Best Improv Trio: Kristian Bush, Lindsay Ell, Natalie Stovall
"There's a lot of conversation about women being underrepresented in country music," said Kristian Bush, who then did his part to correct the imbalance. Flanked by two instrumental virtuosi singer/songwriters who also happen to be charismatic performers and female to boot, Bush shared the spotlight generously. Lindsay Ell dazzled on guitar, whether soloing, improvising backup parts or volleying quick licks back and forth with Bush, each urging the other on with approving grins. And Natalie Stovall alternated guitar and fiddle but perhaps impressed most with her writing, particularly on the playfully suggestive "I Wanna Shoot Your Gun." "I can't believe that's my parents' favorite song," she exclaimed, to which Bush sagely replied, "I hate to break it to you, but the most recent song you've written is always your parents' favorite."