The 17th annual International Bluegrass Music Association Awards were presented in Nashville on Thursday (10/4/07) at the Grand Ole Opry House. The awards featured some old favorites and new -- and unusual -- winners.
The Grascals, who began their career with the 2005 Emerging Artist award, won "Entertainer of the Year" for the second consecutive year. The band, featuring members who are veterans of Lonesome Standard Time, the Osborne Brothers' band, and Garth Brooks' band, is riding high on the success of its second Rounder album, Long List of Heartaches.
Another perennial winner is Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. The legendary group picked up their seventh consecutive Vocal Group of the Year award, and their fifth Gospel Recorded Performance award for "He Lives in Me."
Singer/songwriter/guitarist/DJ Chris Jones picked up two awards as well, one as co-writer of Song of the Year "Fork in the Road" (recorded by the Infamous Stringdusters, the band awarded the Emerging Artist of the Year award), and one as Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year for his nightly show on Sirius satellite's bluegrass channel.
Rob Ickes, who played in the Whitstein Brothers band with Jones in the mid-90s, was named Dobro Player of the Year for the ninth time. This makes him the most honored musician in IBMA history. (In the 17-year history of the awards, there have only been three recipients of the Dobro Player honor: Ickes, Jerry Douglas, and Phil Leadbetter.)
Blind fiddler Michael Cleveland was named Best Fiddler for the fifth time. Sam Bush, who hosted the awards ceremony, was named Mandolin Player for the fourth time, while Tony Rice picked up his sixth Guitar Player of the Year award. Missy Raines was named Bass Player of the Year for the seventh time, while the instrumental awards were rounded out by first-time winner Tony Trischka as Banjo Player of the Year.
Trischka's project on Rounder Records, Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, was honored as the Recorded Event of the Year. This award means that actor/comedian Steve Martin has an IBMA trophy, as he was one of the banjo players on the project.
The program also inducted two legends into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Howard Watts, who performed under the name Cedric Rainwater (1913-1970), was a member of the "classic" Blue Grass Boys line-up behind Bill Monroe that featured Chubby Wise, Lester Flatt, and Earl Scruggs. He also played bass with Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys and Hank Snow. Carl Story (1916-1995) was also a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys before entering the service during World War II. It is his post-Monroe work that earned him the title "Father of Bluegrass Gospel Music" and his place in the Hall of Fame.
The IBMA Awards conclude the annual IBMA World of Bluegrass Convention, which is geared toward bluegrass performers and industry professionals. A three-day "Fan Fest" concludes the week-long event.