2020 IBMA Guitar Player Of The Year Nominees

2020 IBMA Guitar Player Of The Year Nominees

If you don’t already know, get ready for me to learn ya something. IBMA is still happening this year. But, it’s not how you might expect.

It'll be tough to get that selfie with Rhonda Vincent now.

The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and the local organizing committees in Raleigh, NC have announced that while they aren’t cancelling the event entirely, they will instead be moving forward with a virtual event

Concerns still float through many cities regarding COVID-19, but the association has expressed their eagerness to make the event as wonderful as possible. And frankly, IBMA 2021 better be at the top of your list among other festivals that we hope to see you at next year. 

As we move forward with an online experience for the festival and events, we were thrilled to see the nominee’s for this year’s awards. And while I could spend some time talking about all of the deserving musicians, I think it’s more fitting to focus on our guitar players! I mean *looks around* we are on the LWM site, so guitar is the only thing we care about, right?

So without further ado, below are the nominees and some things you oughta know about them!

Trey Hensley

For everyone who stays caught up on the LWM YouTube channel, you’ve seen Trey a few times. He’s done a few interviews with Marcel. Trey has been playing guitar since the age of ten and quickly became acquainted with various big names and the Opry. After locating to Nashville, he hooked up with dobro player Rob Ickes. Since their meeting, they’ve recorded and toured together on many occasions.

Trey hosts a regular weekly stream on Facebook where you can request songs and see his sweet daughter scream lyrics! If you want something more polished, check out Trey and Rob’s most recent album “World Full of Blues” that they put out last year.

Billy Strings

Billy got his start at an early age. First playing with his father and eventually gaining popularity performing as a duo with Don Julin. Over just a few years, he was invited to play on stage with many country musicians, he played popular festivals and was named Rolling Stones, Top Ten New Country Artists to Know in 2017.

In 2019 he released his album “Home” and won IBMA Guitar Player Of The Year. You can catch up with Billy by watching his streaming tour! And if you’re a fan, LWM has a handful of great videos that can get you started on understanding Billy’s playing.

Bryan Sutton

Bryan Sutton is one of the most celebrated and award winning acoustic guitarists out there. He’s a Grammy winner and has already won this category in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Sutton got his start in Asheville, NC before moving to Nashville, TN in 1994. It was then that he was able to cultivate and establish more musical relationships, so his career was able to blossom.

He’s played with many high profile acts and in 2016 released “The More I Learn”. You can also take lessons with Bryan Sutton through Artistworks to learn more about his personal approach to the instrument.

Molly Tuttle

In 2019 “When You’re Ready” was released, the album propelled Tuttle’s popularity beyond the bluegrass bubble. The California native grew up playing music and in 2015 moved to Nashville to pursue more endeavors that were afforded to her. Her unique style and vast knowledge of the fretboard has helped her to become an intriguing and exciting player winning Guitar Player Of The Year twice, in 2017 and 2018.

Soon, she’ll be releasing an album of cover’s titled “… But I’d Rather be with You”. Additionally, you can find some LWM videos about Tuttle’s playing here. 

Jake Workman

You probably know Jake as the guitar player for Kentucky Thunder but like many of these folks, Jake started his career in music early. At age thirteen he picked up a guitar and leaned into his interest in rock music. His interest in bluegrass grew and eventually he started the group, Driven. Workman teaches guitar and has a degree in Jazz Performance.

Last year, he released his album “Landmark”. He’s an impressive player and a speed demon. You can find the tab for his version of Blackberry Blossom here. 

No matter who wins this year, being nominated and recognized for these achievements is really impressive! So, congrats to those nominees! We look forward to seeing you guitar duel via virtual means. (That’s how this works, right?). 

Let us know who you think will win. But let’s keep it civil, huh?

Kj also writes for Milktoast Magazine. Find it online and follow on Instagram.


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