2012 IBMA Award Nominees

IBMA awardsThe nominees for the 2012 International Bluegrass Music Awards have been announced.

Awards will be distributed at the gala IBMA Awards show on September 27, held at the historic Ryman Theater in Nashville. Tickets are available now online.

And the nominees are:

Entertainer of the Year

  • Dailey & Vincent
  • The Gibson Brothers
  • Alison Krauss & Union Station
  • Steve Martin & Steep Canyon Rangers
  • Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Blue Highway
  • Dailey & Vincent
  • The Gibson Brothers
  • Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
  • Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

Instrumental Group of the Year

  • Blue Highway
  • The Boxcars
  • Sam Bush Band
  • Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper
  • Punch Brothers

Emerging Artist of the Year

  • Darin & Brooke Aldridge
  • Della Mae
  • Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers
  • Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
  • The Darrell Webb Band

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Audie Blaylock
  • Jamie Dailey
  • Vince Gill
  • Russell Moore
  • Dan Tyminski

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Dale Ann Bradley
  • Sonya Isaacs
  • Alison Krauss
  • Claire Lynch
  • Rhonda Vincent

Song of the Year

  • A Far Cry From Lester and Earl by Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, written by Tim Massey, Rick Purdue & Harry Sisk Jr.
  • Dustbowl Children by Alison Krauss & Union Station, written by Peter Rowan
  • Pretty Little Girl From Galax by Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, written by Milan Miller
  • Somewhere South Of Crazy by Dale Ann Bradley, written by Dale Ann Bradley & Pam Tillis
  • Sounds Of Home by Blue Highway, written by Shawn Lane

Album of the Year

  • All In by The Boxcars (artists & producers), Mountain Home Records
  • Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss & Union Station (artists & producers), Rounder Records
  • Prime Tyme by Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out (artists & producers), Rural Rhythm Records
  • Sounds Of Home by Blue Highway (artists & producers), Rounder Records
  • The Heart of a Song by Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice (artists), Wes Easter & Ramblers Choice (producers), Rebel Records

Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year

  • Beyond The Sunset by Doyle Lawson, Russell Moore, Jamie Dailey & Josh Swift (artists); Doyle Lawson (songwriter); Bob Kelley, Jack Campitelli & Darrel Adkins (producers); Rural Rhythm Records
  • I Press Through The Crowd by Dale Ann Bradley (artist), Joe Isaacs (songwriter), Alison Brown (producer), Compass Records
  • I Saw Him Walk Out Of The Sky by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (artists), Dee Gaskin (songwriter), Doyle Lawson (producer), Mountain Home Records
  • Satisfied by Paul Williams & The Victory Trio (artists), Martha Carson (songwriter), Paul Williams (producer), Rebel Records
  • Singing As We Rise by The Gibson Brothers (artists); Joe Newberry (songwriter); Eric Gibson, Mike Barber & Leigh Gibson (producers); Compass Records

Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year

  • Angeline The Baker by the Lonesome River Band (artists & producers), Rural Rhythm Records
  • Carroll County Blues by Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out (artists & producers), Rural Rhythm Records
  • Manzanita by Tony Rice, Josh Williams, Aaron Ramsey, Aubrey Haynie & Rob Ickes (artists); Anthony D. Rice (songwriter); Bob Kelley, Jack Campitelli & Darrel Adkins (producers); Rural Rhythm Records
  • Roaring Creek by Blue Highway (artists & producers), Jason Burleson (songwriter), Rounder Records
  • That’s What She Said by The Boxcars (artists & producers), Adam Steffey (songwriter), Mountain Home Records

Recorded Event of the Year

  • Beyond The Sunset by Doyle Lawson, Russell Moore, Jamie Dailey & Josh Swift (artists); Bob Kelley, Jack Campitelli & Darrel Adkins (producers); Rural Rhythm Records
  • Life Goes On”by Carl Jackson, Ronnie Bowman, Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, Rickey Wasson, Randy Kohrs, D.A. Adkins, Garnet Bowman, Lynn Butler, Ashley Kohrs, Gary Payne, Dale Pyatt, Clay Hess, Alan Bibey, Jay Weaver, Ron Stewart & Jim VanCleve (artists); Bob Kelley, Jack Campitelli & Darrel Adkins (producers); Rural Rhythm Records
  • Monroe by Special Consensus with Josh Williams & Chris Jones (artists); Alison Brown (producer); Compass Records
  • Old Violin by Larry Cordle & Michael Cleveland (artists); Bob Kelley, Jack Campitelli & Darrel Adkins (producers); Rural Rhythm Records
  • Singing As We Rise by The Gibson Brothers (artists); Eric Gibson, Mike Barber & Leigh Gibson (producers); Compass Records

