Banjo player extraordinaire Eddie Adcock is the 2014 recipient of the 5th annual Steve Martin Prize. for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Adcock has been one of bluegrass music’s most revolutionary performers for over fifty years. He cut his musical teeth with Bill Monroe and Mac Wiseman, and played in the groundbreaking group The Country Gentlemen, one of the most popular and progressive bluegrass bands of the late ’50s and ’60s.
His work with his wife, Martha Adcock, has garnered three Grammy nominations as well as appearances at the Kennedy Center. Adcock was the first internationally acclaimed five-string bluegrass banjo player to appear at Carnegie Hall. He was also inducted into the IBMA’s prestigious Hall of Honor.
At age 70, Adcock underwent brain surgery to correct a condition called “essential tremor” that hampered his ability to perform everyday tasks as well as play his beloved banjo. Remarkably, Adcock played the banjo throughout the procedure so the surgeon could repair the part of his brain that would allow him to continue to play.
The Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass provides the winner with an unrestricted cash prize of fifty-thousand dollars, as well as a bronze sculpture created specifically for the prize by noted artist Eric Fischl. Created to bring recognition to an individual or group for outstanding accomplishment in the field of five-string banjo or bluegrass music, the prize highlights the extraordinary musicianship of these artists and bluegrass music worldwide. The winner is determined by a board consisting of J.D Crowe, Pete Wernick, Tony Trischka, Anne Stringfield, Alison Brown, Neil V. Rosenberg, Béla Fleck and Steve Martin.
The award is given to a person or group who has given the board a fresh appreciation of this music, either through artistry, composition, innovation or preservation, and is deserving of a wider audience. Recipients must be a professional or semi-professional and should currently be active in their careers.
The award is funded personally by the Steve Martin Charitable Foundation.