The sweet-singing duo Dailey & Vincent went from emerging artist of the year to entertainer of the year in just two and a-half hours Thursday night (Oct. 2), winning seven awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. They were nominated for a total of 10 awards.
“They didn’t leave none for the rest of us,” moaned the affable Del McCoury, who hosted the sold-out show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
Still in their first year as a recording act, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent also won for top album (Dailey & Vincent), top vocal group and gospel recorded performance (“By the Mark”). Dailey copped the male vocalist prize, and Vincent shared in the recorded event of the year trophy for (Everett Lilly & Everybody and Their Brother).
On the down side, Vincent failed to win in the best bass player category (losing out to Barry Bales, a member of Alison Krauss & Union Station), and both of the duo’s nominees for song of the year succumbed to “Through the Window of a Train,” written by Tim Stafford and Steve Gulley and recorded by Blue Highway.
For the second year in a row, Dale Ann Bradley was proclaimed top female vocalist, and Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper again scored the instrumental group of the year prize.
The Grascals, the Del McCoury Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder all were shut out. Rhonda Vincent, Darrin’s sister and normally a trophy magnet, was cited only for her part in the winning recorded event of the year album.
The evening glittered with luminous performances, none more striking than Dailey & Vincent’s crystalline lament, “By the Mark.” Singing without their band, Dailey on guitar and Vincent on mandolin, they transfixed the audience with escalating vocal harmonies that seemed to rise to the very pinnacle of grief. Theirs was the only performance to earn a standing ovation.
The Steep Canyon Rangers opened the program with their zesty “Lovin’ Pretty Women.” Suiting action to the words, three women came out on the stage and clog danced — but rather too tentatively to enliven the song.
McCoury had the crowd applauding mid-song with his sardonic — and painfully relevant — “Moneyland,” particularly when he bore down on the incantation, “Money, money, money, more, more, more.” Besides singing true-blue music, McCoury also has the sharpest-dressed band in bluegrass.
The Grascals, who held the entertainer of the year title for the past two years, sounded suitably ornery with their pulsating cover of Waylon Jennings‘ “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line.” Blue Highway’s rendition of “Through the Window of a Train” was as vivid and engaging as a movie.
The audience added much to the evening simply by being properly attentive to the music. It was clearly more songstruck than starstruck.
The late author and cultural historian Charles Wolfe and musician, song collector and festival organizer Bill Clifton were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.
Disc jockey Eddie Stubbs recited the major achievements of both men. In accepting his award, Clifton set off a round of cheering when he asserted, “Times have changed. We’re no longer the ugly stepchild of country music.”
Stubbs noted that Wolfe, a professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University, began interviewing old and largely forgotten performers from the Grand Ole Opry when he moved from his native Missouri to Tennessee in the early ’70s.
Building on his interest in the origins of country and bluegrass music, he went on to author a wealth of books, magazine articles and liner notes. One of his most highly regarded books was A Good Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry, which covered the legendary radio show’s first 15 years.
Clifton was a collector, too, but more of songs than stories. Born on a farm in Maryland, he became fascinated with the traditional music of people who had left the rural areas to find work in Baltimore. In following his curiosity, he said, “I got to see, hear and know some of the real icons of country music,” one of whom was A. P. Carter, patriarch of the fabled Carter Family.
Clifton became a successful recording artist, and, in the early 1960s, moved to England, where he organized folk music clubs and became instrumental in spreading America’s rural music throughout Europe. “Everywhere I go,” he told the audience, “I can find a friend because there are bluegrass and old-time music fans all over the world.”
McCoury was a splendid host. He displayed a keen sense of humor, impeccable timing and the quiet authority of one who not only knows bluegrass but who’s helped shape it for the past 50 years.
“It’s a pretty good year to be named Vincent,” said Vince Gillwhen he came on stage to hand out the final award of the evening, entertainer of the year. After the names of the five nominees were read, Gill joked, “The Grascals could get this one if they dressed alike.”
Then he announced that Dailey & Vincent had won.
Noting that he had been a sideman for both his sister and for Ricky Skaggs, Vincent said, “To be up front and interact with the fans is so much fun for me.”
Skaggs closed the program with a medley of standards from bluegrass’ golden age — “Toy Heart,” “Lonesome River” and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” Although the show was running late by this time, the crowd stayed on and applauded as fervently as if it were the first performance of the evening.
Here’s a list of the winners:
Entertainer of the Year: Dailey & Vincent
Vocal Group: Dailey & Vincent
Album: Dailey & Vincent
Instrumental Group: Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
Song: “Through The Window of a Train,” Blue Highway, written by Tim Stafford and Steve Gulley
Male Vocalist: Jamie Dailey
Female Vocalist: Dale Ann Bradley
Recorded Event: Everett Lily & Everybody and Their Brother, Various Artists
Instrumental Album: Sound of the Slide Guitar, Andy Hall
Gospel Recorded Performance: “By the Mark,” Dailey & Vincent
Emerging Artist: Dailey & Vincent
Instrumental Performers: Kristin Scott Benson (banjo), Barry Bales (bass),
Michael Cleveland (fiddle), Rob Ickes (Dobro), Josh Williams (guitar) and
Adam Steffey (mandolin)
International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame: Bill Clifton, the late Charles Wolfe