Elation - 10/2/2012

We never saw this coming.  I have been basically numb since Kitsy Kuykendall and Sam Bush called out our name as Entertainer of the Year Thursday night at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards from the Ryman stage in Nashville, TN.  I hugged Leigh and floated to the stage.  As Leigh was speaking to the audience, all I could think of was Dad.  He is never far away.  It choked me up and I don't know exactly what I said when it was my turn to speak, but I hope it came out okay.  So thankful, so overwhelmed with various emotions, but mostly joy.  I have never had a year with such extreme lows and highs.  The competition was so tough in that category that winning the award might rank as the biggest surprise in my life.  People say, "You worked hard. You earned it."  You know, everybody in that room works hard.  I see them out on the trail, loving what they do, but missing home.  I see them suspending reality to chase a dream that doesn't always make sense.  I saw it as Junior Sisk melted upon winning Album of the Year.  You hear "no" many more times in this business than 'yes,' so it is unbelievably sweet when things go your way.  As elated as I was, I tried not to smile too wide after the show walking around the Renaissance because I know there are people on the other end of the spectrum who have worked hard with little to show.  I have been there.  I have been in the business long enough to know that one song can change things and get things rolling in a better direction.  For us, "Ring the Bell" was the song that grabbed the industry's attention a few years ago,  and I think we have made the most of that attention ever since.  It gave us that shot in the arm just when we needed it.

Corina was the first person I called, and I got out "Thank you" before emotion took over again.  She has let me chase this dream by giving me the green light to leave a secure teaching job in order to give my all to a lifestyle with no safety net down below.  She was so happy and I wished I had brought her to Nashville.  If I had known we were going to win, I would have!  I will never forget getting home at 6 a.m. Saturday after driving all day Friday and most of the night to see a cake with "Congratulations Eric" on the kitchen table and balloons everywhere.  What a woman I have.   I would never have been able to do this without her.  That may sound like a cliche, but I know it to be true. 

I am so thankful for Mike, Clayton, and Joe.  They are ultimate team players.  I never feel nervous going on stage with those guys.  It is going to be right and they are never going to let us down.  I can honestly say that they have never mailed it in for even a minute on stage.  I am so proud of them all and they are a giant reason we came away with the awards.  We have seen a lot of the world together as a band, and I hope to see a lot more.

Leigh.  That sonofagun makes it all work. He is the problem-solver, the peacemaker in this group.  He works so hard on a day-to-day basis, calm and measured.  I am fiery and he deals with me well.  He lets me be who I am and I love  him.  We never dreamed we'd be standing on the Ryman stage in the presence of heroes accepting awards when we first brought our voices together in a barn on the Canadian border.  I think it was an old Buck Owens song or maybe a Jim and Jesse song when we hit a harmony together as we worked in the calf barn some time in the mid-80s. I remember being taken by surprise by how good we sounded together. We weren't so sure of our voices alone, but together there was a buzz. Neither one of us bothered with Chorus in school or had done any singing outside of joining along with the church congregation. We had been playing our instruments for a few years, but this harmony thing felt like a flash going off. It worked. It still does, thank God.