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Steve Martin Wins IBMA Entertainer of the Year

Friday, September 30, 2011 @ 10:09 AM
posted by robyn

September 30, 2011

Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers won Entertainer of the Year at the IBMA Awards Show last night.  In between jokes about this being “all about him,” Mr. Martin made it very clear that he was honored by the award, and was there to promote the music – helping people who wouldn’t normally have an interest in bluegrass to appreciate and understand this American tradition.

The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards are the most prestigious in the industry.  Held at the Ryman Auditorium, Sam Bush hosted the star-studded evening, filled with triple fiddles, heartfelt acceptance speeches, and thousands of fans (thanks to Sirius XM and others).  The Boxcars made quite an impression, taking home “Emerging Artist of the Year,” Banjo Player of the Year (Ron Stewart – tied with Kristin Scott Benson), Mandolin Player of the Year (Adam Steffey), and more.

The Grascals featured two young girls from local children’s hospitals in their moving hit “I Am Strong” (with Dolly Parton), but Balsam Range surprised the audience with their win for Song of the Year – “Trains I Missed.”

Del McCoury, surrounded by Del Jr. and his entire family on stage, and the innovative George Shuffler were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.  Katy Daley of WAMU won Broadcaster of the Year, and my friends Greg Cahill and Roland White were among the  Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients.

I was happy to see that although they are fairly new to the IBMA world, The Gibson Brothers won Album of the Year for “Help My Brother,” engineered by Ben Surratt, AND Vocal Group of the Year.  Very deserving in my opinion!

Overall, it was an evening rich in tradition, and full of salutes to the mandolin player who put bluegrass on the map – Bill Monroe.  All of the artists seemed to point back to Monroe in one way or another, which was fitting as this month he would have celebrated his 100th birthday.

Even the most successful stand-up comedian and one of the most affluent Hollywood stars of all time, Steve Martin, “gets” the fact that bluegrass is music of the people – passed along in festivals and BBQs and backyards across the country – and somehow makes us all equal.  “We never denigrate the music,” Martin said during his acceptance speech.  “People who come to see me – well, you know what I mean – leave with a real love for bluegrass music.”

For a full list of IBMA Award Winners, and a schedule for Fan Fest this weekend, including Alison Krauss, The Isaacs, and more, visit

IBMA is held in Nashville, Tennessee.

- Robyn


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