We’re down to the “Elite Eight.”
Third-round voting is complete in our “IBMAdness Bluegrass Bracket,” to determine the best bluegrass artist ever as decided by your votes. All four top seeds are still alive – but there were a few cliffhangers and surprises in round three, leaving us with eight acts still standing from the original field of 64.
Now we move on to the fourth round, to set the “Final Four” – who are invited to go hang banjo strings (or basketball nets) from the Sir Walter Raleigh statue on the Banjostand. And here’s how it looks:
Bill Monroe, The Father of Bluegrass and overall top seed, has yet to be seriously challenged, even by Doyle Lawson. He beat the 5th-seeded Lawson with more than 85 percent of votes cast, the most lopsided result in the third round.
Awaiting Monroe in the fourth round is Deep Gap native and flat-picking icon Doc Watson, the 3 seed in “The Ramblers,” who surpassed 2nd-seeded Del McCoury with surprising ease (more than a two-to-one margin). Doc versus Bill should be a monster matchup.
Flatt & Scruggs, featuring Boiling Springs-born Earl Scruggs, is the No. 1 seed in “The Pickers.” And they’re still in good position after holding off 5th-seeded Bela Fleck by a comfortable two-to-one margin in the third round.
Their fourth-round opponent is somewhat unexpected, however – 6 seed Jerry Douglas, who narrowly upset the 2nd-seeded Carter Family by just four votes. If anybody could pull a surprise out of his Dobro and take down Flatt & Scruggs short of the finals, Douglas seems like the one.
Alison Krauss, the 4 seed in “The Travelers,” came heart-stoppingly close to pulling an upset of the top-seeded Stanley Brothers. But in a razor-thin close call, she came up a single vote short.
That puts the Stanley Brothers in the regional final against 2 seed Ricky Skaggs, who continued to cruise by a solid two-to-one margin over 6th-seeded Nickel Creek. This region, by the way, is the only one to come down to a 1-versus-2 regional final.
“The Rounders” has been the most unpredictable region, but it reset to close to normal in the third round — although not without a couple of close calls. The 12th-seeded Steve Martin’s Cinderella run ended at the hands of No. 1 seed the Osborne Brothers, but only by a single vote.
Likewise, 10 seed Dolly Parton could not quite pull off another upset, falling to 6 seed Peter Rowan by just four votes. Osborne Brothers against Rowan makes “The Rounders” one of two regions with a 1-versus-6 regional final.
Fourth-round voting goes until noon Eastern Time Wednesday. Go to nando.com/bluegrassbracket to register and vote, which registers you for the grand-prize drawing of a kayak, courtesy of Great Outdoor Provision Co.