Instrumental Performers of the Year


  • Kristin Scott Benson
  • Ron Block
  • J.D. Crowe
  • Sammy Shelor
  • Ron Stewart


  • Barry Bales
  • Mike Bub
  • Missy Raines
  • Mark Schatz
  • Marshall Wilborn


  • Hunter Berry
  • Jason Carter
  • Michael Cleveland
  • Stuart Duncan
  • Ron Stewart


  • Mike Auldridge
  • Jerry Douglas
  • Rob Ickes
  • Randy Kohrs
  • Phil Leadbetter


  • Tony Rice
  • Kenny Smith
  • Bryan Sutton
  • Doc Watson
  • Josh Williams


  • Wayne Benson
  • Jessie Brock
  • Sam Bush
  • Sierra Hull
  • Adam Steffey


Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year

  • Kyle Cantrell
  • Katy Daley
  • Chris Jones

Bluegrass Event of the Year

  • Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
  • LaRoche Bluegrass Festival
  • ROMP

Bluegrass Print Media Personality of the Year

  • Marty Godbey – Crowe On The Banjo
  • Derek Halsey
  • Ted Lehmann

Songwriter of the year

  • Tom T. and Dixie Hall
  • Donna Ulisse
  • Jon Weisberger

Best Graphic Design for a Recorded Project

  • Bedrock Manufacturing (designer) for Nobody Knows You, by the Steep Canyon Rangers (Rounder Records)
  • Caroline Hadilaksono  (designer) for Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail, by Noam Pikelny (Compass Records)
  • Lynch Graphics (designer), for Home from the Hills, by Jimmy Gaudreau & Moondi Klein (Rebel Records)

Best Liner Notes for a Recorded Project

  • Geoffrey Himes (liner notes), for John Duffey: the Rebel Years: 1962-1977, by John Duffey (Rebel Records)
  • Marian Leighton Levy (liner notes), for Tony Rice: The Bill Monroe Collection, by Tony Rice (Rounder Records)
  • Bill Nowlin (liner notes), for Bill Monroe Centennial Celebration: A Classic Bluegrass Tribute, by Various Artists (Rounder Records)

Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductees

  • Ralph Rinzler
  • Doyle Lawson

IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients 

  • Byron Berline
  • Joe and Lil Cornett
  • Orin Freisen
  • Kitsy Kuykendall
  • Darrell “Pee Wee” Lambert

Congratulations to the nominees and honorees, one and all.

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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.

  • Paul Beard

    Fantastic list of nominees – looking forward to seeing the outcome next month. Best of luck to everyone.

  • Darren Sullivan-Koch

    As usual, relatively predictable and, with very few exceptions, free of controversy or innovation. The membership has spoken! Could no one really be bothered to vote for Andy Hall for dobro? Are blatant cash-grab catalog rehashes really our best opportunities for quality liner notes? Must we continue to nominate artists who’ve been out there for decades in the “Emerging” category? Did Tim Shelton and NewFound Road REALLY get the shaft yet again? These are the things that keep me up at night.

    • I agree. How Tim Shelton is not at least nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year always amazes me.

      • And Tim Stafford for guitar. Is there an anti-Tim bias in IBMA?

        • Dennis Jones

          I voted for Tim 🙂

    • Dennis Jones

      Darren Sullivan-Koch, the choices for liner notes, print media, broadcaster, event, Hall of Fame, Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients and songwriter of the year are chosen by a “committee” or the Board. Membership has nothing to do with them. There’s also another catagory this year for “Up-Coming” artists that’s not even mentioned here that was open to people not even members of The IBMA.

  • RJ Buckingham

    I know what you mean about who and what didn’t make the final list; but I’m delighted to see Frank Solivan and Audie Blaylock make the cut this year. Best of luck to them, and to all the nominees.

