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New Blood At IBMA Noms Includes Four For Kansan Rick Faris

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Molly Harmon
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Rick Faris

Young stars Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle find themselves well represented in this year’s nominations for the 2022 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, with six nods each, including Entertainer of the Year. But in an awards pool where new artists emerge slowly, the most refreshing and surprising name mentioned on repeat at Tuesday’s announcements is that of Topeka, KS-based Rick Faris.

Faris, a songwriter, singer, guitarist and guitar-builder, was surprised by four nominations, including Male Vocalist of the Year alongside his singing heroes Del McCoury, Larry Sparks and Danny Paisley. In an Instagram message, Faris, a former member of Special Consensus and now an artist on Nashville’s Dark Shadow Recording, said, “I am just stunned and very excited to be nominated for four different categories this year.” His other nods were for Song of the Year for “Deep River” from his 2021 album The Next Mountain, Gospel Recording for “See You On The Other Side,” and New Artist of the Year.

The New Artist category represents an exciting generation of performers who have already made deep impressions on the bluegrass industry: Asheville, NC progressive band Fireside Collective, MTSU student and Sister Sadie singer Jaelee Roberts, singer and fiddler Laura Orshaw who also tours and records as part of the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, and North Carolina banjo player Tray Wellington, who recently released his jazz-influenced debut LP Black Banjo.

Banjo innovator Béla Fleck marked a historic return to the ranks of IBMA multi-nominees on the heels of his epic double album My Bluegrass Heart and the extensive tour that's supported it. Besides an Album of the Year nomination, he was tapped for best Instrumental Recording and Instrumental Group.

Strings and Tuttle led all nominees, sharing notice for Album of the Year, Guitar Player of the Year and Instrumental Group. Alongside them in the Entertainer category are the young and fiery Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, 2020 winners Sister Sadie, and the legendary Del McCoury Band.

At the other end of the age and experience spectrum came the news of three important inductees to the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Peter Rowan may have been the most inevitable, with a sweeping career that took him from the most foundational bluegrass in Bill Monroe’s band to the outer edges of “spacegrass” with progressive iconoclasts like fiddlers Vassar Clements and Richard Greene, guitarist Tony Rice, mandolinist David Grisman and Grateful Dead icon Jerry Garcia. Their album Old and In The Way is among the most influential albums for new waves of fans in bluegrass history. WMOT spoke with Rowan recently.

Norman Blake will also enter the Hall for his many decades of deeply traditional guitar playing, singing and songwriting. A down home folk singer from North Georgia, he also was a hot sideman in the 1970s for artists like Johnny Cash and on projects like Will The Circle Be Unbroken. He became revered as a flatpicking guitar maestro who made a couple of classic albums with Tony Rice and many with his cello-playing wife Nancy. Also inducted will be the late bluegrass DJ, show promoter and fiddle player Paul “Moon” Mullins who brought the music over the airwaves to millions in southeastern Ohio in the 1960s and 70s. His son Joe Mullins is himself a renowned broadcaster and a former IBMA Entertainer of the Year.

The 33rd IBMA Awards and Hall of Fame inductions will be presented on Thursday, Sept. 29 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The full list of nominees follows:

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

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

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

GOSPEL RECORDING OF THE YEAR

“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

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

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's music news producer and host of The String, a show featuring conversations on culture, media and American music. New episodes of The String air on WMOT 89.5 in Middle Tennessee on Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. Twitter and Instagram: @chavighurst.