Best Folk Artist - 2010
Consider Ryan Spearman the jujitsu master of folk music. Whether as a solo artist or performing around town with formal and informal blues and old-time groups, he uses his considerable knowledge of folk material and unassailable skill on guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica and fiddle to disarm any attempt to fix tradition in history books or on wax cylinders. Spearman's 2010 album Live at the Chapel is no less than a clinic on how to update tradition without losing what makes mastering the old language worthwhile. His music speaks to the old spirits and teaches them a thing or two about contemporary life and song as well.