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  • Ivor Trueman

    Looks like a good year for the Musicians Against Childhood Cancer, “Life Goes On” project!

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  • Jim Cole

    Yawn – same nominees, year after year. Of the 64 nominees in the major categories, 52 are the same as last year, 6 of the 13 categories have the exact same nominees as last year, and only one category has a majority of nominees that are different. There’s so much great, new bluegrass music being made by so many artists. I think it’s a shame to see the same few honored year after year, and I also think it doesn’t do anything to help broaden the bluegrass audience.

    — Jim

    2012, 2011
    Dailey & Vincent, Dailey & Vincent, same
    The Gibson Brothers, The Gibson Brothers, same
    Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers, Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers, same
    Alison Krauss & Union Station, Boxcars, different
    Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Grascals, different

    2012, 2011
    Blue Highway, Blue Highway, same
    Dailey & Vincent, Dailey & Vincent, same
    The Gibson Brothers, The Gibson Brothers, same
    Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, same
    Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, same

    2012, 2011
    Blue Highway, Blue Highway, same
    The Boxcars, The Boxcars, same
    Sam Bush Band, Sam Bush Band, same
    Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, same
    Punch Brothers, Infamous Stringdusters, different

    2012, 2011
    Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, same
    Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, same
    Della Mae, Balsam Range, different
    Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Sierra Hull & Highway 111, different
    Darrell Webb Band, Boxcars, different

    2012, 2011
    Jamie Dailey, Jamie Dailey, same
    Russell Moore, Russell Moore, same
    Dan Tyminski, Dan Tyminski, same
    Vince Gill, Leigh Gibson, different
    Audie Blaylock, Josh Williams, different

    2012, 2011
    Dale Ann Bradley, Dale Ann Bradley, same
    Sonya Isaacs, Sonya Isaacs, same
    Alison Krauss, Alison Krauss, same
    Claire Lynch, Claire Lynch, same
    Rhonda Vincent, Rhonda Vincent, same

    2012, 2011
    Kristin Scott Benson, Kristin Scott Benson, same
    Ron Block, Ron Block, same
    J.D. Crowe, J.D. Crowe, same
    Sammy Shelor, Sammy Shelor, same
    Ron Stewart, Ron Stewart, same
    , Terry Baucom (there was one add’l nominee in 2011)

    2012, 2011
    Barry Bales, Barry Bales, same
    Mike Bub, Mike Bub, same
    Missy Raines, Missy Raines, same
    Mark Schatz, Mark Schatz, same
    Marshall Wilborn, Marshall Wilborn, same

    2012, 2011
    Hunter Berry, Hunter Berry, same
    Jason Carter, Jason Carter, same
    Michael Cleveland, Michael Cleveland, same
    Stuart Duncan, Stuart Duncan, same
    Ron Stewart, Ron Stewart, same

    2012, 2011
    Mike Auldridge, Mike Auldridge, same
    Jerry Douglas, Jerry Douglas, same
    Rob Ickes, Rob Ickes, same
    Randy Kohrs, Randy Kohrs, same
    Phil Leadbetter, Phil Leadbetter, same

    2012, 2011
    Tony Rice, Tony Rice, same
    Kenny Smith, Kenny Smith, same
    Bryan Sutton, Bryan Sutton, same
    Josh Williams, Josh Williams, same
    Doc Watson, Cody Kilby, different

    2012, 2011
    Wayne Benson, Wayne Benson, same
    Sam Bush, Sam Bush, same
    Sierra Hull, Sierra Hull, same
    Adam Steffey, Adam Steffey, same
    Jesse Brock, Ronnie McCoury, different

    2012, 2011
    Katy Daley, Katy Daley, same
    Chris Jones, Chris Jones, same
    Kyle Cantrell, Tim White, different

    • Darren Sullivan-Koch

      Brilliant, depressing work, Jim! It seems like some sort of term-limits or other limiting statutes need to be introduced. Otherwise, Bluegrass will be even MORE widely known as a genre that rejects invention, thrives on a good-ol’-boy system, and causes young talent to seek other genres within which to express themselves.

