When the IBMA Awards celebrated the 75th birthday of bluegrass in 2020, they brought out the best banjo pickers in the business for an all-star tribute to J.D. Crowe. A pioneering figure of the 1970s whose hard-driving approach has never gone out of style, Crowe remains a musical hero to many. When the community learned of his death on December 24, 2021, the IBMA honored his legacy by posting this special performance of “Blackjack” from the 2020 broadcast. Due to COVID protocols, all of the musicians were socially distanced but nonetheless forged a strong connection standing side by side on the Ryman Auditorium stage.
With an introduction from good friend and former bandmate Jerry Douglas, the clip features cornerstones of the industry like Sam Bush on mandolin, David Grier on guitar, and Missy Raines on bass. In a fitting gesture, the spotlight also shines on all five nominees for Banjo Player of the Year: Kristin Scott Benson, Gena Britt, Gina Furtado, Ned Luberecki, and Scott Vestal. Watch all the way through, as Crowe himself gives it his stamp of approval at the end.
Photo Credit: Shelly Swanger