Bluegrass Industry Contributors Announced as 2022 Recipients of the IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award

Bluegrass Industry Contributors Announced as 2022 Recipients of the IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award

Nashville, TN, July 26, 2022 – – Several organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to bluegrass music were named as 2022 recipients of the IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award: flatpicking innovator Dan Crary, cutting-edge roots music organization FreshGrass Foundation, revered banjo creator and musician Steve Huber, the legendary Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Will the Circle Be Unbroken album, and online education leaders Peghead Nation.

Plaques will be presented to recipients on Thursday, September 29, during the Industry Awards luncheon at the IBMA Business Conference. Specific times and additional details for this event, and for other IBMA World of Bluegrass events, will be shared in the coming weeks across the organization’s social media platforms, through email notification, and at

More on this year’s recipients:

Dan Crary is a flatpicking stylist with an international reputation for innovation, taste and brilliance. With more than 50 years as a performer, Crary is one of the few artists whose work can be said to transcend the boundaries of style and genre. In his travels around the United States, Crary learned and integrated traditional American styles and tunes, transforming them into strongly personal and creative works that are at once deeply rooted and freshly new.

In the late 1960s, Crary moved to Louisville, Kentucky to pursue a doctorate degree in philosophy. While there, he became a co-founder of The Bluegrass Alliance – one of the first “progressive” bluegrass bands that a short time later included Sam Bush and Tony Rice. It was there that Dan developed his lead guitar playing skills, and the band was one of the few at the time that featured a lead guitar player. In 1970, he released his first album, titled Bluegrass Guitar. He later formed a trio with fiddler Byron Berline and banjo player John Hickman – Berline, Crary and Hickman, recorded several projects for Sugar Hill and eventually morphed into a combo called California, which was active through most of the 1990s and won IBMA’s Instrumental Group of the Year awards three years in a row, from 1992 through 1994.

A long and distinguished recording career has brought Dan Crary acclaim as a versatile performer able to range from Mozart to Anglo-American fiddle tunes to moody, evocative original compositions. The 1994 recording, Jammed If I Do, with guests Tony Rice, Doc Watson, Norman Blake, and Beppe Gambetta, was hailed as one of the decade’s great gatherings of guitarists. His contributions to bluegrass have enriched the music, and he has served as an inspiration to the scores of lead guitar pickers who followed and learned from him.

The FreshGrass Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to create and celebrate innovative grassroots music. Their core belief is that the simple acts of making and sharing roots music are among the most effective ways to spread joy and love, to improve lives and communities, and to make a profoundly positive impact on the world.

  • The FreshGrass Foundation’s activities are multi-pronged and multi-disciplinary:
  • They curate two forward-thinking festivals each year, including their flagship FreshGrass Festival in North Adams, MA and their newly launched festival in Bentonville, AR, both staged on the campus of a celebrated contemporary art museum.
  • They offer a variety of commissions for musicians to create original music as well as awards and grants for developing artists to promote and encourage excellence.
  • They publish No Depression, a website and newsletter that features artist profiles, new releases and roots music news, as well as quarterly print journal that showcases long-form journalism on roots music topics.
  • They produce Folk Alley, a 24-hour internet radio channel dedicated to roots music.
  • They co-fund and administer The Steve Martin Banjo Prize which recognizes excellence across the spectrum of banjo styles with an annual unrestricted cash award.
  • They operate and manage Studio 9, a state-of-the-art recording studio and event space in North Adams, MA.

The Foundation also develops strategic partnerships with like-minded 501(c)(3)s to further the cause of roots music, with current collaborators including the Silkroad Project, Artists at Work (AAW) and the House of Songs.

Through their unique, cutting-edge and collaborative approach, The FreshGrass Foundation has elevated bluegrass music, enriching our community and giving bluegrass artists an expansive platform from which to reach a broader audience.

Steve Huber, creator of the legendary Huber banjos and tone rings that are considered the “gold standard” of modern bluegrass banjos, is also recognized as one of the finest Scruggs-style banjo players working today. Huber began his touring career during his college years in Pennsylvania with The Paisleys and Paul Adkins. After moving to Nashville to work on vintage instruments for George Gruhn, Steve continued touring and performing with many notable artists for years before beginning a long and productive association with the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band.

