GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County musical group brought home the hardware during the weekend from an awards ceremony in Tennessee.
Gallipolis-based Open Rail on Saturday earned “Bluegrass Group of the Year” during the fourth International Music and Entertainment Association Awards. The event took place at Middle Tennessee State University’s Tucker Theatre in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Open Rail consists of band members John Caldwell (mandolin), Don Titus (banjo), Brian Ison (bass), and Shane Lail and Mike Sheppard (guitar). The group has performed bluegrass music across eight states during the last nine years.
“Being from small-town USA and receiving an award for the work and efforts you put in is a wonderful thing,” Ison said. “To be honored as an international award winner is more than we could have ever dreamed for.”
On the band’s website (www.openrailbluegrass.com), members state the venue was “top notch, with a red carpet entrance and industry members all around.”
According to Ison, Open Rail is a member of the International Music and Entertainment Association that recognizes members in both music and theatrical departments.
“The band submitted an application and music samples to the association’s nominating committee,” he said. “The committee selected four bands in the Bluegrass Group of the Year category as this year’s nominees. The winner is selected from the nominee that gathers the best of three voting rounds.”
Those voting rounds include an online ballot (one vote per email address), a peer-to-peer vote by IMEA members only, and a committee consisting of no less than 10 IMEA officials who cast their vote based on a review of the submissions. Ison added that the nominating committee also votes.
Open Rail was one of the first to perform last Saturday night, meaning the band didn’t know they had won until much later in the evening.
“Our award group would be in the first group to be announced so we waited with the patience of a 3-year-old in a candy store,” the band’s website states. “Then we hear the words that we have waited months to hear: Bluegrass Band of the Year, and the winner is … Open Rail.”
“We were so thrilled to be named for this award. All the hard work and efforts that we put together as a band were recognized by industry peers,” Ison said.
Open Rail performs at several area venues the remainder of this month. They’ll perform at 10 a.m. Oct. 16 at Rodney Church of Light; 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Penny Royal Opera House in Fairview; 10 a.m. Oct. 23 at New Life Christian Union Church, in Piketon; and 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at First Church of God Harvest Fest in Point Pleasant, W.Va..
To listen to some of Open Rail’s music, visit www.reverbnation.com/openrailbg.
Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.