IBMA Travelogue #8

Our own intrepid correspondent, Richard Thompson [bluegrassmercury], spent a week in Nashville in early October, having traveled from the UK to attend the IBMA convention. It was his first trip to IBMA in 20 years, and we thought that his post-IBMA impressions and reflections would be of interest both to others who were likewise in attendance, and our many readers who would love to have been there.

bluegrassmercury Travelogue # 8
By Richard F Thompson
Nashville, Tenn. Thursday, October 2

Dailey & Vincent accept one of their many IBMA Awards in 2008 - photo by Karen ThompsonThursday was dominated by the prize-giving events, a Special Awards Luncheon and, in the evening, The IBMA Awards Show at the Ryman Auditorium.

Firstly though, I attended the Town Hall Meeting, one of about 60 people. There was a lively discussion about a number of issues, including requests for handouts before or at WOB sessions; the structure of showcases, official and unofficial, and their timing; the new strategic plan; Leadership Bluegrass; the International Summit; the impact of US economic downturn; and constituency meetings.

After the meeting Karen and I went up to the Renaissance Ballroom to join others who were already seated at tables ready for the luncheon and awaiting the announcement of the winners of the special awards.

Among the awards given were those to the five individuals or organizations that were, in the eyes of the IBMA, deserving of a Distinguished Achievement Award. Those five were, in order of receipt – Art Menius (presented by Lance LeRoy), Bill Harrell (presented by former band member of Harrell’s, Larry Stephenson), The Banjo Newsletter (presented by Tony Trischka to the Nitchie family, who run the magazine following founder Hub Nitchie’s passing), The Ernest Tubb Record Shop (presented to the current owner of the business, David McCormick, by Eddie Stubbs) and, jointly, Joe Carr and Alan Munde for their work as educators at the
at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, and as musicians (presented to Alan Munde by Mike Bub). More information about these recipients can be found at the IBMA website.

Interspersed with the presentations of the Distinguished Achievement Awards were presentations of some special category awards. The winners this year were, again in order of receipt, my friend Gary B. Reid (presented by Alison Brown) for Best Liner Notes for a Recorded Project – The Stanley Brothers: The Definitive Collection (1947-1966), The Stanley Brothers, Time Life. There wasn’t any surprise there; Gary is an undisputed expert on the Stanley Brothers’ music and he writes well. It’s the third time that he has won this particular award.

Following that was the announcement that Greg Carr and Sarah Holman had won the Best Graphic Design for a Recorded Project award for What The, Pete Wernick & Flexigrass, Niwot Records. Chris Stuart won the Print Media Person of the Year award (presented by last year’s winners, Brance and John, hosts of this website). Stuart’s award is extremely well merited in my opinion.

The Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year award was won by Kyle Cantrell of Bluegrass Junction, XM Satellite Radio, (presented by fellow DJ Chris Jones). I was hoping that Katy Daley would have got that particular prize. But, being in England, I don’t listen to XM Satellite Radio.

Lastly, there was the award for Bluegrass Event of the Year – won by the 29th Annual Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival; Brunswick, Maine; Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2007 (presented by Bob Cornett and received by Patti Crocker).

We had another quick wander around the Exhibit Hall to see if we had missed anything or anybody.

So, since we had an invitation to attend the pre-awards show party we headed to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, four blocks away, to get ‘dolled up.’

The party was lots of fun; we spent most of our time taking pictures, rather than eating what we selected from a fine buffet. Lots of people were dressed in their finest clothes and well-perfumed.

The Awards Show began promptly at 8:30pm with The Steep Canyon Rangers singing their excellent hit song, Loving Pretty Women, and joined towards the end of the performance by three female clog dancers. Great entertainment from the start. The show was hosted this year by one of the stalwarts of bluegrass, Del McCoury, who introduced Seirra Hull and Ron Block to announce the winners of Emerging Artist; Dailey & Vincent.

Following that, Barry Bales was presented with the award for the top bass player of the year. Thereafter there was a musical interlude with performances by Blue Highway, singing Through The Window Of A Train, and The Grascals, with their ‘grassified’ version of Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line.

