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Several New Mexicans take home music awards

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lemitar’s Doug Figgs, horseshoer, rancher and Western music singer-songwriter, is among several New Mexicans who received awards during the Nov. 7-11 International Western Music Association convention at the Hotel Albuquerque.

Figgs was honored as IWMA male performer of the year, beating out four other finalists.

“It’s a really cool deal for me because the other guys who were nominated are heroes of mine, all of them,” Figgs said.

One of those other guys is Albuquerque’s Jim Jones, who was the IWMA’s male performer of the year in 2014.

But Jones is a winner this year, too, because The Cowboy Way, a trio made up of Jones, Figgs and Socorro’s Mariam Funke, were named IWMA group of the year for the second year in a row. Funke, a master of most stringed instruments known to man as well as drums, accordion and more, was also a finalist this year for instrumentalist of the year honors.

Albuquerque’s Bobbi Jean Bell rounds out the list of New Mexico IWMA winners. Bell, who moved here from California almost a year ago, and her Nashville-area co-host Gary Holt are winners of the DJ and radio program of the year award. Bell and Holt ramrod the online weekly radio show Campfire Cafe, which can be heard live at from 11 a.m. to noon, Mountain time, on Thursdays.

“I was shocked,” Bell said. “We were resting on our laurels just because we were nominated. I was taking pictures of the (award) presenters when my husband tapped me on the leg and said, ‘They are calling your name.'” Instead of playing the music of multiple artists, each Campfire Cafe program focuses on a single musician.

“The thing that makes us different is the opportunity to interview a musician in depth, to learn about (his or her) background and play six to eight of (his or her) songs,” Bell said.

The Cowboy Way recently released its second CD, “Go West.” Last year, the group’s self-titled debut CD won the prestigious Wrangler Award, presented by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, for best traditional Western album.

“One of the things we try to do that makes a difference is combining some of the traditional appeal with a more contemporary songwriting style and musical approach,” Jones said.

Figgs said he is thrilled with the strides The Cowboy Way is making.

“Everything works when we get together,” he said. “And it is so much fun.”