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Local festival honored at IBMA Bluegrass Week in Nashville

Sep. 29, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

NASHVILLE -- Once a year, the bluegrass music world migrates to Nashville for the annual International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Week and Awards Show.

Bringing together the best professional musicians in the genre as well as fans and casual musicians of all levels, the World of Bluegrass convention is a go-to destination for lovers of one of America's truly unique musical genres.

At this week's 2012 IBMA Week, West Virginia and the Tri-State figured prominently. In a surprise, the annual Appalachian Uprising music festival, held every June in Scottown, Ohio, won the IBMA Momentum Award on Wednesday evening in the Event/Festival category. This was the first year that the IBMA has given out Momentum Awards. The other winners were Alex Hargreaves, Samson Grisman and Christian Ward (instrumentalists), Monroeville (band), Emily Bankester (Vocalist of the Year), Emilee Warner (Industry Achievement) and veteran and multi-IBMA Award winner Mike Bub won for the mentor category.

When the Appalachian Uprising festival founder and owner Steve Cielec heard the news about the IBMA Momentum Award, it came as a complete surprise.

"No, I had no idea at all," said Cielec, when asked if he knew that the festival was nominated. "We're excited. It's an honor. Jon Weisberger (IBMA Board member) called and said, 'This is Jon with the IBMA and I want you to know that you've won a Momentum Award.' I was so shocked that I had to sit down. He said that it was the inaugural Momentum Award, which was very cool. It's always nice to be the first. It honors me to get this award because it is given to you by your peers. Somebody had to nominate us. We appreciate everybody that helps us. To me, the award reiterates that we're getting known out there, too. That's what makes me feel good."

In more breaking news from the IBMA Week, Cielec confirmed that the popular award-winning group the Carolina Chocolate Drops have been signed for the 2013 Appalachian Uprising.

On one special night during IBMA Week, the late Mountain State singer and songwriter Hazel Dickens was honored with an all-star tribute concert. Dickens is in both the IBMA Hall of Fame and the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. Coming together to sing and perform Dickens' original songs were Alison Krauss, Laurie Lewis, Claire Lynch, James King and more. Also among the performers was Cross Lanes native and country music star Kathy Mattea who sang the classic Dickens' song "West Virginia, My Home," which Mattea recently recorded on her acclaimed new album called "Calling Me Home." A few special guests showed up for the encore including Peter Rowan and Blue Highway's Tim Stafford.

Thursday evening the annual IBMA Awards took place in the historic Ryman Auditorium. This year's award show was especially poignant and emotional as the bluegrass world has lost many legendary artists over the last 12 months. Among those who have passed are IBMA Hall of Famers Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Doug Dillard and Everett Lilly. Lilly is also in the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.The big winners during the show were Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice, Dale Ann Bradley, Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, the Boxcars and The Gibson Brothers, who won the coveted Entertainer of the Year Award.

The Gibson Brothers also won the Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year Award with the song "Singing As We Rise." Once again, the West Virginia music scene figured prominently in the process. The song was written by Joe Newberry, a Missouri native, who wrote the song in a half an hour while inspired in England. Newberry then played the song at the Augusta Heritage Workshop Week held yearly in Elkins, W.Va., in a jam with the Gibson Brothers. The rest, as they say, is history.

In yet another IBMA Week moment with a West Virginia connection, Darrell "Pee Wee" Lambert was given an IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award. Lambert, who grew up in Mingo County, was a big part of the sound of the early Stanley Brothers recordings in the 1940s. While most bluegrass and mountain music was sung in a solo, duo or quartet configuration, Ralph and Carter Stanley along with Lambert helped to create a soulful high lonesome trio blend that is still considered legendary. He would go on to form the Pine Ridge Boys and other bands before dying of heart attack at age 40 in 1965. His widow Hazel was there to receive the award as a picture was shown on the big screen of Lambert playing mandolin and singing in front of a WSAZ microphone.

Next year, the IBMA World of Bluegrass Week moves from Nashville to Raleigh, N.C. It will be the first of three years in Raleigh.

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