Grascals Top IBMAs Again

The Grascals won entertainer of the year for the second year in a row, while newcomers The Infamous Stringdusters tied for most awards with three during the International Bluegrass Music Awards.

The Grascals (the name is a takeoff on the old “Little Rascals” comedy troupe) formed in 2003 as a group of veteran bluegrass sidemen who happened to be between jobs.

“This is so bittersweet for us. God bless you folks for hanging in there with us. We’re having the time of our lives,” the group’s Jamie Johnson told the audience in the Grand Ole Opry House on Thursday.

The Infamous Stringdusters formed only a couple years ago, but the members have played with artists such as Earl Scruggs, Dolly Parton and Lee Ann Womack. Their debut album “Fork in the Road” tied with veteran J.D. Crowe & the New South’s “Lefty’s Old Guitar” for album of the year. The album’s title track won song of the year _ an award they shared with songwriters Chris Jones and John Pennell _ and the group also was chosen the year’s emerging artists.

“This is amazing. I don’t know what to say,” said Andy Hall, the band’s singer and dobro player. “I know bluegrass music has been a huge part of our life. This is all our friends here tonight.”

Banjo ace Tony Trischka also took home three awards: banjo player of the year and both instrumental album of the year and recorded event of the year for his “Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular.”

Trischka thanked Steve Martin, who played on the album.

“He made it possible for bluegrass to get on network television,” Trischka said of Martin, mentioning the “Late Show With David Letterman” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

Dale Ann Bradley won female vocalist of the year, breaking Rhonda Vincent’s record of seven straight wins.

“I appreciate this more than I can ever tell you,” a tearful Bradley said.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver took home their seventh vocal group award and sixth for gospel recorded performance for “He Lives in Me,” and Michael Cleveland & the Flamekeepers featuring Audie Blaylock won instrumental group of the year. Cleveland also won fiddle player of the year.

“It goes without saying that gospel music is special to me. I believe what I’m singing about,” Lawson said.

The show’s host, Sam Bush, won mandolin player of the year. He told the crowd, “I’m the most surprised person here tonight.”

Bradley Walker took home the male vocalist award.

The night’s leading nominee, Vincent and her band The Rage with 11, were shut out. Vincent was scheduled to be on the show but an IBMA official said she was ill and did not attend.

Fellow perennial favorites Alison Krauss & Union Station, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder and The Del McCoury Band also were noticeably absent when winners were announced.

The IBMA also inducted the two newest members of its Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. Howard Watts, also known as Cedric Rainwater, was the bass player in the classic version of Bill Monroe & his Bluegrass Boys, while Carl Story has often been billed as the “Father of Bluegrass Gospel Music.”