Once a year, usually in October, the bluegrass world gathers in Raleigh, North Carolina for the annual International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass Conference. There are seminars and workshops, showcase performances, a two-day festival, film showings, kids’ activities, a street fair, an exhibit hall, and the annual Bluegrass Music Awards Show in which the equivalent of Bluegrass Grammys are awarded to the best of the best. Let’s take a look at this year’s winners.
Entertainer of the Year: The Earls of Leicester
Female Vocalist of the Year: Rhonda Vincent
Male Vocalist of the Year: Shawn Camp
Vocal Group of the Year: Balsam Range
Instrumental Group of the Year: The Earls of Leicester
Song of the Year: “Moon Over Memphis,” Balsam Range
Album of the Year: The Earls of Leicester, produced by Jerry Douglas
Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year: “Who Will Sing for Me?,” The Earls of Leicester
Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year: The Three Bells, Jerry Douglas, Mike Auldridge, Rob Ickes
Emerging Artist of the Year: Becky Buller
Recorded Event of the Year: Southern Flavor; Becky Buller, with Peter Rowan; Michael Feagan; Buddy Spicher; Ernie Sykes; Roland White; and Blake Williams
Banjo Player of the Year: Rob McCoury
Bass Player of the Year: Tim Surrett
Dobro Player of the Year: Jerry Douglas
Fiddle Player of the Year: Michael Cleveland
Guitar Player of the Year: Bryan Sutton
Mandolin Player of the Year: Jesse Brock
The Earls of Leicester, formed by dobro player Jerry Douglas (Alison Krauss and Union Station) to showcase the music of the seminal 1950s and ’60s group Flatt and Scruggs, swept the top honors, wining the coveted Entertainer of the Year award as well as Instrumental Group of the Year, Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year, and Album of the Year. Lead singer Shawn Camp also took the award for Male Vocalist of the Year, and Jerry Douglas took the award for Dobro Player of the Year. That’s an impressive five awards!
Jerry Douglass reports that he heard Flatt and Scruggs in the 1950s–’60s as a kid and wanted to recreate that music for the current younger generation. So, in his effort to recreate Flatt and Scruggs he started with the play on words in the band’s name—the “Earls”, as in Earl Scruggs, of “Leicester” (pronounced “Lester”) as in Lester Flatt. The group wears suits and ties like Flatt and Scruggs did and does an outstanding job of recreating the look, feel, and music of Flatt and Scruggs. Some readers may have seen this great group at their appearance last year at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.
Other key wins went to perennial favorite, and perhaps the hardest working woman in bluegrass, Rhonda Vincent for Female Vocalist of the Year while Balsam Range took the prize for Song of the Year.
Congrats to all! If you would like to hear a live rebroadcast of the awards show, check in with Wayne Rice and his Bluegrass Special radio show on KSON 97.3 and 92.1 FM, aired every Sunday night from 10 pm to midnight. Wayne will be rebroadcasting the show, and thereafter you will be able to hear it on the KSON archives. Visit: www.kson/bluegrass.
The Sunday, November 15 annual bluegrass music concert at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Clairemont was a great success featuring the Shirthouse Band and Prairie sky in concert. There are also the usual bluegrass events held on the first, second, and fourth Tuesdays and the slow jam on the third Monday of every month. Check the San Diego Bluegrass Society website for details at www.sandiegobluegrass.org.