Balsam Range Takes Top Prize at International Bluegrass Music Awards

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Dan Schram
Sarah Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O'Donovan of I'm With Her onstage at the 29th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards on Sept. 27, 2018 at the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Balsam Range, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers and veteran songwriter Jerry Salley were among the top honorees last night (Sept. 27) at the 29th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards. Hosted by Hot Rize, the show was held at the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center in Raleigh, NC.

North Carolina natives Balsam Range won entertainer of the year and the group’s lead singer, Buddy Melton, claimed his second win in the male vocalist category. Longtime favorites Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver won their eighth award for vocal group of the year. Joe Mullins &  the Radio Ramblers took home song of the year honors for “If I’d have Wrote That Song,” penned by Larry Cordle, Larry Shell and James Silver. This year’s songwriter of the year honor went to Jerry Salley.

Brooke Aldridge collected her second consecutive win in the female vocalist category. Special Consensus won album of the year for the first time for Rivers & Roads, produced by Alison Brown. The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys were named emerging artist of the year.

“Congratulations to this year’s awards recipients and all of the nominees,” Paul Schiminger, Executive Director of IBMA commented. “Being recognized by your professional peers with the highest honors in bluegrass music is quite an achievement, considering the number of incredible artists and recordings in our music today.  This is a moment for everyone in the bluegrass community to feel proud and celebrate the many accomplishments of the past year.  It is no wonder the appreciation of bluegrass is growing every day.”

Ricky Skaggs, Paul Williams and Tom T. and Dixie Hall were this year’s inductees into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

The following is a complete list of this year’s IBMA winners:

GOSPEL RECORDED PERFORMANCE OF A YEAR:
“Speakin’ to That Mountain” – Becky Buller (artist), Becky Buller/Jeff Hyde (writers), Crepe Paper Heart (album), Stephen Mougin (producer), Dark Shadow Recording (label)

INSTRUMENTAL RECORDED PERFORMANCE:
“Squirrel Hunters” – Special Consensus with John Hartford, Rachel Baiman, Christian Sedelmyer, and Alison Brown (artist), Traditional arranged by Alison Brown/Special Consensus (writers), Rivers & Roads (album), Alison Brown (producer), Compass Records (label)

EMERGING ARTIST OF THE YEAR:
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys

RECORDED EVENT OF THE YEAR:
“Swept Away” – Missy Raines with Alison Brown, Becky Buller, Sierra Hull, and Molly Tuttle (artists), single release, Alison Brown (producer), Compass Records (label)

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR:
Brooke Aldridge (her second win in this category, previously in 2017)

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR:
Buddy Melton (his second win in this category, previously in 2014)

BANJO PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Ned Luberecki (his first win in this category)

BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Tim Surrett (his second win in this category, previously in 2015)

DOBRO PLAYER OF THE YEAR: 
Justin Moses (his first win in this category)

FIDDLE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Michael Cleveland (his 11th win in this category, previously in 2015)

GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Molly Tuttle (her second win in this category, previously in 2017)

MANDOLIN PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Sierra Hull (her third win in this category, previously 2016 and 2017)

BLUEGRASS BROADCASTER OF THE YEAR:
Steve Martin (Northern Kentucky-based host of “Steve Martin’s Unreal Bluegrass”)

BLUEGRASS EVENT OF THE YEAR: 
Bluegrass on the Green– Frankfort, IL

BEST LINER NOTES FOR A RECORDED PROJECT (tie):
Craig Havighurst – The Story We Tell by Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers 
Peter Wernick – Carter Stanley’s Eyes by Peter Rowan 

BEST GRAPHIC DESIGN FOR A RECORDED PROJECT:
Lou Everhart, A Heart Never Knows by The Price Sisters

BLUEGRASS PRINT/MEDIA PERSON OF THE YEAR:
Neil Rosenberg

BLUEGRASS SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR:
Jerry Salley

SOUND ENGINEER OF THE YEAR (first year presented):
Ben Surratt

The previously announced 2018 Distinguished Achievement Award recipients  were George Gruhn, Christopher Howard-Williams, Curtis McPeake, Walter Saunders and Chris Thile