Choice Picks

Choice Picks

Various Artists

Internation Bluegrass Music Association

The IBMA is an organization that was formed ten years ago as a way of honoring and promoting bluegrass music. The membership is made up of performers, fans, and any of those in the bluegrass business. Based in Owensboro, KY, this organization conducts a week-long event once a year that hosts workshops, meet-and-greets, and a variety of activities that are designed to allow bluegrass fans the opportunity to meet, and even sometimes jam with, their favorite bluegrass artists. The culmination of this week-long event is an awards ceremony that honors the best bluegrass music of the past year as determined by the members of the association.

This release (sub-titled “Celebrating the 10th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards”) offers as comprehensive a view of the contemporary bluegrass scene as you can find anywhere. The songs selected for this compilation are all IBMA award-winning songs and artists who were honored by the IBMA over the ten years that the organization has been in existence. Some cuts, such as Vince Gill’s “High Lonesome Sound,” (featuring Alison Krauss and Union Station) won the IBMA “Song of the Year” award. Other cuts, such as Blue Highway’s “Lonesome Pine,” are selections from a past year’s IBMA “Album of the Year,” or “Recorded Event of the Year.” There are also cuts from a particular year’s “Artist of the Year,” or cuts that represent a musician who won an award as the best player in the various instrument categories.

This collection, while it represents a virtual Who’s Who of Contemporary Bluegrass, is also unique in that, unlike many compilations of more recent material, it was done with the co-operation of a number of different record labels. Sugar Hill, Rebel, Rounder, Pinecastle, Skaggs Family Music, and MCA Nashville all signed off on this project.

This is a mighty fine collection of recordings that should appeal to both the casual or devoted fan of bluegrass. Even if you don’t care for the style or themes of bluegrass, I would find it hard to believe that any pickers of any style could give a listen to Ricky Scaggs and Kentucky Thunder’s blistering version of Bill Monroe’s “Get Up John” (from the 1997 IBMA Album of the Year, Bluegrass Rules ), and walk away unimpressed. The first time I heard it, I found it so powerful that I could hardly exhale until the song was over.

Internation Bluegrass Music Association, 207 East 2nd St., Owensboro, KY 42303; http://www.ibma.org

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