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At last night’s (Sept. 30) International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, Dailey & Vincent held on to their Entertainer of the Year title for a third straight year. They were visibly moved when called up to the Ryman Auditorium stage to accept the award for a third time, explaining to the Nashville audience why they take joy in their job. “I tell the band each night that there are people in the audience who might have marriage struggles, or financial struggles . . . it’s our job to make sure they have a good time and forget about those struggles for an hour and a half,” said Jamie Dailey. They also took home trophies for Vocal Group of the Year, and Recorded Event of the Year for “Give This Message to My Heart,” with Larry Stephenson.
Former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune joined Jamie and singing partner Darrin Vincent on the Ryman stage to reprise “Elizabeth,” which the duo included on their album Dailey & Vincent Sing the Statler Brothers, which was honored with the Album of the Year award. “I grew up listening to Jimmy Fortune sing ‘Elizabeth’ with my headphones jammed into my ears. To grow up to not only meet him but sing with him is incredible,” said Jamie.
Though not nominated for an award this year, Dierks Bentley has had the top slot on the bluegrass album charts with Up on the Ridge, and kicked off the show with a performance of “Fiddlin’ Around,” featuring Sierra Hull, Stuart Duncan and Randy Kohrs. Dierks later joined 86-year-old bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs onstage as Earl finger-picked a guitar solo on the Carter Family classic “You Are My Flower.” Earl’s sons Randy and Gary, along with Stuart Duncan and Jon Randall Stewart, also joined Dierks and Earl. Though Dierks straddles commitments to both country and bluegrass music, he was treated as an appreciated guest rather than a trespasser.
Leigh and Eric of the Gibson Brothers took home Song of the Year and Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year for “Ring the Bell.” The latter honor had a special meaning for the duo. “We began performing in church when we were young, playing instruments. They put up with it for a while, but then someone said, ‘Boys, the music you are doing is real good, but in gospel music, people like to hear words,” said Leigh. “That’s when we started singing.”
This year marked the 10th anniversary of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou, the film starring George Clooney that brought a wider audience to bluegrass music. Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminiski both contributed to the movie’s soundtrack (Dan was the singing voice of George Clooney’s character), and were on hand at the IBMA Awards to perform songs from the soundtrack. Alison Krauss nearly silenced the Ryman audience with her exquisite version of “Down in the River to Pray,” while Dan bellowed out the movie’s popular “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow.”
Russell Moore of Russell Moore and IIIyrd Tyme Out was honored with the Male Vocalist award, thanking “all the ones who voted for me. Shoot, I’ll even say thanks to those of you who didn’t vote for me. It’s all good tonight.” Claire Lynch took home Female Vocalist of the Year.
The Josh Williams Band was clearly a crowd favorite, taking home the Emerging Artist of the Year award, while Josh Williams was honored with his third Guitar Player of the Year trophy.
In bluegrass, instrumentalist awards are every bit as important as trophies like Male Vocalist or Group of the Year. The Grascals’ Kristin Scott Benson took home Banjo Player of the Year, while Michael Cleveland was honored as Fiddle Player of the Year, Rob Ickes of Blue Highway took home Dobro Player of the Year and Adam Steffey received a nod for Mandolin Player of the Year.