The Boston Bluegrass Union has announced the recipients of their 2017 BBU Heritage Awards. These honors are bestowed each year upon artists and industry professionals whose work has involved substantial contributions to the furtherance of bluegrass music in New England. The all-volunteer organization has been operating in Boston for the past 40 years, and puts on the annual Joe Val Bluegrass Festival in nearby Framingham, MA each year.
Chosen for the awards this year are Candi Sawyer, promoter of the Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival in Tunbridge, VT, and Mike Kropp, noted northeastern banjo player who passed away in 2015. Both will be honored for lifetime commitments to the music.
For Sawyer, bluegrass has been a big part of her life since she was a small girl. Her grandfather was a show producer who put on concerts in the Weston Recreation Area in Weston, VT. Candi assisted him for many years before launching the Jenny Brook festival in 2001. Since that time, she has guided it through tremendous growth and the move to a new site, all while dealing with the debilitating effects of Multiple Sclerosis.
Even with her illness, Candi remains an active musician, performing on bass with her husband in the Seth Sawyer Band.
Mike Kropp had worn a great many hats in the music world during his career. In addition to performing as a member of Northern Lights in the 1980s, he did A&R work with Columbia Records, owned and operated his own music store, and served as a manufacturers representative for companies like Fishman, Remo, Hughes & Kettner, Modulus basses, and NS Design.
Towards the end of his life, Mike managed the popular Banjo and Mandolin Camps North in Massachusetts, until complications from pancreatic cancer forced him to retire. He died in November of 2015 from pneumonia. Through all this time, Kropp was a cherished figure in the New England banjo community.
The 2017 BBU Heritage Awards will be given out during next month’s Joe Val festival, held at the Sheraton Framingham, February 17-19.
Congratulations Mike and Candi!