In recent weeks I have seen a lot of great bluegrass performers honored in their craft and sharing their talents with enthusiastic audiences.
This adventure in musical joy began with the Front Porch Fellowship Bluegrass Gospel Music Awards held at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Ky.
The Watkins Family kicked off the program in front of thousands of fans at the Freedom Expo Center. Also performing were the Rochesters, the Primitive Quartet, Cody Shuler and Pine Mountain Railroad and songwriter Jerry Salley.
The Rochesters sweeped with four out of six awards: Favorite Female Vocalist/Becky Rochester Matthews; Favorite Male Vocalist/Ben Rochester; Favorite Instrumentalist/Ben Rochester. and their “I’m A Soldier” was Favorite Song. The Primitive Quartet brought home Favorite Group, and New Artist of the Year is Triple L Band.
All six members of The Primitive Quartet were chosen to receive the Marvin Norcross-Maurice Templeton Award at the Singing News Fan Awards held at Dollywood at Pigeon Forge. The honor is uniquely given to those who distinguish themselves not only on the stage and studio but in their Christian walk both at home and on the road. A more appropriate choice could not have been made… Thanks to the Singing News for a perfect selection.
As I moved on to the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards and its Distinguished Achievement Luncheon in Nashville, I was pleased to see the list of honorees that received the Distinguished Achievement Award. This is the closest award just short of Hall of Fame induction. Among this year’s honorees was the amazingly talented fiddler Tex Logan. Peter Rowan presented the award to a fiddler whose performances have been described as a “Hurricane.” His unique talents also lended itself to songwriting giving bluegrass its classic Christmas offering “Christmas Time’s A Comin’.” Another one of the honorees was North Carolina radio personality Sherry Boyd who shared bluegrass to thousands in her 30-year career both on radio and as an emcee. The talents of performers Lynn Morris of the Lynn Morris Band and Pete Wernick of Hot Rize were also recognized. Bear Family Records founder Richard Weize was among the honorees. All of these were terrific choices.
The Whites and Jerry Douglas did a magnificent job guiding fans through the evening festivities at the Ryman Auditorium. The high point for me was when Earl Scruggs and his boys Gary and Randy came out to perform “You are My Flower” in honor of his late wife Louise who was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame for guiding the meteoric career of Flatt and Scruggs and Earl Scruggs Revue.
Even seated due to his age, Earl shared the flawless guitar licks that he made immortal so many years ago.
The unique talents of the late dancing, fiddling, banjo playing steamboat captain John Hartford also led him to his posthumous induction. He also authored “Gentle on my Mind.” A wonderful finale shared a host of artists performing this classic song.
Other award winners included: Entertainer Of The Year – Dailey & Vincent; Vocal Group Of The Year – Dailey & Vincent; Instrumental Group Of The Year – Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper; Male Vocalist Of The Year – Russell Moore; Female Vocalist Of The Year – Claire Lynch;Song Of The Year -“Ring The Bell,” The Gibson Brothers (Artists), Chet O’Keefe (Songwriter); Album Of The Year – Dailey & Vincent Sing The Statler Brothers; Dailey & Vincent (Artists and Producers); Cracker Barrel/Rounder; Recorded Event Of The Year – “Give This Message To Your Heart”, Larry Stephenson featuring Dailey & Vincent (Artists), Ben Surratt & Larry Stephenson (Producers), Whysper Dream; Instrumental Recorded Performance Of The Year – “Durang’s Hornpipe” By Adam Steffey (Artist), Barry Bales & Gary Paczosa (Producers); Gospel Recorded Performance Of The Year – “Ring The Bell”, The Gibson Brothers (Artists & Producers), Chet O’Keefe (Songwriter), Compass Records; Emerging Artist Of The Year – Josh Williams Band; Instrumental Performers Of The Year: Banjo – Kristin Scott Benson;Bass – Marshall Wilborn; Fiddle – Michael Cleveland; Dobro – Rob Ickes; Guitar – Josh Williams; Mandolin – Adam Steffey; Bluegrass Broadcaster Of The Year – Kyle Cantrell; Sirius Xm Satellite Radio; Print Media Person Of The Year – Eddie Dean & Dr. Ralph Stanley, authors of Man Of Constant Sorrow: My Life And Times (Gotham Books); Best Liner Notes For A Recorded Project – Dr. Ted Olson (Writer), Appalachia Music From Home, Various Artists, Lonesome Records (Label); Best Graphic Design For A Recorded Project – Julie Craig, Cracker Barrel (Designer); Dailey & Vincent; Dailey & Vincent Sing The Statler Brothers; Cracker Barrel/Rounder (Label); and Bluegrass Event Of The Year Award – 14th Annual Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival; East Hartford, Ct.
The show also featured a performance honoring the tenth anniversary of the soundtrack of “O Brother Where Art Thou” featuring Alison Krauss leading out “Down to the River to Pray,” followed by “Keep on the Sunny Side” by The Whites. When Dan Tyminski and the rest of Union Station kicked into “Man of Constant Sorrow.”
What a great series of events and wonderful bluegrass memories!!!!!!