Dray Branch, a song written by Buddy Spicher and Jimmy Martin. Marshall Wilborn was named Bass Player of the Year for the third time, Bryan Sutton received the Guitar Player of the Year award for the sixth time, and Adam Steffey dedicated his eighth Mandolin Player of the Year to his twin sons, who he expects to be born in the next two weeks.

Hosted by mandolin player and band leader Sam Bush, the 2011 IBMA Awards Show were a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass.

Performing live were the Sam Bush Band, The Grascals, Balsam Range, The Del McCoury Band, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Sierra Hull & Highway 111, Lonesome River Band, The Boxcars, The Gibson Brothers, Dailey & Vincent, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver-later joined by J.D. Crowe and Paul Williams, George Shuffler, Hall of Famer Tom Gray and new Distinguished Award recipient Roland White.

White kicked into Wheel Hoss, with the next break played in twin harmony by Sam Bush and Ronnie McCoury on their mandolins. Dailey & Vincent added triple fiddles to their usual line-up for Close By, and The Grascals brought two young girls from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Vanderbilt Children's Hospital who are battling cancer onstage with them to sing I Am Strong, a song inspired by the band's trip to St. Jude.

Ronnie and Rob McCoury inducted their father into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, and guitarist James Alan Shelton inducted George Shuffler, the bass and cross-picked guitar stylist known as "the third Stanley Brother." The evening ended with a guitar rendition of Life is Like a Mountain Railway from Shuffler and Shelton, backed by Gray, and a medley of Del McCoury songs delivered in his trademark, scalding tenor range.

The International Bluegrass Music Awards are voted on by the professional membership of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), which serves as the trade association for the bluegrass music industry. The IBMA Awards Show is the centerpiece of the World of Bluegrass Week Sept. 26 - Oct. 2 in Nashville.

Award winners were:

Hall of Fame Inductees - Del McCoury, George Shuffler Entertainer of the Year - Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers

Vocal Group of the Year - The Gibson Brothers

Instrumental Group of the Year - The Boxcars Male Vocalist of the Year - Russell Moore

Female Vocalist of the Year - Dale Ann Bradley

Emerging Artist of the Year - The Boxcars

Album of the Year - "Help My Brother" by The Gibson Brothers (artists), Eric & Leigh Gibson and Mike Barber (producers), Compass (label)

Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year - Goin' Up Dry Branch, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper (artist), Buddy Spicher & Jimmy Martin (songwriters), Jeff White & Michael Cleveland (producers), Rounder (label)

Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year - Prayer Bells of Heaven by J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson, & Paul Williams (artists), Ben Isaacs (producer), Mountain Home (label)

Song of the Year - Trains I Missed, Balsam Range (artists); Walt Wilkins, Gilles Godard & Nicole Witt (songwriters)

Recorded Event of the Year - Prayer Bells of Heaven by J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson & Paul Williams (artists); Ben Isaacs (producer); Mountain Home (label)

Banjo Player of the Year - Kristin Scott Benson and Ron Stewart (tie)

Guitar Player of the Year - Bryan Sutton

Fiddle Player of the Year - Michael Cleveland

Bass Player of the Year - Marshall Wilborn

Mandolin Player of the Year - Adam Steffey

Dobro Player of the Year - Rob Ickes

Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients - Greg Cahill, Bill Knowlton, Lilly Pavlak, Geoff Stelling, Roland White

Broadcaster of the Year - Katy Daley, WAMU Bluegrass Country

Print Media Person of the Year - Juli Thanki, Engine145.com

Bluegrass Event of the Year - Silver Dollar City's Bluegrass & BBQ Festival; Branson, Mo.

Best Graphic Design - Ricardo Alessio & Erica Harris (designer & artist), Abigail Washburn (artist), Rounder (label)

Best Liner Notes - Colin Escott (writer), A Mother's Prayer, Ralph Stanley (artist), Rebel (label)

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