      • Jim Cole

        I think term limits or something like it would be a good idea; e.g., you can only appear on the ballot for 3 consecutive years, then you can’t be on it for 2 years, or something like that. Rob Ickes is a great guy and a great Dobro player, but since he’s won the award 12 or 14 times, I doubt he’d mind stepping aside for a few years so someone else could be on the ballot and get some acclaim.

        When I said above that only one category had a majority of new nominees (3 new, 2 repeats), I didn’t realize it was the Emerging Artist category, which is the category you’d hope would have mostly new nominees each year.

      • Jon Weisberger

        Playing devil’s advocate here, or at least trying to zero in on the critical issues…how will artificially limiting the ability of bluegrass industry participants to vote for whom they believe are the best nominees serve to give the bluegrass genre a reputation for welcoming invention, rejecting a good-ol’-boy system and inviting young talent to remain in the genre? Putting a fence around a pasture doesn’t give cattle less of a reputation for wandering, does it?

        I should point out, too, that if you take a broader view than just this year and last, there’s considerably more variety, particularly in the winners (as opposed to the nominees). How does that factor into assessing the extent of problems?

        • Jim Cole

          Jon, I realize that term limits are essentially a form of regulation of a what is now a relative free market. But in my view, the market doesn’t appear to be functioning well at all. While the same artist doesn’t usually win year after year (Rob Ickes being the exception), the vast majority of the nominees come from the same small groups, year after year, not just this year and last year.

          I’m a fan, not an insider, so I don’t know much about how the nomination process works. Thus, I don’t know if the results of that process are:

          A) Because the voters don’t make the effort to become well-informed about which artists made note-worthy contributions to the music and the industry this year, or

          B) Whether record companies and others have so much at stake that they lobby behind-the-scenes to make sure their top artists get the nominations, or

          C) Most voters think things like, “Well Scott Vestal really played more brilliant, innovative banjo for Sam Bush and others again this year, but he still doesn’t deserve any recognition.”

          But I do know that I used to enjoy listening to the awards show every year, but I didn’t listen last year, and I’m not going to listen this year. And I also know that on the very rare occasions that I meet someone who says they listen to bluegrass music, 19 times out of 20, the intersection of the “bluegrass” they’re listening to (Mumford & Sons, Red Molly, the Wailing Jennys, etc.) and the music that most IBMA members would call bluegrass is the null set. And, more and more of the music I listen to most often (‘Dusters, Sarah Jarosz, etc.) is not usually recognized as bluegrass by IBMA (though the ‘Dusters did get one nomination last year, and Punch Brothers one this year, so that’s a little progress). So it seems to be that IBMA and its awards are becoming less and less relevant to what’s actually happening in the music. Would anyone care about the Grammys if the best artist nominees every year, year after year, were the Rolling Stones, The Who, U2, KISS, and the Eagles?

          • Jim Cole

            I guess there are two other possible explanations for the voting:

            D) “Wish they’d put Flatt & Scruggs on the ballot. They’re my artists of the year – forever.”

            E) “We made King Wilkie the Emerging Artist of the Year, and then their music went off the deep end. Better play it safe this year.”

          • Dennis Jones

            In reality, the opposite of the real Bluegrass world is happening. Traditional/Contemporary Bluegrass fans are very much vocal in their knowledge of what “Big Tent” acts constitute. The real Bluegrass fan listens to the groups nominated, go to their shows and buy their merchandise. Look at the very charts that are on this web site and Bluegrass Unlimited, they reflect real Bluegrass fans and what is played on Bluegrass radio and internet streams. The somewhat less than 2000 Professional voting members of The IBMA have readily identified what Bluegrass is year after year. It’s the music that follows the template from The 1946/47 sessions and produced the genre. It’s very plain that The Music is being represented by the real fans of the genre, radio/internet airplay and the voting members of The IBMA.
            Your circle of friends are in the minority if they are thinking 19 times out of 20 they’re listening to Mumford & Sons, Red Molly, the Wailing Jenny’s, Sarah Jarosz etc. and calling it Bluegrass. These acts don’t even call themselves Bluegrass, why would anyone else?

        • Dennis Jones

          Jon, have Deb get the smelling salts ready. You are right 🙂

          • Jim Cole

            Of course Sarah Jarosz isn’t bluegrass; I know that just as well as you do. And I’m sure you’re right that the vast majority of bluegrass fans would agree that Red Molly, et al, are not bluegrass. But the people who listen to those groups are all potential bluegrass fans, and there are a lot of them, way more than all of us bluegrass fans.

