The 2018 International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Entertainer of the Year, Balsam Range is named for the mountains surrounding the band’s home base in Haywood County, North Carolina. Balsam Range draws on traditional bluegrass, jazz, country, gospel, swing and old-time elements, brightened by beautiful harmony singing, to produce contemporary roots music that resonates across categories and generations. Since forming in 2007, the group has garnered 13 IBMA awards on the heels of nine critically-acclaimed albums. Balsam Range has left audiences spellbound while headlining major festivals from coast to coast, selling out venues across the nation and in multiple appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. The band includes fiddler-singer Buddy Melton, bassist Tim Surrett, banjo player Marc Pruett, guitarist Caleb Smith and mandolinist Darren Nicholson.
Third time’s the charm for Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, which made its SMF debut in 2012 and returned in 2017. For more than three decades, the award-winning, North Georgia-based bluegrass quintet has maintained a reputation for compelling artistry, world-class harmony singing and crowd pleasing performances in the studio and onstage. In 1991, Moore, Mike Hartgrove and Ray Deaton formed IIIrd Tyme Out, which refers to the number of professional bands in which the trio had previously played. In 1994, they earned the first of an unsurpassed seven consecutive IBMA awards for Vocal Group of the Year, along with Moore’s first of two Male Vocalist of the Year titles. Moore repeated that feat in 2019, winning his sixth. The band’s current lineup includes mandolinist Wayne Benson, banjoist Keith McKinnon, bassist Dustin Pyrtle and fiddler Nathan Aldridge.