Looking Back – Blue Grass and Red Carpet

Bluegrass Red Carpet 2014

Photo: LTTL

Listening Through The Lens

Listening Through The Rear-View Mirror

# 4 IBMA Awards and more 2014


Yes folks, the world is in a place in 2020 that no-one would have believed.

Other than the pages of a fictional book where a-pandemic-attacks-the-world-forcing-us-to-be-in-lockdown-shutting-our-borders-and-generally-feeling-jittery, how did this predicament happen so quickly and decisively??

It is hard to think of an industry which is more adversely affected and can least afford it than the live music biz.


So we are going to delve into the Listening Through The Lens deep archives and re-live some better moments.

IBMA World of Bluegrass

It’s the biggest bluegrass bash.

The World of Bluegrass is run by he International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and is held in Raleigh North Carolina each year and includes:

  • the four-day IBMA Business Conference
  • the International Bluegrass Music Awards Show
  • Bluegrass Ramble evening showcases on seven stages five nights
  • the two-day Wide Open Bluegrass Festival, and
  • the free to the public weekend Wide Open Bluegrass Street Fest

World of Bluegrass 2020 is proceeding but in virtual form given public health issues. Listening Through The Lens has covered two events – 2013 and 2014. Here’s our retrospective take on the Awards in 2014 and other activities that day.

Bluegrass Red Carpet 2014

By Rob Dickens

Thursday 2 October 2014. Yesterday was my gentle introduction to this year’s IBMA’s World of Bluegrass. Today things will be cranking up.


I headed down to The Raleigh Convention Centre for Songwriter Showcase, featuring in the Round:

Brandi Belle Clarke, Kristina Kidd, Lexi Adams: “Mockingbird”
Aaron Biebelhauser and Michael Cleveland: “I’ll Be On My Way”
Louisa Branscomb: “Riding Double on My Old John Deere”
Dawn Kenney, Mitch Matthews, David Morris: “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Train”
David Morris, Chris Dockins: “Weeds Where the Flowers of Love Once Grew”
Emma McDowell Best: “Round and Round”
John C. Miller: “Cloud of Dust”
Teresa Neal, Louisa Branscomb, CC Crouch: “Money Can’t Buy Grace”
Savannah Strong-Finch, Tim Finch: “Your Love is Like Moonshine”
Eric Marshall: “A Soldier’s Return”

I enjoy the concept of The Round.  Each performer introduces and plays just the one song before handing over the stage.   It seems to me to be a format that provides maximum exposure to the song and the songwriting craft.  The songs and craft stand out and are memorable, with the audience being very attentive during the whole session (bluegrass audiences don’t talk much during performances – I like that).


Tonight was the IBMA’s 25th annual Bluegrass Music Awards night, so I needed to go back to my motel to change.  I attended part of the World of Bluegrass last year, but didn’t go to the Awards show.  This time around, I was keen to experience the event and was fortunate that I was invited to take some photographs at the Red Carpet beforehand (thanks Judy McDonough from JemMedia).

I arrived at the Red Carpet just in front of the venue for tonight, the Duke Energy Centre for the Performing Arts, at around 4.45pm, in plenty of time for the carpet which would be running from 5.30 to 6.30.  While waiting, I met a number of photographers and journalists who were there to cover the event.  There were TV crews as well.  The Award nominees, other performers and partners started arriving on time and were all interviewed and photographed in pretty much a routine that got established as we went along.  It was a lot of fun.

Here are some of my shots.

Del McCoury and Ronnie McCoury – Photo: LTTL
Current and former members of Seldom Scene and partners – Photo: LTTL
Chatham County Line – Photo: LTTL
Trinity River Band – Photo: LTTL
The Kruger Brothers – Photo: LTTL
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen – Photo: LTTL
Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush – Photo: LTTL

It had been pretty hot in the dappled sunlight for over 90 minutes and I was pretty parched.  The nominees and artists moved into a special reception area and somehow I found myself in there as well.


A glass of pinot grigio was delightful.  It was a thrill to be in there and see so many faces I recognised before my trip and a lot of great performers I would be seeing over over the next two days.  I would have to say, however, that the food laid on for the nominees etc was a little disappointing – three slices of meat (with a choice of three dressings) and a frozen bread bun.  I hope they ate something before they came here!

By now, it was 7.15 and time to cross back to the public section and take my seat for the show.

The Duke Energy Centre For The Performing Arts

Hosts for the evening were Jerry Douglas and Lee Anne Womack and the Centre was just about full.  The show was being broadcast on radio, so there were a few ad breaks.  The highlight throughout for me was the live performances, and there were plenty of them:


Claire Lynch

Gibson Brothers

Lee Anne Womack

Dailey & Vincent

Della Mae

The Spinney Brothers

Jerry Douglas

The Seldom Scene

Blue Highway

Del McCoury Band

Balsam Range

Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen

I was particularly interested in the life time achievement award given to The (original) Seldom Scene.  The band was formed in 1971 and comprised Mike Auldridge (dobro), John Duffey (mandolin), Ben Eldridge (banjo), Tom Gray (bass) and John Starling (guitar).  The intent of the band was to play locally in Washington DC, but this did not last long as The Seldom Scene became a major force nationally in the bluegrass music world.  They changed the face of bluegrass with their harmonies, impeccable musicianship and their fusion of bluegrass with country, folk, gospel and rock.

The whole show was too long for me, at a little over three hours and I was pretty pleased to get moving again after being in my seat for that long.  A great experience though, one that I won’t forget in a hurry and I learned a lot about the bluegrass scene as a result of it. 

Here are all the winners:

  • VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR – Balsam Range
  • INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR – Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
  • SONG OF THE YEAR – “Dear Sister,” Claire Lynch, written by Claire Lynch and Louisa Branscomb
  • ALBUM OF THE YEAR – Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe, Noam Pikelny, produced by Gabe Witcher, Compass Records
  • GOSPEL RECORDED PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR – Won’t It Be Wonderful There,” Dailey & Vincent, from Brothers Of The Highway, written by Mildred Styles Johnson, produced by Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent, Rounder Records
  • INSTRUMENTAL RECORDED PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR – “Thank God I’m A Country Boy,” Special Consensus with Buddy Spicher, Michael Cleveland and Alison Brown, from Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver, written by John Martin Sommers, Compass Records
  • RECORDED EVENT OF THE YEAR – “Wild Montana Skies,” Special Consensus with Claire Lynch and Rob Ickes, produced by Alison Brown, Compass Records


  • BANJO – Noam Pikelny
  • BASS – Barry Bales
  • FIDDLE – Jason Carter
  • DOBRO – Phil Leadbetter
  • GUITAR – Bryan Sutton
  • MANDOLIN – Adam Steffey


I was then striding a few blocks to Kings on Market Street where Mustered Courage were due on at 11pm.  This impeccable Australian outfit has been on an extensive (and exhausting) tour of the U.S. – 42 States since the end of July.  Their schedule  is just about over and I was very keen to see them over here. 

It was a smallish crowd, but the boys put on a great show “Cruel Alibis”, “Standing By Your Side” and “Southern Style” from the excellent album Powerlines were adroitly mixed with some new songs that sounded really good to me (“Tell Me What I Need” may have been the name of one?) and a couple of crazy, but highly effective “grassed” covers of a disco hit and Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls”.

Mustered Courage

A great show and the boys were off immediately to yet another show, with four engagements tomorrow – three sets and a radio interview.

What an amazing day.



Bluegrass Red Carpet 2014

Bluegrass Red Carpet 2014

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Author: Rob Dickens

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