Steve’s lifetime fascination with the sound of pre-war Gibson banjos and training as a mechanical engineer led him to develop his legendary Huber Vintage tone rings in the 1990s. The Huber rings were warmly received by bluegrass banjo players everywhere. Soon thereafter, Steve formed the Huber Banjo Company and began offering his own line of banjos. Huber banjos have been played and endorsed by prominent artists including Sammy Shelor, Jim Mills, Ben Eldredge, Chris Pandolfi, Jason Burleson, Greg Cahill, Ron Block, and many more.

Steve stopped touring after the birth of his daughter in 2005 but recently started playing regularly again with his own band, Steve Huber & The Flatheads, at the Station Inn in Nashville. The Huber Banjo Company proudly continues to serve the needs of the bluegrass banjo community with a full line of banjos and banjo components as well as through the brokerage of vintage Gibson banjos. The company has produced more than 2,100 banjos since its inception, and Steve continues to perform at the highest level to audiences who truly appreciate traditional bluegrass music.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Will The Circle Be Unbroken album – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band formed in California in 1966 and became a staple of the wave of California rock that included acts like the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Eagles. In 1971 the band had a novel idea – to get together in Nashville with the bluegrass musicians that had influenced them, and so began the collaboration that Rolling Stone magazine would declare “the most important album to come out of Nashville.” In the summer of 1971, the musicians sat in a circle recording country and bluegrass standards in East Nashville’s Woodland Studio with Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Jimmy Martin, Vassar Clements, Roy Acuff, Mother Maybelle Carter, Norman Blake, and many other stars.

Out of that magical collaboration came one of the most iconic albums in American history, one that melded musical worlds and bridged generations.

This award is being presented in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Will the Circle Be Unbroken album and its resounding effect on bluegrass music and those musicians that followed, and the 60 years of success by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Peghead Nation has been a leader in online education for the bluegrass industry since its founding in 2014 by three friends and colleagues who had worked together in music magazine and media publishing for nearly two decades. Co-founders Dan Gabel, Scott Nygaard, and Teja Gerken are each passionate musicians with deep professional experience in acoustic music instruction, journalism, and business. When they were launching Peghead Nation, their vision was to create an inspiring, accessible, and cost-effective community for students of acoustic stringed instruments to learn from the best players and instructors in roots music. In short, to help passionate musicians at all levels progress on their instruments and have more fun playing the music they love.

With over 50 streaming video courses and live workshops in acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, dobro, ukulele, and upright bass, Peghead Nation is now a primary destination for passionate players of bluegrass, old-time, and other roots styles. The courses feature multi-angle HD video lessons, accurate notation and tablature, a library of Play-Along Tracks, and much more, with instructors who unlock practical musical secrets in each lesson and teach tunes called in jams the world over. All of this with the goal of increasing students’ skills and confidence when they pick up their instruments.

And with Peghead Nation’s inspiring performance videos, informative demonstrations of instruments and gear, and content from their Partner companies, musicians stay informed about the current state of the broad roots music community.

Through their work, Peghead Nation has led the way in helping scores of aspiring bluegrass and roots musicians learn to play and share bluegrass music.

IBMA World of Bluegrass is the most important week in bluegrass! The week encompasses four events: the IBMA Business Conference, September 27-29; the IBMA Bluegrass Ramble, an innovative series of showcases taking place September 27-29 in downtown Raleigh and at the Raleigh Convention Center; the 33rd Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards, scheduled for Thursday evening, September 29, and IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC, September 30-October 1, a two-day festival. IBMA Bluegrass Live! features the best of the best in bluegrass today, benefiting the IBMA Trust Fund—a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that assists bluegrass professionals during financial emergencies—and introducing the music to thousands of new fans every year.

About IBMA

IBMA – the International Bluegrass Music Association – is the non-profit music association that connects, educates, and empowers bluegrass professionals and enthusiasts, honoring tradition and encouraging innovation in the bluegrass community worldwide. IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC, featuring the best of the best in bluegrass today, helps benefit the IBMA Trust Fund—a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that assists bluegrass professionals during financial emergencies—and introducing the music to thousands of new fans every year.



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