ASHLAND “Thunder Dan” is finally getting his due.
The bluegrass song, written by Summit resident Josh Manning, has been named International Bluegrass Music Awards Song of the Year for 2019.
Manning, 39, said he learned about four months ago the song was nominated; it made the cut to be one of the final seven and he learned it was the winner last month after the awards ceremony in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“I was invited but I couldn’t go,” he said. “Sideline couldn’t go, either.”
Sideline is the band that recorded “Thunder Dan” and made the video that brought attention to the song.
“I was shocked that it went as far as it did,” Manning said of the song. “I knew it had a chance, but you never think with all the songs out there that you’ll win.”
Manning, a member of the band New Time, wrote the song 10 years ago, but his band didn’t perform it.
“I had the song published by a friend with a publishing company and I get paid royalties from radio play,” he said.
Manning also has a solo career. He recorded “Thunder Dan” on his CD with some of his musician friends, including award-winning vocalist Don Rigsby; Clay Hess, mandolin player; Jim Van Cleve, fiddle; and Jason Hale, bass.
But the song didn’t draw much attention, and Manning blames himself.
“I didn’t go out there and promote it and push it because I’m just a local guy,” he said. “I just ordered enough to sell around here and at local shows.”
He said another band approached him about recording it, but it never took off.
Eventually, the North Carolina-based band named Sideline heard “Thunder Dan” and asked Manning about recording it.
“A few weeks later, they called and said the label wanted to do a music video, he said.
The song topped the Bluegrass Today Monthly Chart and later was No. 1 on Bluegrass Today’s Top 30 Songs of 2018.
It was Sideline’s first IBMA.
Of course, Manning is pleased with the success.
“It is really cool. I never honestly thought it was going to go that way, but it just caught on. The band promoted it a lot, too.”
Manning’s wife is Joy Manning; they have three sons: Justin, Jaxon and Jace.
“The right band did it, that’s for sure,” he said.
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