            So when someone says, “Hey, I’ve been listening to some great bluegrass lately – Sarah Jarosz,” do you look them in the eye and inform them that they most definitely are not listening to bluegrass? Having been shot down like that by a real bluegrass aficionado, are they likely to get more interested in bluegrass, maybe tag along to a concert? Probably not.

            One could say, “That’s great! Check out a group called ‘Crooked Still.’ I think you might like them, too.” Crooked Still probably doesn’t fit your definition of bluegrass either, but it’s closer than Sarah Jarosz. And maybe that potential bluegrass fan will eventually make their way from Sarah Jarosz to Crooked Still to Dale Ann Bradley to Rhonda Vincent.

            Maybe bluegrass doesn’t care if it ever draws in those fans. Ok. But does it care about someone like me, who pays for an XM subscription to listen to bluegrass, donates to bluegrasscountry.org, buys CDs from artists and from County Sales, and goes to concerts? Again, maybe not, since I would argue that the Infamous Stringdusters are bluegrass. Every time one of the bluegrass police tells me that I’m not a – to use your expression – “real Bluegrass fan,” and every time the IBMA nominations almost completely ignore artists who don’t exactly fit the original mold, I feel a little less connected to bluegrass. Keep doing that long enough, and you end up with a lot of empty seats under your big tent.


          • Jon Weisberger

            J Cole, you are aware that the Infamous Stringdusters have won multiple IBMA awards, aren’t you? It hardly seems right to say that IBMA members have ignored them simply because they didn’t get nominated for anything this year.

    • Dennis Jones

      The cream rises to the top, always will.

  • David Morris

    There were a lot differences between my final choices and the announced nominees but I wouldn’t change much about the process. If the day comes when I win an IBMA award, I want it to be because I was considered the best, not the best of those who were eligible while the really good pickers were in the penalty box for being too good.

    There is one change I would love to see, though — limiting the emerging artist category to players and bands who are actually emerging. It should be more like rookie of the year, not for bands or players who have been around for years but just happen to be in a new band.

    • Jon Weisberger

      It’s hard – I would say essentially impossible – to write criteria for an Emerging Artist award that excludes everyone folks generally agree ought to be excluded while including everyone folks generally agree ought to be included. The past practice of having a committee select the slate of candidates for nomination in this category – that is, skipping the “blank slate” first round of member-generated names – was an effort to address this, and to my way of thinking still is likely to produce the best results.

      • Dennis Jones

        The last thing we the members of The IBMA needs is another “award” decided by a secret handpicked “committee”.

      • David Morris

        I don’t have a problem with a committee picking the initial list of contenders for the emerging artist award. In fact, I’d love to see it. The panel could pick 10 or a dozen, maybe, voters could vote for five in the second round, and then pick the winner out of the five finalists.

        I would do one other thing. I would identify the members of the initial screening committee, which I hope would include some folks who aren’t among the usual suspects. Maybe even, dare I say it, a non-Nashville journalist who covers bluegrass.

  • Jim Cole

    Jon, I know that the Infamous Stringdusters have won several awards in the past. My point was not to complain that any particular artist was or was not nominated this year. Rather, it seems to me that most – but I agree not all – of the nominations go to artists who have reached some life or career milestone (Doc Watson and J.D. Crowe are examples this year), or come from the same small group that seems to get nominated almost every year.

    The milestone nominations are great; I think that’s one of the things any annual award should recognize, and I hope that Doc and J.D. win their respective categories this year. But I think it’s a shame that, with a few exceptions every year, the other slots seem to get filled by the same folks, and other artists who are also great seldom seem to get recognized with a nomination. I’m not saying that anyone who got nominated had a “bad year,” or didn’t deserve the nomination, just that the process seems to regularly exclude a lot of artists who are also deserving.

    And I’m not claiming that this is true of all the non-milestone nominations, either. Almost every year, an artist who had not been nominated in any of the recent years puts out a well-regarded album, gets nominated, and sometimes wins. Claire Lynch a couple of years ago is an example of this. She put out her first new album in several years, had some hit songs, and won Female Vocalist for the first time in a long time.

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