The 19th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards will take place on Thursday, October 2, at 8:30 pm CST, at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
I spoke to one of the producers of the Award Show DJ Cindy Baucom, who shared this remark about the choice of McCoury as host ‚Ä¶.
Ned Luberecki and I are both very pleased to have Del McCoury as this year’s Awards Show host. We wanted to select a high-profile artist from the bluegrass family who not only has a rich traditional history, but also is very much focused on today’s bluegrass scene…and Del McCoury certainly fits the bill. His knowledge of the music and its artists will definitely be a plus, but his quick wit will most surely be an added attraction for those in attendance for the Awards Show. This was not a decision that Ned and I took lightly. We talked at length about our options and considered many possibilities. Del McCoury just had all the elements we were searching for in a host.
McCoury had this to say about the honour ‚Ä¶‚Ä¶
The IBMA has been really good to the band and our families from the beginning. So after 50 years in this business, having the opportunity to give a little something back by hosting our music’s biggest night is a special honour. My experience has given me a unique perspective on our industry’s ups and downs, which leads me to believe the best is yet to come. Bluegrass is being welcomed into new musical communities across the world, and on October 2 we get the chance to acknowledge the good work of our peers and celebrate the new opportunities awaiting us in the year to come.
McCoury has had a multi-storied and much decorated career in bluegrass music. He had his first taste of the music as an 11-year old living on a Pennsylvania dairy farm when in 1950 he heard the banjo playing of Earl Scruggs. He hasn’t been the same since. “He put me on fire for music”, McCoury says. The birth of rock’n’roll didn’t deter him and McCoury worked at his banjo playing in a string of Baltimore honkytonks before signing up as a Blue Grass Boy with Bill Monroe in 1963. As has often been told that move lead to him switching to playing rhythm guitar and becoming lead vocalist.
After a while he returned to York County, Pennsylvania where he formed his own band, the Dixie Pals, with whom he travelled the bluegrass circuit, at the same time earning his living in construction and logging. He recorded several fine albums for Rebel, Arhoolie and Rounder Records. During that era he toured in Japan and Great Britain.
In 1987 after son Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and then Robbie (banjo) joined him the band was renamed The Del McCoury Band. They re-located to Nashville in 1992, recruited Mike Bub (bass) and Jason Carter (fiddle) and went on to become a much decorated quintet.
The Del McCoury Band has earned the industry’s top Entertainer of the Year award for an unprecedented nine times from 1994-2004, and overall they are the most awarded group in the history of IBMA. Individually, he has been voted Male Vocalist of the Year on four occasions.
Also the group has been nominated for six Grammys, winning the award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2006.
In October 2003 he was made a cast member of the Grand Ole Opry.
McCoury has made innumerable appearances on national television, featuring on Austin City Limits, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman and PBS Sessions at West 54th; and the band anchored PBS’ first, immensely successful national foray into America’s original roots music as featured performers on the All*Star Bluegrass Celebration. His videos have been programmed on CMT.
His appeal is broad-based; embraced by lovers of jam bands like Leftover Salmon, with whom they have often shared a stage, as well as being well-received at traditional bluegrass festivals and the most prestigious music venues in America‚Äîfrom MerleFest, to Bonnaroo and Carnegie Hall. The Washington Post called Del “a national treasure,” while numerous music publications have credited The Del McCoury Band with increasing the bluegrass “hip factor”, generating much of the genre’s steady upswing in popularity with a more youthful crowd.
The 69-year-old McCoury looks back at his career ‚Ä¶.
I’ve played music forever, but it all just seemed to come together in the last 10 years or so. The thing is, I’ve never changed my style at all. I’ve always done my own thing, always had confidence in myself. I always knew that someone would like my sound.” McCoury says that new fans of bluegrass are spreading the word about the music. “Young people are just wild about bluegrass. This music has grit and young people like that. The general public hears something real in bluegrass. That’s why it’s more popular than ever, I believe.
The International Bluegrass Music Awards are determined by the professional membership of the association and recognize outstanding achievement in the bluegrass genre. The show is syndicated to more than 300 radio stations across the country and around the world, and will be broadcast live on XM Satellite Radio.
National sponsors for the show include Martha White Foods, GACTV, GHS Strings, Pinecastle Records, MerleFest and Deering Banjos.
Tickets may be purchased from IBMA at 888-438-4262 or online at ibma.org.