MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (10/1/13) – The many legendary Muhlenberg guitar thumbpickers would have been proud of the two big nights of phenomenal music enjoyed this weekend at the Merle Travis Music Center.
With award winners from as far away as Japan, (Horizon Award Co-winner Shohei Toyoda) and audience members from Ontario, California, New Hampshire, and beyond... the 25th Anniversary of the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame Awards was truly a pickers' paradise.
On Friday night, 2013 winners were announced, joining a list of names like Muhlenberg County natives Mose Rager, Merle Travis and Ike Everly, along with stars who learned the Muhlenberg picking style and took it worldwide, such as Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and Grandpa Jones.
The Hall of Fame winners list this year included Comer "Moon" Mullins, for Best Living Thumbpicker, JD Norman, inducted posthumously for his guitar talent, Tommy Emmanuel was voted Thumbpicker of the Year, Album of the Year honors went to John Knowles, Best Supporting Musicians were Bernard “Bear” Travis and Michael Moseley, and Supporting Fan awards went to Jim & Diane Miller. Shohei Toyoda, of Japan, shared the Horizon Award with Sojourner McClure, and the President’s Award went to Lana Moseley and Penny Pennington.
Saturday night, a standing-room-only crowd enjoyed a second night of Muhlenberg music capped off by one of this year's inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Bobby Bare, who joked, "Heck, I ought to get a thumbpickers award...heck, I do use my thumb to play."
Bare also noted that he was honored to be voted into the Country Music Hall of Fame the same year as close friend Kenny Rogers.
"Shoot, I already thought Kenny was done in the Country Music Hall of Fame 25 years ago... until they announced his name." Bare added with a laugh.
Bare proceeded to bring the crowd to their feet with his long string of hits including "Detroit City", "500 Miles Away from Home, "Marie Laveau" and "God Bless America Again".
Other Saturday evening performers included Scott Taylor, Pat Kirtley, Paul Moseley, Freddie Russel, John Knowles, Ben Hall and Mark Thornton.
Surprise guest Thom Bresh, the son of the late music legend Merle Travis, please the crowd with a song Bresh wrote in honor of his father, "Guitar in The Window", and "Reed Between the Lines", a tribute to Hall of Fame member, Jerry Reed, who passed away five years ago.
One delightful addition to this year's show was the Endless Road Strings", who added a whole new dimension to several of the pickers' set, proving that classical strings and back country thumbpicking can combine to create a whole new sound that the audience loved.
Hall of Fame Executive Director Joe Hudson noted the 25th year for the awards show was a huge success. Hudson has marveled at the event's growth from the start, when it was held in the Drakesboro school gym, Paradise Park, "and local resident Clarence Brewer was even nice enough to let us have it on his property a few times."
Now, with sellout crowds each year at the Merle Travis Music Center, many who attended this weekend's show are likely already making their plans to attend the 26th annual event in 2014.
Hudson noted that there is more legendary music , with coming to the center October 19th, when Country Music Hall of Fame member, and world famous harmonica player Charlie McCoy comes to the Merle Travis Music Center.
McCoy has played session work for decades with the likes of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, and won a Grammy for his album, "The Real McCoy",
To keep up with future thumbpicking events throughout the year log on to www.ntphf.com.
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