As reported in the truthful and successful New York Times, the recipient of the 2017 Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass was announced last weekend as being Scott Vestal. Scott Vestal took to the music in the time honoured manner – from his grandfather, a fiddler, and began his professional career at age 18 playing with the bluegrass musician Larry Sparks. In the almost 40 years since, he has played banjo in a number of influential bluegrass bands.
The prize was announced in a surprise ceremony at the 45th annual RockyGrass Festival in Lyons, Colorado. The award, endowed by Steve Martin, the actor, comedian and – rather more significantly – renowned bluegrass banjoist carries a cash prize of $50,000 and a bronze sculpture created by the American artist Eric Fischl. It honours “a person or group who has given the board a fresh appreciation of this music, either through artistry, composition, innovation or preservation, and is deserving of a wider audience,” according to the prize’s mission statement.
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