Eric 2010/10/03 10:31am

A magical year hit its crescendo on Thursday night when we were honored by the IBMA with Gospel Recorded Performance and Song of the Year for "Ring the Bell" at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. I had tried to downplay the nominations to some degree for self-preservation, not wanting to get our hopes up and then feeling disappointment. I thought we might have a chance as we really felt good about our record and toured heavily in support of it. We had so many folks tell us the past month or so that they'd voted for us and were pulling for us. Having an album with two number ones might have been a sign as well. The feeling I've been getting on stage lately with a band that's been playing a lot of shows -- kind of like driving a Cadillac with everything clicking on all cylinders and the crowds' responses to that feeling -- might have been a sign. The little voice telling me to buy a new suit for the occasion might have been an indicator as well. Still, right before the first award was announced, Leigh turned to me and said, "You do the talking if our name is called." I responded, "No, YOU do the talking!" I thought for a moment and said, "Don't worry about it. We won't be up on stage anyway."

You see, in the music business you get used to hearing "no." You steel yourself to it and know there will be disappointments, but the highs are worth the lows. So you play little mental games with yourself to keep it together. People were telling me they were praying for me, and I was thinking, "Pray that I can handle coming away with nothing." I could tell people it was nice to be nominated -- which it was -- but deep down I really wanted to come away with something. I could tell that was the feeling a lot of people in the Ryman were feeling. THAT in itself was a reward. I think we've fought the good fight and have put out a quality product for years. Somehow it all came together Thursday night. "Ring the Bell" was announced and we heard the applause and I'm on my feet before I know it and Leigh's hugging me. Somehow we made it to the stage with RTB songwriter Chet O'Keefe and I hope the words that came out made sense. Our hearts are full and we are happy.

The night is still a blur to me. We had people like Del and the boys, Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, Claire Lynch, Tim Stafford, Mark Schatz, Mike Bub, and Alison Krauss congratulating us. We had never met Alison before, so it was such a thrill to exchange a few words with her. Dierks Bentley and Michael Martin Murphy were very nice as well. Jamie Dailey and Darren Vincent (big winners again) came up to Leigh with huge smiles and kind words. We feel so proud to be a part of the bluegrass world. I was touched to hear John Hartford's words from his daughter when accepting John's entry into the Hall of Honor. "Bluegrass is America's last small town, a place where everyone knows everyone and you don't have to lock your doors." God, I hope it stays that way even as it grows and more and more people come under the tent. I know I am biased, but bluegrass is a special place.

We will not rest. This gives us a major shot in the arm heading into our next recording this month. We rehearsed a lot on our latest California swing (which was great and I haven't had time to process. Lots of sunshine, laughter, and Mexican food! California always feels so right). The boys in the band kept smiling and saying, "Man, this is going to be a great album!" It needs to be. Especially now.