Then Terry Baucom and Sonya Isaacs announced the winner of the Gospel Performance award; By The Mark, written by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and performed by Dailey & Vincent. The presentation of the Fiddle Player of the Year award to Michael Cleveland was followed by a performance by the Steel Drivers’ favorite Drinking Dark Whisky.

Claire Lynch joined Larry Cordle on stage to announce the winner of the Instrumental Album of the Year; Andy Hall’s Sound Of The Slide Guitar and followed that by presenting the award for the top banjo to Kristin Scott Benson. Hearty congratulations are very much in order here, as she is only the second female to capture this particular prize. Very well done!

A nominee for Entertainer of the Year award, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver played a tribute to some of those in bluegrass music in the past 60 years or so with Monroe’s Mandolin.

Although they were not present on stage, the winners of the Distinguished Merit awards were all acknowledged at this point.

The entertainment continued with a performance by The Del McCoury Band of the topical Moneyland. Given the recessionary period in which we are in currently, was the writing and recording of this song prescient also?

Next, the members of the Swedish group G2 Bluegrass Band got to open the envelope to tell the world that the winner of the Recorded Event of the Year was Everett Lilly & Everybody and Their Brother, which featured Everett Lilly, a few members of the Lilly family and their many friends. Following that they announced that Josh Williams had won the Guitar Player of the Year award.

One of the highlights of the evening was the performance by Dailey & Vincent of the award-winning song By The Mark. This was followed by the acknowledgment of the winners of the special awards, presented at lunch time.

At this point, Alecia Nugent and Bradley Walker announced the winner of Female Vocalist; Dale Ann Bradley, who was already the queen of bluegrass, having won this same award last year. Subsequently the duo heralded the already nine-times winner of the Dobro ® Player of the Year; Rob Ickes.

An audience favorite, the Dan Tyminski Band came on stage and sang the Patrick McDougal song and the title track from their 2008 CD release, Wheels.

Another of the highlights of the evening was the introduction of the first of the two inductions into the IBMA Hall of Fame, namely to the late Charles K Wolfe. The honor was acknowledged by his brother, Gary, accompanied by Wolfe’s wife and two daughters.

Carrie Hassler and Josh Williams announced two awards, firstly for Male Vocalist, with the winner not being a great surprise; a very emotional Jamie Dailey, and then that for the Mandolin Player of the Year; Adam Steffey.

Next there was a performance by The Infamous Stringdusters of Three Days In July, a great song about the Civil War battle at Gettysburg written by Jon Weisberger and Mark Simos.

Following that, Kathy Mattea and Tony Trischka announced the winners of the Song of the Year award won by Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford for Through The Window Of A Train as recorded by Blue Highway. Then for the Instrumental Group; Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper.

Eddie Stubbs returned to the stage to honour the second inductee of the night to the Hall of Fame, the original bluegrass ambassador, Bill Clifton. During the introduction we had the pleasure of listening to a short medley of some of Clifton’s best recorded work. Since there had been an International Summit during the week, honoring Clifton at this time was a masterstroke, coincidental or not.

My great friends Lynn Morris and Marshall Wilborn announced the winners of the Album of the Year award and the winners were Dailey & Vincent for their eponymous release. Dailey and Vincent were called back immediately to receive Vocal Group of the Year. It wasn’t the last time that they were to return to stage!

At this point Dale Ann Bradley gave a stellar performance of Julia Belle, the Chris Stuart song written for the banjo player in his band, Backcountry, Janet Beazley.

Vince Gill announced the winner of Entertainer of the Year award, after quipping that it was “a good year to be called Vincent.” Inevitably, I think, the prize went to Dailey & Vincent.

Del McCoury closed with a comment and to introduce a finale from Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, who played a medley in a tribute to the Holy Trinity of bluegrass music.

As can be seen above Dailey & Vincent took an unprecedented six awards. Was the acclamation louder with each award that they received? Maybe, it was unrestrained at the announcement of the Entertainer of the Year award.

And so to party …. Since Karen and I were celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary we thought that we would mark the occasion with a drink. Thus we ventured into the bar of the Renaissance Hotel, had a couple of glasses of wine each and enjoyed listening to the jammers, chatting and enjoying the craic.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.