2011 Bluegrass Grammy

And the Best Bluegrass Album is… Mountain Soul II from Patty Loveless.

Anybody starting to see a pattern emerging where the bluegrass Grammy is concerned? There was a great deal of excitement when this category was added a few years ago, but while working bluegrass artists generally receive nominations, the winner seems to consistently be a country or pop artist who has dabbled in the world of grass.

But no hard feelings… Congratulations to Patty for this award!

Congrats as well to Carolina Chocolate Drops who won the Best Traditional Folk Album for Genuine Negro Jig.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

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  • nobanjotom

    While Patty Loveless is an outstanding singer who does great bluegrass, you have to realize, this is what happens when Nashville gets their hands on any form of music. The people at the Grammys don’t know Bluegrass from Butterbeans. They would never consider the working traditional style bands unless they overwhelmed them like Ralph Stanley with the “Oh Brother” thing. The powers that be will not be satisfied until they destroy traditional bluegrass and turn it into something undescribable. I hear people say the music benefits from change and evolution. That may be true, but change or evolving results in something different from what you started with. I’m not saying it is bad, but just because it has a banjo, fiddle, or mandolin doesn’t mean it is bluegrass. Remember what Clint Eastwood said in “Outlaw Josey Wales” “Don’t pi$$ down my back and tell me it’s raining.” We have been getting stinky wet backs from Nashville and the “wheels” in control of our music for years.

  • Jon Weisberger

    I don’t think that’s a very fruitful or accurate way of looking at it. For one thing, the bluegrass Grammy wasn’t added “a few years ago,” it was added more than 20 years ago. For another, it’s typically been won by an artist primarily identified as a bluegrass artist; multiple winners include Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder (5); AKUS (4, plius 1 for Alison on her own); and the Nashville Bluegrass Band (2). Carl Jackson & John Starling won one, Bill Monroe won one, the True Life Blues compilation won one , the Great Dobro Sessions won one. That’s 2/3 of the awards. So in point of fact, the winner has consistently – your word – been an artist identified first and foremost with the world of bluegrass. Others have been the exception, not the rule.

    Furthermore, I don’t think it’s fair to say that Jim Lauderdale, or Patty Loveless, or Dolly Parton – or even Steve Martin – has done nothing more than “dabble in the world of grass.” Steve Martin was playing – and recording bluegrass – at a time when many of today’s working bluegrass musicians hadn’t been born, and he’s been out touring hard, playing bluegrass, for more than a year. Patty Loveless’s first appearance on an IBMA award-winning album was 20 years ago (and her husband, who’s produced all of her bluegrass albums, including this one, produced several albums for Bill Monroe and played on one of the genre’s classic records more than 30 years ago); Jim Lauderdale’s first album ever made was one done with Roland White, and he’s put out multiple bluegrass albums, appeared frequently with a bluegrass band at the Station Inn, etc.

    What I find more interesting is that the removal of the Bluegrass Album award from the Country category and its placement in the new American Roots category (alongside Americana, folk, blues, etc.) awards was held by some people to be a move that was going to make this kind of outcome less likely, as the roots category voters were supposed to be more knowledgeable about bluegrass than the country category voters. But as far as I can tell, all it’s done is reduce the amount of publicity for the bluegrass Grammy and for bluegrass artists, who are now scattered across more categories (since they still regularly appear in categories like Country Instrumental) than they formerly were.

    I appreciate the great coverage that Bluegrass Today gives to all the facets of our music, but I think you’re just wrong on this one.

  • No need to be so defensive, Jon.

    My point is that these awards, like all similar ones, recognize celebrity more than musical achievement. That is true across all the categories.

    I don’t suggest that the winners are not worthy, but that the voters choose based on spectacle and notoriety.

  • Jon Weisberger

    “My point is that these awards, like all similar ones, recognize celebrity more than musical achievement.”

    OK, but my original response was to the original post, and that’s not what the original post said. Besides, I still don’t agree ;-). I’m not in favor of ascribing results I agree with to sound motives and results I disagree with to unsound ones. If Ricky Skaggs’ Grammys recognize his musical achievements (and I think they do), and AKUS’s recognize theirs (and I think they do), then I have no problem thinking that Patty Loveless’s Grammy recognizes hers.

    By the way, did you notice that the album which earned Mr. Monroe his Bluegrass Grammy was produced by the same guy who produced Mountain Soul II? I think that’s kind of neat!

  • fdwil111

    Come on folks, this is an excellent album. It has good song selection, excellent arrangements, and Patty’s voice at her best. I agree that there were other excellent albums released and nominated, but this was a good selection.

  • Jon… I’ll leave you to suppose that all of the voters listened carefully to all of the nominated projects, and then made a considered judgement based on their professional opinion.

  • dsmalls

    …I think what’s really in play here is the fact that there is a very sizable block of Grammy voters in Nashville, and they tend to vote for people that they know. So artists with a history in commercial country music and a strong Nashville presence (like Skaggs, Loveless, Lauderdale, AKUS, Carl Jackson, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band) get recognized. It’s also perhaps why bands like The SteelDrivers and Daily and Vincent — who are well-liked in Nashville but not as known by music industry folks nation-wide — get nominated, but don’t tend to win.

  • howlinhog

    I listened to some clips from Patty’s new album, and it sounded just like what I would hear at any given Bluegrass Festival.
    However I would rather have had Peter Rowan win the award, certainly a lot more talent was involved in the making of it.
    Congratulations Patty, I’ll be buying a copy of yours and Peters.