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October 2023
Vol. 23, No. 1

Bluegrass Corner

The End of an Era

by Dwight WordenNovember 2020

Wayne Rice

Wayne Rice, Tom Cunningham, and Rick Kirby performing as Lighthouse for the San Diego Bluegrass Society.

KSON’s Bluegrass Special radio show, hosted by Wayne Rice for the last 44 years, is no more. May it rest in peace and may all who cherish bluegrass music remember it fondly, with thanks to Wayne for a long and memorable run. The corporate parent of KSON unceremoniously notified Wayne in early September that the show was canceled—immediately—not even giving him a chance to say goodbye on the air. Nothing wrong, no bad ratings, no explanation, just a “we’re done and making a program change.” Local station management seemed as upset as Wayne and his listeners. Wayne’s was the longest running radio show in San Diego history.

In a beautiful irony, the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) had just completed honoring Wayne Rice with the IBMA’s highest award—its Lifetime Achievement Award. You can see the IBMA Award Show presentation to Wayne here: Hosted by local San Diegan, banjo superstar, and president of Compass Records, Alison Brown, the show chronicles Wayne’s long and storied career in bluegrass music and on the air. It covers not just his radio experiences, but also his band performances, Grand Ole Opry appearances, work for IBMA, and more.

Every Sunday night for 44 years Wayne was on the air, bringing his listeners the best of his carefully curated traditional and modern bluegrass music. Annually he would broadcast the IBMA Awards Show. He had regular live interviews and appearances with traveling bluegrass stars. For years he produced a monthly on-air live performance and in-studio interview with a local San Diego band scheduled to appear for SDBS as its monthly featured band. Beyond that, Wayne was a strong supporter of local bluegrass, often serving as the MC for our Summergrass Festival and other events, and for his free Christmas bluegrass show put on for SDBS.

From all of us in the bluegrass world: thanks Wayne—it was a great run!


In late October the famous Huck Finn Bluegrass Festival went forward, online, as an adaptation to the Covid world we live in. We hope some of you had a chance to enjoy the program. The event featured a stellar line up, including Chris Thile and other A listers. A special shout out to local band Mohavi Soul for its appearance. Check it all out at

IBMA ANNUAL AWARDS ARE OUT. Every year IBMA hosts the equivalent of the Bluegrass Grammys in its annual awards show. With congratulations to all, here are the winners for 2020:

Entertainer of the Year – Sister Sadie
Vocal Group of the Year – Sister Sadie
Instrumental Group of the Year – Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
New Artist Of The Year – Mile Twelve
Song of the Year – “Chicago Barn Dance” – Special Consensus (artist), Becky Buller/Missy Raines/Alison Brown (writers), Compass Records, Alison Brown (producer)
Album of the YearLive In Prague, Czech Republic – Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (artist), Billy Blue Records, Doyle Lawson and Rosta Capek (producers)
Gospel Recording of the YearGonna Rise And Shine – Alan Bibey & Grasstowne (artist), Mark Hodges (producer), Mountain Fever Records (label)
Instrumental Recording of the YearTall Fiddler – Michael Cleveland (artist), Jeff White, Michael Cleveland, and Sean Sullivan (producers), Compass Records (label)
Collaborative Recording of the YearThe Barber’s Fiddle – Becky Buller with Shawn Camp, Jason Carter, Laurie Lewis, Kati Penn, Sam Bush, Michael Cleveland, Johnny Warren, Stuart Duncan, Deanie Richardson, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Jason Barie, Fred Carpenter, Tyler Andal, Nate Lee, Dan Boner, Brian Christianson, and Laura Orshaw (artists), Stephen Mougin (producer), Dark Shadow Recording (label)
Male Vocalist of the Year – Danny Paisley
Female Vocalist of the Year – Brooke Aldridge

Instrumental Performers of the Year

Banjo – Scott Vestal
Bass – Missy Raines
Fiddle – Deanie Richardson
Resophonic Guitar – Justin Moses
Guitar – Jake Workman
Mandolin – Alan Bibey

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