Gibson Honors Pickers in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — The Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corporation passed out awards Tuesday to distinguished users of the instruments it makes.

Gillian Welch and Brad Paisley were winners in country categories, while bluegrass banjo great Earl Scruggs and Elvis Presley’s guitarist, Scotty Moore, were honored with lifetime achievement awards.

The midday event took place at The Knitting Factory, a Hollywood music club. Gibson CEO Henry E. Juszkiewicz attended and made the presentations to Scruggs and Moore.

“I love these guys and I love these guitars,” said Welch, who will appear Wednesday night on the 44th Grammy Awards. “I think it’s a hallmark of intelligence and taste to give an award to a rhythm player.”

Paisley remarked that both he and Welch were sporting shirts with western-style piping and snap buttons. “Shows where we come from, I guess,” he observed.

“My grandfather used to tell me the best guitar made was a Gibson,” Paisley continued, “and that I’d made it when I finally got one. It’s nice to know that he was right.”

Gibson instruments have played an important role in creating certain American musical forms such as bluegrass, Paisley pointed out. “You think of folks like Earl, who’s the pioneer of his instrument, and you think of the Gibson banjo that he plays. You think about the mandolin that Bill Monroe used to create an entire style of music, and just acoustic guitars and electric guitars and Les Paul and people like that. Music would not be the same without this company, and there aren’t a lot of companies that can say that.”

Several winners -– India.Arie, Dave Matthews and members of U2 –- were not on hand to receive their awards. Host Mark DeCarlo told the gathering that the Grammy-nominated artists were tied up in rehearsals.

Keb’ Mo’, winner in the blues category, said he decided to attend the event when he heard Scruggs would be on hand. The “best part of being here, for me, is being in a room with Mr. Earl Scruggs.”

Without a script, Juszkiewicz’s presentations to Scruggs and Moore lacked focus, but both men were characteristically generous in their acceptance speeches.

“This is a real thrill to me,” Scruggs said. “It’s a pleasure to be here with you folks. … Winning this is something that’s just impossible to explain, but thank you very much.”

Moore said that after CMI, Chicago Musical Instrument Corp., gave up ownership of Gibson, he worried about the Gibson guitar’s future.

“Henry has done a wonderful, wonderful job with the company,” he said, “and it looks like he’s going to take over the rest of the world on the rest of the instruments.”

After all the glass trophies were handed out, Moore, Mo’, Juszkiewicz and several other musicians jammed briefly on “Heartbreak Hotel” and “I’ve Got My Mojo Working.”

The 2002 Orville H. Gibson Awards:

Best guitar band: U2
Best rock guitarist: The Edge (U2)
Best acoustic guitarist (male): Dave Matthews
Best acoustic guitarist (female): India.Arie
Best country guitarist (male): Brad Paisley
Best country guitarist (female): Gillian Welch
Best blues guitarist: Keb’ Mo’
Best jazz guitarist: Acoustic Alchemy (Greg Carmichael / Miles Gilderdale)
Best bassist: Adam Clayton (U2)
Orville H. Gibson lifetime achievement winner: Earl Scruggs
Orville H. Gibson lifetime achievement winner: Scotty Moore