A tight-knit community of bluegrass musicians will reunite Friday and Saturday for the 44th annual Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) Bluegrass Music Awards at the Capitol Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Jefferson City.
The Farm Hands, an award-winning quartet from Nashville, will host the show for the third time in a row.
Tim Graves, The Farm Hands’ Grammy award-winning guitar player, said the awards show is a time for bands and musicians’ peers and fans to recognize them.
For the Collins Brothers Band, which will perform both days, bluegrass has been a generational gig. There are Dale and Gene, cousins of brothers Rob and Mike, and a close friend, Ty Green, who they call family. Three generations have filtered the music to their children, and Dale, Gene, Rob and Mike’s fathers performed in the SPBGMA awards when they were held near the Lake of the Ozarks.
“For us to be back there playing now, it comes full circle for us,” Dale Collins said.
The fathers also were on a radio station in west Memphis, Arkansas, in the 1940s.
And it doesn’t stop there.
“Our grandpa, Jim, was a fiddle player even before that,” Dale Collins said. “I know the stories go back to them singing around the piano at the house and Grandpa playing the fiddle there.”
Mike Collins remembers going back and forth between houses to practice.
“The boys would come over to our house or we would go to their house when Dad and them would practice,” Mike Collins said. “It was just a natural thing.”
Dale Collins hopes his 13-year-old son, Joey Collins, will become the fourth generation to carry on the tradition.
“When I found out my wife was pregnant, I always sang to her belly,” Dale laughed.
Joey currently plays violin in his school orchestra.
Casey Freeland, of Casey and the Atta Boys, said one of her challenges is the stigma bluegrass brings.
“They think hillbilly, overalls, you know, kind of the old-timey music; and there is a part of that,” she said. “There is this whole other world of bluegrass that people haven’t experienced, and some are hesitant.”
Her band, scheduled to perform Friday and during the Saturday awards ceremony, usually plays at restaurants, clubs, fundraisers and private events. Her husband, Kelly, is in the 6-year-old band along with their friends Andrew Morton and Justin George.
She recalled a wedding they played last year, where a majority of the attendees were from the East Coast. Many of them didn’t know what a banjo was.
“You see people that just kind of stare at us for a while, trying to figure out what it is,” she said.
This weekend will be the band’s first time performing at the SPBGMA awards.
Before the awards ceremony, there will be “jamming” in the lobby area, and bands will have tables set out with CDs and merchandise, SPBGMA President Stephanie Jones said.
Jones hopes to sell 500-700 tickets this year.
Admission is $10 for Friday night and $15 for both shows. During the day Saturday, both shows are $20. At night, admission to the show with the awards ceremony is $15. Both days in total are $30. Children under 12 enter for half price.