2009 IBMA Awards Night Review

by | 4 Oct, 2009 | 2 comments

IBMA-LogoDailey & Vincent were named IBMA’s Entertainer of the Year for the second consecutive year at the 20th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards, held at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, on 1st October, 2009. The entire band received the Vocal Group of the Year award as well as Gospel Recorded Performance for the song On the Other Side, written by Jimmy Fortune, Kevin Denney and Tom Botkin.

Michael Cleveland continued his winning streak with his seventh Fiddle Player of the Year trophy in nine years. Cleveland’s band, Flamekeeper, was named Instrumental Group of the Year for the third consecutive year, and they took home the Instrumental Recorded Performance award for a Bill Monroe classic, Jerusalem Ridge. Flamekeeper bass player Marshall Wilborn and mandolinist Jesse Brock both received top honors on their respective instruments.

Dan Tyminski whispered his acceptance speech for Male Vocalist of the Year, as he battled a severe case of laryngitis. Tyminski’s current release, Wheels, on Rounder Records, was named Album of the Year.

It was an evening to remember, complete with emotional highs, breath-taking instrumentals, hallelujah moment vocals, surprise winners and returning favorites, kicked off by a rousing version of Them Blues, performed by the Lonesome River Band with Brandon Rickman on soulful lead vocals and rock star – Sammy Shelor on the banjo.

It was also a night for duets. In addition to Dailey & Vincent’s win and their show-stopping a cappella performance of Don’t You Wanna Go to Heaven, the Gibson Brothers, Leigh and Eric, electrified the packed house at the Ryman with their rendition of Ring the Bell, their sharp-edged, soulful voices rising in twin harmony. Danny Paisley and Junior Sisk, both nominated in the Song of the Year and Emerging Artist categories, combined their bands for a musical presentation that included abbreviated versions of Don’t Throw Mama’s Flowers Away and Leaving Baker County, ending with a duet version of I’m Going Honky Tonking that brought the house down.

After performing the Tom Petty song I Won’t Back Down earlier in the evening, Dale Ann Bradley returned to the podium to accept her third consecutive award for Female Vocalist of the Year. Josh Williams accepted his second Guitar trophy, thanking the legendary Tony Rice for making him ‘want to learn to play the guitar in the first place. A band leader nominated in the Emerging Artist category this year, Williams also thanked his former bosses, Greg Cahill & the Special Consensus, and Rhonda Vincent & the Rage.

Kristin Scott Benson took home the Banjo Player of the Year trophy for the second time. When an off-stage chorus from her bandmates, The Grascals, was heard (We love you, Kristin) she quipped: Well, you’d better love me because you are never gonna get rid of me, laughing.

Rob Ickes, who is celebrating 15 years as a co-founder of Blue Highway, took home his 11th trophy for Dobro Player of the Year.

The crowd was thrilled to see The SteelDrivers recognized as Emerging Artists of the Year, after two years of rising popularity, award nominations and national television appearances. While grateful for nominations from CMA, the Americana Music Association and the Grammys in 2008-09, the SteelDrivers jokingly pointed out that they hadn’t won anything until now and thanked the membership of IBMA profusely for turning their ‘losing streak’ around.

Previous show producers were recognized from the past 20 years of the IBMA Awards, and hosts Kathy Mattea and Hot Rize reminisced about memorable moments including the time in 1995 when Ronnie McCoury won the Mandolin Player of the Year award, and then walked out into the crowd and presented it to the father of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe who kept it.  There was the time Sonny Osborne opened the show with a solo version of America the Beautiful, less than a month after 9-11. In 1995 Jimmy Martin made a record-breaking, 23-minute acceptance speech upon entering the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. In 1993, The Bluegrass All Stars took to the stage with Pete – Dr. Banjo – Wernick of Hot Rize, amazing the audience with their skills. Several of those individuals, now approaching 30, have gone on to become the reigning generation of trend-setters and award winners, including Michael Cleveland, Josh Williams, Chris Thile, Cody Kilby and Ryan Holladay. The new group of All Stars introduced in 2003 included Sierra Hull and Sarah Jarosz, who have current albums on Rounder and Sugar Hill, respectively.

Tony Trischka welcomed well-known actor/producer/comedian Steve Martin to the world of bluegrass (by implying the award show wasn’t a paying gig) before the two banjo players presented the Vocal Group award to Dailey & Vincent. Martin, who had received two industry awards earlier in the day for Best Liner Notes and Graphic Design for his album, The Crow, took the stage later to perform an original tune, Saga of the Wild West backed by The Steep Canyon Rangers, IBMA Emerging Artists in 2006.

Pete Wernick introduced Martin as ‘a man who needs an introduction’ to the bluegrass community. With a name like ‘Martin,’ Pete observed, he could have been related to Jimmy Martin or Benny Martin but he wasn’t. He took the typical bluegrass career path of learning magic tricks, learning to make balloon animals and working at Disneyland, Wernick said, adding that Martin now refers to his movie producing and acting career as ‘the lost years,’ in an effort to ‘turn his life to oblivion, poverty and banjo rolls.’

Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, Hot Rize’s alter ego band in flashy, fringed western attire, appeared on stage several times in an attempt to perform which never materialized, much to their chagrin. At one point they were joined by Gladiola Bouquet Mercantile, Wendell Mercantile’s third cousin twice removed (who came back both times), who bore a slight resemblance to Kathy Mattea.

Additional performances included a song from the G-2 Bluegrass band from the bluegrass hills of Sweden, Sierra Hull & Highway 111, The Grascals and The Del McCoury Band. More than a dozen female musicians who participated in the Daughters of Bluegrass project on Tom T. & Dixie Hall’s Blue Circle Records took the stage to accept the Recorded Event of the Year award for their song, Proud to Be a Daughter of Bluegrass.

Legendary band leader Doyle Lawson inducted the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. Bobby Osborne, already a member of the Hall of Fame with his brother, Sonny, in The Osborne Brothers, became the first person in the history of the Hall of Fame to be inducted twice. I never thought when I left home in 1949 with an old guitar my dad paid $30 dollars for, with no case, that I’d ever amount to a hill of beans, Osborne said. I never dreamed of nothing like this when I joined the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers. It led to many, many things in bluegrass music. Since that day I always had my sights set way down the road, and I still ain’t finished with it yet.

Paul Williams, who went on to fame after the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers as a member of Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys and now leads his own group, observed to Bobby: I wouldn’t have had no idea we’d draw this good on a Thursday night. I tell you; this is something I never would have dreamed of.

Spontaneous applause broke out when Melvin Goins, of the pioneer bluegrass group The Goins Brothers, took the microphone. This is a dream that I never thought would come true, he stated simply. I wish my brother Ray was with us. I lost him two years ago. I always loved the sound of a banjo. Then he proceeded to tell the story of how he purchased his first instrument, a $6 banjo, for the $3 he had in his pocket plus four hens and a rooster from his family farm.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s John McEuen, who was inspired as a teenager to play the banjo after hearing The Dillards perform, inducted the influential foursome from Salem, Missouri, into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. Without the Dillards, McEuen said he would not have picked up the banjo. Without him, the Dirt Band wouldn’t have included bluegrass. Without the Dirt Band bluegrass, there would have been no Will the Circle Be Unbroken albums which introduced the bluegrass genre to a generation of fans in the early ’70s.

I’m at a loss for words, Rodney Dillard said. Bluegrass has allowed me to make friends all over the world. It’s given me a wonderful family, and by the grace of God we got this while we’re still alive, he added, smiling. We all thought that in order for this to happen, one of us would have to die—but no one wanted to volunteer.

I’m flabbergasted to get an award like this in my lifetime, Douglas Dillard said, going on to thank his parents for giving him and Rodney the gift of music, along with former record and movie producers and their publisher, Robin Lynn Greene.

Thank you very much, Mitch Jayne said. You know, we’ve been waiting 50 years for someone to think we did something. It’s incredibly appreciated by the four of us guys. Bluegrass was so much fun. We had the time of our lives. Mine’s about over and I’ve almost made it through. I want to read you something I got from Andy Griffith yesterday, who doesn’t travel much at 83. Actually, I didn’t want to come here either, Jayne joked. I just came to meet Melvin Goins.

Griffith’s note read: You guys deserve this award. I’m glad I could use you guys in a positive way in the show. I couldn’t be with you tonight, but my thoughts and my heart and my love are with you.

After the awards show hosts Kathy Mattea and Hot Rize collaborated on the song Untold Stories, an all-star instrumental group performed the song, Rachel. Multiple award winners Stuart Duncan, Rob Ickes, Ronnie McCoury, Jim Mills, Missy Raines and Bryan Sutton were featured.

After accepting the Entertainer of the Year Award from Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White, Darrin Vincent of Dailey & Vincent said, Bluegrass fans are the best fans in the whole wide world. We’ll do our best again this year to take it to the masses.

Power trio Paul Williams, Melvin Goins and Bobby Osborne nailed the harmony on Pain in My Heart, a Lonesome Pine Fiddlers standard, followed by a grand finale with The Dillards song, The Old Home Place. Rodney sang lead, and the entire audience raised the rafters of the old Ryman church building in three-part harmony.

The awards show was broadcast live on Sirius XM Satellite Radio on Bluegrass Junction (Sirius channel 65, XM channel 14) and will be syndicated to more than 300 U.S. markets and 14 foreign networks, thanks to the sponsorship of Martha White, GHS Strings, Sugar Hill Records, Deering Banjos, Bluegrass Music Profiles and the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Program directors and station managers may sign up to be affiliates online at www.ibma.org.

The International Bluegrass Music Awards are voted on by the professional membership of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), which serves as the trade association for the bluegrass music industry. The IBMA Awards Show is the centerpiece of the World of Bluegrass week, including the industry’s Business Conference and Bluegrass Fan Fest, September 28 to October 4 in Nashville.


  1. Editor

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  2. Randy Nichols

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