It’s Not Just Another Year for the Bluegrass Music Awards

Molly Tuttle / Billy Strings / Sierra Hull

The International Bluegrass Music Awards, or IBMA’s announced the nominees earlier this week, and it felt anything but perfunctory. In previous years you had the usual suspects up for all the major awards, and no offense to any of those outfits at all, but any level of excitement was primarily confined to the most dedicated of the bluegrass genre as opposed to spilling out into the wider population of country and roots fans, or even beyond.

It feels completely different here in 2022, and for good reason. Billy Strings is quickly becoming one of the most important live performers of this generation for sure, and in any genre, while quickly transcending this time and place in the way he is bridging traditional bluegrass with jam-based bluegrass, and with the jam band scene like we haven’t seen in years.

Meanwhile in 2022, we been blessed to witness Molly Tuttle blossoming into a generational-level bluegrass performer with her band Golden Highway, not just setting crowds on fire as they’ve toured on their own and opening for Old Crow Medicine Show, but also in the recorded space with Tuttle’s album Crooked Tree comprising one of the most heralded releases so far this year.

These two are helping to instill fresh blood into bluegrass that was already being rekindled by artists such as Sierra Hull and Michael Cleveland, making this exciting moment in bluegrass resurgence broad based. Then you have Béla Fleck returning to his bluegrass roots, and utilizing all of the aforementioned artists in his Grammy award-winning new album My Bluegrass Heart, while the oldtimers are not being pushed aside or forgotten either, they’re being celebrated such as Doyle Lawson, who has been heading into retirement in style over the last year.

Still, it’s the six nominations for Billy Strings, along with Molly Tuttle receiving five (and her fiddle player Bronwyn Keith-Hynes also nominated), including the big ones of Entertainer of the Year, Instrumental Group of the Year, and Album of the Year that is the biggest takeaway from the awards, along with the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys receiving big nominations that make you feel like the bluegrass needle is pointed firmly north.

It’s not just about the awards. They’re just an excuse to celebrate achievement in bluegrass. But you really feel like something is bubbling up here that is worth extra hubbub. They’ll be talking about this era in bluegrass fondly for years to come, just like we do about previous eras now. Meanwhile, this new crop of bluegrass performers are very much a part of the rising tide of independent artists helping to redefine what country music is after years of dominance from Music Row in Nashville. It’s exciting times in bluegrass.

The IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards on Thursday, September 29, at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, North Carolina.

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Billy Strings
The Del McCoury Band
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
Sister Sadie
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway

VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Balsam Range
Blue Highway
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Del McCoury Band
Sister Sadie

INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Billy Strings
Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
Béla Fleck’s My Bluegrass Heart
The Travelin’ McCourys
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Rick Faris
Fireside Collective
Laura Orshaw
Jaelee Roberts
Tray Wellington

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Greg Blake
Rick Faris
Del McCoury
Danny Paisley
Larry Sparks

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Brooke Aldridge
Dale Ann Bradley
Sierra Hull
Molly Tuttle
Rhonda Vincent

BANJO PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Gena Britt
Bela Fleck
Rob McCoury
Kristin Scott Benson
Scott Vestal

BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Mike Bub
Jason Moore
Missy Raines
Mark Schatz
Vickie Vaughn

FIDDLE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jason Carter
Michael Cleveland
Stuart Duncan
Bronwyn Keith-Hynes
Deanie Richardson

RESOPHONIC GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jerry Douglas
Andy Hall
Rob Ickes
Phil Leadbetter
Justin Moses

GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Billy Strings
Trey Hensley
Cody Kilby
Bryan Sutton
Molly Tuttle

MANDOLIN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Alan Bibey
Jesse Brock
Sam Bush
Sierra Hull
Ronnie McCoury

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Bluegrass Troubadour
Artist: Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass
Label: Pinecastle Records
Producer: Wes Easter

Crooked Tree
Artist: Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway
Label: Nonesuch Records
Producers: Molly Tuttle/Jerry Douglas

My Bluegrass Heart
Artist: Béla Fleck
Label: Renew Records
Producer: Béla Fleck

Never Slow Down
Artist: The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
Producers: The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys/Dave Maggard

