IBMA Awards 2011


For immediate release: September 30, 2011
Press Info: Judy McDonough, JEMMedia (615) 243-5994,


On the strength of a busy touring schedule, a string of national television appearances and the release of a new album, Rare Bird Alert on Rounder Records, Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers took home the Entertainer of the Year award at the 22nd annual International Bluegrass Music Awards Thursday night, September 29 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.  Martin, who always included banjo picking in his early stand-up comedy routines, has become more serious about recording and performing bluegrass music during the past two years, with the release of two albums of original music.

Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers, a young group based in North Carolina named IBMA’s Emerging Artist of the Year in 2007, played “Me and Paul Revere” during the Awards Show—a song Martin wrote from the perspective of Revere’s horse and performed on national television at the Capitol 4th Concert in Washington, D.C. July 4. There’s always been something a little magic about fiddle and banjo music, and Martin’s deft clawhammer style underscored by Nicky Sanders’ exuberant fiddling and soaring three-part vocal harmony from the Rangers definitely did the trick.

Martin appeared at the microphone to receive the bluegrass music industry’s highest music award, leapt a few times into the air, congratulated the other Entertainer of the Year nominees and jokingly thanked them for losing. He went on to thank producers John McEuen and Tony Trischka as well as his band mates, and then he talked about how hard they’ve been working on their music, as well as the humor and entertainment aspects of their show, while trying to never denigrate the music. Martin said that while half of their audience usually comes to see him, not knowing anything about bluegrass, “They all leave loving it, and maybe they seek out other musicians. We’re really, really honored to win this award tonight.”

Steep Canyon Rangers lead singer, Woody Platt quipped, “Working with Steve, we might be the most entertained of all. Most of all we thank Steve for giving us this most amazing ride.”

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The 2011 International Bluegrass Awards:

  • Hall of Fame Inductees – Del McCoury, George Shuffler
  • Entertainer of the Year – Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers
  • Vocal Group of the Year – The Gibson Brothers
  • Instrumental Group of the Year – The Boxcars
  • Male Vocalist of the Year – Russell Moore
  • Female Vocalist of the Year – Dale Ann Bradley
  • Emerging Artist of the Year – The Boxcars
  • Album of the Year – Help My Brother by The Gibson Brothers (artists), Eric & Leigh Gibson and Mike Barber (producers), Compass (label)
  • Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year –  “Goin’ Up Dry Branch,” Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper (artist), Buddy Spicher & Jimmy Martin (songwriters), Jeff White & Michael Cleveland (producers), Rounder (label)
  • Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year – “Prayer Bells of Heaven” by J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson, & Paul Williams (artists), Ben Isaacs (producer), Mountain Home (label)
  • Song of the Year – “Trains I Missed;”  Balsam Range (artists); Walt Wilkins, Gilles Godard & Nicole Witt (songwriters)
  • Recorded Event of the Year – “Prayer Bells of Heaven” by J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson & Paul Williams (artists); Ben Isaacs (producer); Mountain Home (label)
  • Banjo Player of the Year – Kristin Scott Benson and Ron Stewart (tie)
  • Guitar Player of the Year – Bryan Sutton
  • Fiddle Player of the Year – Michael Cleveland
  • Bass Player of the Year – Marshall Wilborn
  • Mandolin Player of the Year – Adam Steffey
  • Dobro Player of the Year – Rob Ickes
  • Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients – Greg Cahill, Bill Knowlton, Lilly Pavlak, Geoff Stelling, Roland White
  • Broadcaster of the Year – Katy Daley, WAMU Bluegrass Country
  • Print Media Person of the Year – Juli Thanki,
  • Bluegrass Event of the Year – Silver Dollar City’s Bluegrass & BBQ Festival; Branson, Mo.
  • Best Graphic Design – Ricardo Alessio & Erica Harris (designer & artist), City of Refuge, Abigail Washburn (artist), Rounder (label)
  • Best Liner Notes – Colin Escott (writer), A Mother’s Prayer, Ralph Stanley (artist), Rebel (label)

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