What Makes an Award-Winning Country Instrumental?

This year’s winner of the Best Country Instrumental Grammy was Brad Paisley – Hot Country, electric guitar playing Brad Paisley. Jim Blum was not impressed and said so during a special segment he did on the Grammys. A couple of listeners called him on his comments (he said judges might have been asleep to pass up The Time Jumpers, Russ Barenberg, The Greencards, and Andy Statman in favor of Paisley) and said that Paisley, one of the most respected instrumentalists in Country, deserved the honor. Jim’s answer was that Paisley had the advantage of name recognition.

While that is most certainly true, I think he was also at a disadvantage because this award generally goes to a bluegrass performance (Since 2000, it’s gone to Alison Krauss twice, Earl Scruggs & co. twice and Alison Brown & Bela Fleck. Last year, it went to Bryan Sutton & Doc Watson. In 2002, it went to the Dixie Chicks, which is closer to Hot Country, but they still have bluegrass cred). My opinion? The category is Best Country Instrumental, not best traditional country or best bluegrass. Why shouldn’t Paisley be honored for excellence if he is genuinely producing stand-out work? NB, I don’t have the album and had to listen to the song as a YouTube video made on someone’s cell phone, so it’s hard to tell. BTW, whoever writes Paisley’s news section does a great job and has his/her own comments on the Grammys. And, you have to take any award with a grain of salt. What do you think?

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