Renewal
Artist: Billy Strings
Label: Rounder Records
Producers: Jonathan Wilson/Billy Strings

SONG OF THE YEAR

“Blink of an Eye”
Artist: Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass
Songwriter: Robert Amos
Label: Pinecastle Records
Producers: Bobby Lundy/Danny Paisley/Ryan Paisley/Wes Easter

“Deep River”
Artist: Rick Faris
Songwriter: Rick Faris/Brink Brinkman
Label: Dark Shadow Recording
Producer: Stephen Mougin

“I’ll Take the Lonesome Every Time”
Artist: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Songwriters: Glen Duncan/Jerry Salley
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producer: Doyle Lawson

“Red Daisy”
Artist: Billy Strings
Songwriters: Jarrod Walker/Christian Ward
Label: Rounder Records
Producers: Jonathan Wilson/Billy Strings

“Riding the Chief”
Artist: Chris Jones & The Night Drivers
Songwriter: Chris Jones/Thomm Jutz
Label: Mountain Home
Producer: Chris Jones

GOSPEL RECORDING OF THE YEAR (TIE)

“A Little More Faith in Jesus”
Artist: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Songwriters: Jerry Cole/Doyle Lawson
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producer: Doyle Lawson

“He’s Gettin’ Me Ready”
Artist: Darin & Brooke Aldridge with The Oak Ridge Boys
Songwriter: Jimmy Fortune
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producers: Darin Aldridge/Mark Fain

“In the End”
Artist: Dale Ann Bradley
Songwriter: Jill Gilliam
Label: Pinecastle Records
Producer: Dale Ann Bradley

“In the Sweet By and By”
Artist: Dolly Parton with Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, Bradley Walker, and Jerry Salley
Songwriters: S. Fillmore Bennett/Joseph Webster
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producer: Jerry Salley

“See You on the Other Side”
Artist: Rick Faris featuring Sam Bush
Songwriter: Rick Faris/Rick Lang
Label: Dark Shadow Recording
Producer: Stephen Mougin

“Traveling the Highway Home”
Artist: The Grascals
Songwriters: Frankie Bailes/Walter Bailes
Label: Mountain Home
Producer: The Grascals

INSTRUMENTAL RECORDING OF THE YEAR

“EMD”
Artist: Scott Vestal – Bluegrass 2022
Songwriter: David Grisman
Label: Pinecastle Records
Producer: Scott Vestal

“Happy Go Lucky”
Artist: Doyle Lawson & Alan Bibey
Songwriter: Doyle Lawson
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producer: Doyle Lawson

“Ice Bridges”
Artist: Billy Strings
Songwriter: William Apostol
Label: Rounder Records
Producer: Jonathan Wilson/Billy Strings

“Orange Blossom Breakdown”
Artist: Mike Compton
Songwriter: Bill Monroe
Label: Taterbug Records
Producer: Mark Howard

“Vertigo”
Artist: Béla Fleck featuring Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Bryan Sutton
Songwriter: Béla Fleck
Label: Renew Records
Producer: Béla Fleck

COLLABORATIVE RECORDING OF THE YEAR

“Blackbird”
Artist: Special Consensus with Amanda Smith, Dale Ann Bradley, Rob Ickes, and Alison Brown
Songwriter: J.P. Cormier
Label: Compass Records
Producer: Alison Brown

“East Bound and Down”
Artist: The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys featuring Jason Carter & Bronwyn Keith-Hynes
Songwriters: Jerry Reed/Dick Feller
Label: Sound Biscuit Productions
Producer: The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys/Dave Maggard

“Honky Tonk Nights”
Artist: Del McCoury Band featuring Vince Gill
Songwriter: Mike O’Reilly
Label: McCoury Music
Producer: Del McCoury/Ronnie McCoury

“In the Sweet By and By”
Artist: Dolly Parton with Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, Bradley Walker, and Jerry Salley
Songwriters: S. Fillmore Bennett/Joseph Webster
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producer: Jerry Salley

“One By One”
Artist: Dale Ann Bradley with Danny Paisley
Songwriter: Jim Anglin/Jack Anglin/Johnny Wright
Label: Pinecastle Records
Producer: Dale Ann Bradley

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