2017 Momentum Award winners

The IBMA presented their 2017 Momentum Awards this afternoon at the Raleigh Convention Center during a luncheon for attendees of the World Of Bluegrass Business Conference. Interspersed with the awards were performances by a trio of showcase acts that demonstrated the wide variety of bluegrass styles being performed by young artists in today’s market.

The Momentum Awards are designed to highlight artists and business people in the early years of their careers. Though not specifically restricted to people in their twenties, the nature of the categories tend to focus on these folks, other than the festival and business awards.

And the 2017 winners are…

  • Industry Involvement and Achievement – Ernie and Debi Evans of Evans Media Source
  • Festival/Event/Venue – Carolina In The Fall Music and Food Festival in Wilkesboro, NC
  • Mentor – Darin Aldridge with Darin & Brooke Aldridge
  • Instrumentalist (3 winners) – Carly Arrowood, Casey Campbell, and Tristan Scroggins
  • Vocalist – Jesse Smathers with Lonesome River Band
  • Band – Mile Twelve

Congratulations to all the winners, and all of the worthy nominees.

The entertainment at the luncheon was provided by Mile Twelve, Fireside Collective, and Po’ Ramblin’ Boys. All in the same relative age group, their approaches to the music were radically different. Mile Twelve, who came on first, showed how the newer impulses of contemporary popular music can be blended smoothly with the traditions of bluegrass. They featured a mix of classic songs and their own original compositions, mostly taken from their upcoming debut album, Onwards, due for release next month.

Fireside Collective had a much more contemporary approach, though a bit more jam-oriented than Mile Twelve’s more meticulous arrangements. You can see that much of the sound was developed working clubs and concerts, as they have a polished, punchy, and showy stage presence. Highlights were their lengthy take on Jerry Douglas’ Choctaw Hayride, and their driving cover of Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al. Oddly, they aren’t the only progressive bluegrass group performing that tune just now.

The final set came from Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, who demonstrated once again that the old style of bluegrass music isn’t in need of updating. Their energetic, and unapologetically vintage sound is a carefully rehearsed throwback to the bluegrass and country music of the ’50s and ’60s, and they brought down the house with a fast-paced selection of new and older material. Guitarist Josh Rinkel delivered a sparkling version of Carter Stanley’s Stone Walls And Steel Bars, as did CJ Lewandowski on the George Jones mega-hit, She Thinks I Still Care. Banjo picker Jereme Brown sticks to the old time style, and showed that hard-driving, forward roll banjo is just as exciting as it ever was, going back to when Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley were youngsters themselves.

And their bedazzled string ties were sublime. These guys get better each time I see them live, and Jasper Lorentzen is among the most highly entertaining personalities in our music. He doesn’t say much but the way he works that bass is a treat to watch.

Hats off to IBMA for making time for a special showcase of young grassers!

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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.