Dear IBMA,

Please stop asking the most accomplished artists in our business to read corny lines from a teleprompter, or to engage in cringe-inducing banter for the sake of a light-hearted awards show. Last night’s production made Hee-Haw look like high art.

Nashville is lousy with writers and show business professionals. I know that money is tight, and that a volunteer production staff works very hard to pull off a tightly-paced presentation with appeal for a wide audience, but folks… it’s just not working. It’s long past time to bring in professionals with a proven record of producing successful shows.

Picking is easy; comedy is hard. Let’s try and preserve the dignity of our music and its top practitioners by placing them in a position to shine rather than shrink on this, our biggest annual stage.

Your friend,


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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.

  • StoneFingers

    I totally agree! And here’s a thought. How about televising the event?? At least get it streamed over the web!
    It was nice that a few media outlets broadcast the audio, but we live in the 21rst century people – my 6 year old can stream live video of the web! Let’s catch up!

  • Dennis Jones

    +1 here John.

  • Ted Lehmann

    Not only is it difficult to write for presenters at an awards show, it’s nigh on impossible. Check out the Academy Award show or the Emmies. While the host is sometimes amusing and sometimes out-of-bounds, the presenters are often awkward and/or silly. The format is more the problem than the writing. Performances this year were snappy, the show (mostly) kept moving along, and it was wonderful to see people like Sonny Osborne making a presentation. Effective use of multi-media and fast pacing would make the show a much more rewarding visual experience, but there was lots of joy there on Thursday night. – Ted

  • Hi Ted.

    I’m very surprised to see a writer suggest that the banter at the awards show couldn’t have been more cogently written. There is no ironclad entertainment law insisting that this sort of drivel is de rigueur for an awards presentation.

    My concern is for the artists being asked to read this pap, which I assure you is not pleasant for them. As in past years, I have already spoken to several since last week’s show who have expressed their discomfort.


  • Reid Toth

    John, I have to agree with you. I wasn’t there so I thought maybe some of the more “uncomfortable” moments were due to hearing only the audio portion. It sounds as if that wasn’t the case, however, which is a shame. I was particularly disappointed that the reading of the list of names of those bluegrassers whom we’ve lost this past year wasn’t broadcast on the audio portion. This year’s list included the name of my former teacher and I wish I could have heard it. Instead, SiriusXm broadcast a pre-recorded interview with one of the winners while the list was being read on stage.

    A webcast should be pretty easy to pull off. Maybe we will see that in the future.