Eric 2009/10/06 9:21am

What an honor it was to be a part of the IBMA Awards show at the Ryman in Nashville. "Iron & Diamonds" did not win, but the night was still special for us. Marty Stuart has said that if you've been asked to play the Mother Church of Country Music, your country pedigree need not be questioned. I felt confident with our band on that stage, but it's also humbling to know how many legends have appeared there. Some of them even came up to us with kind and sincere words, people like Ricky Skaggs, Tim O'Brien, and Sam Bush -- all guys on our musical Rushmore. It was great to chat with Tom T. Hall before the show, and we met this up-and-coming banjo player named Steve Martin, as down-to-earth as could be. So many things happened that I'm still trying to sort them out in my mind. I don't think we'll ever forget the night and we are so thankful to the IBMA for asking us to play "Ring the Bell" on that hallowed stage.

We got up early on Friday after the show and drove to Guthrie, OK, to play Byron Berline's wonderful festival. It was nice to play there with my voice in good shape. Leigh had to carry me the year before, and I was certain we'd never get asked back. Thankfully, they did, and once again we played for some of the nicest people we've ever met. We had a great time on-stage and an even better time off picking late into the night on Friday and Saturday. Byron is such a gentleman and a beautiful fiddle player. He looks like he could be the lead cowboy in a classic western, kind of in the Gary Cooper mode. He doesn't say much, but he makes his words count. You get the feeling that a handshake would go a long way with him. Okay, the whole band wants to grow up to be Byron Berline! We haven't grown up yet though. The five of us took a van to breakfast, a van that only comfortably sat four. Joe volunteered to sit in the cargo area in the back. Mike and I followed suit. Leigh pulled into the crowded restaurant parking lot, opened up the hatch, and demanded, "Get out!" Three grown fools popped out of the back, receiving some befuddled Oklahoman stares.