Wednesday, September 30, 2009

IBMA 2009 - Tuesday Teaser

Around here folks say IBMA means "I've Been Mostly Awake."  It's true.  We got to bed shortly after 3:00 this morning and are due back for brunch in time to get in line around 10:00.  Here's an dozen pics representing highlights for us.  More tomorrow.

 Martin Guitar Booth in Exhibition Hall

 Donna Ulisse Booth

Terry Baucom at Knee Deep in Bluegrass Booth

Kenny and Amanda Smith

Adam Steffe

David Davis

Sierra Hull and Tina

 Larry Cordle

Jerry Salley

 Carl Jackson

 Brooke Aldridge

Darin Aldridge's all folks.  Gotta get dressed and get to town. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

IBMA 2009 - Monday

The annual convention of the International Bluegrass Music Association convened in the Nashville Convention Center on Monday for a seven day run.  It has a large and complext program including seminars and meetings, an exhbition center, banquets, awards, and dozens of artist showcases, official, after hours, and private.  There's no way to keep up with it all.  This week is also one of the busiest of the year for us, because, in addition to covering the event for this blog, we're fans and want to see as much as we can as well as visit with old and new friends.  What follows for the next few days will be impressionistic with lots of pictures and not much text. After we're back on the road, I intend to focus on the highlights in greater detail as well as to check back into good photos I might have missed.  I hope you can get a flavor of the event as well as a sense of its importance in the greater world of bluegrass music.

Seminar: Finding Answers in Today's Music Market
Brandi Hart, John Lawless, Ronnie Reno, Archie Warnek, Moderator

John Lawless

Archie Warnock

Large, Attentive, and Involved Audience

Discussions in the Hallways
Dr. Neil V. Rosenburg, Author from Newfoundland

Bluegrass Music: A History 

Dwight Worden: IBMA Board Member from San Diego

Dr. Tommy Bibey
Bluegrass Physician, Mandolinist, Novelist


Ashby Franks & Eddie Biggerstaff

Darin & Brook Aldridge at Their Booth

Ned Luberecki

Good Homegrown Music
Tom T. and Miss Dixie Hall's Booth

  Donna Hughes & Penni McDaniel

Nancy Cardwell, Pete Fisher, and Dan Hays (Executive Director IBMA)

Gabrielle Gray (Executive Director) &Dr. Richard Brown (Trustee)

International Bluegrass Museum

Opening Banquet and Official Showcases
Greg Cahill - President IBMA

Mary Tyler Daub: Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival

Eddie Stubbs, Grand Ol' Opry

Keynote Speaker
Pete Fisher - Vice President and General Manager
Grand Ol' Opry

Nancy Cardwell (IBMA Staff), Pete Fisher, and Dan Hays (Ex. Director of IBMA

Official Showcases
I'm working under a short deadline and want to get to today's events.  Therefore, I'll post quick band pictures with no commentary.  Next week, when I have a little time for reflection, I'll post commentary, add names and sidemen, and make the posts more useful with plenty of links.  Please forgive the rush.

The Hamish Brothers from Australia

Gold Heart

Spring Creek

Darin & Brooke Aldridge

 The Crowe Brothers


Josh Williams

After Hours Showcases

Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road

The Farewell Drifters 

Jerry Butler/John Wade & The Blu-J's 

More to come daily for the rest of the week and then additions to be made later.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Dare to Be Different Showcase - Bell Buckle, TN



On Sunday morning we drove south of Nashville about sixty miles, braving the interstate before turning off onto rolling country roads past horse pastures here in the heart of Tennessee Walking Horse country.  Bell Buckle is a charming little village with store front antique shops and the Bell Buckle Cafe, which also owns and operates the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall and Theater where Valerie Smith has annually hosted the "Dare to Be Different" showcase as a preliminary event to the IBMA annual convention, which opens today.  The event is held to benefit the IBMA Foundation and the Music in the Schools program.  Bands donate their performances, and the site offers an enjoyable chance to hear some bands you might not see otherwise and eat some good barbecue provided by the Cafe. 

Host Band Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike

The Soul Pickers

The Soul Pickers are primarily a gospel band from Alabama and Mississippi who offer tuneful renditions of recognizable gospel songs as well as some solid secular tunes.  Their banjo player, Weston Stewart is a multiple state contest winner, and the band is quite able.  Lead singer Buddy Mason has a strong voice.

Buddy Mason

Weston Stewart

Brett Anderton

Shane Norman

Jerry Butler/John Wade & The Blu-J's

Jerry Butler and John Wade had an idea.  "Let's do a solo project of truck songs!"  The idea has turned into a band, Jerry Butler/John Wade & The Blu-J's, a CD called "Haulin' Grass" released by Tom T. and Miss Dixie Hall's label Blue Circle Records, and a new career for Jerry fronting his own band.  On the basis of their early performance at Bell Buckle, it seems like a combination made in heaven.  Jerry has a fine lead voice and plays very good guitar. John provides a driving bass beat that just keeps on moving.  Veteran North Carolina banjo player Jim Fraley and his son Jason, on mandolin, are taking the very good work they've been doing for years in their gospel group "A Deeper Shade of Blue" to another level. And Tim Goins (the only non-J) helps build a good wall of sound with his Dobro play and acts as a humorous, although mostly silent, foil to Jerry's light humor.  The set we saw featured cuts from their CD and a good mix of classic bluegrass and country songs.  Jerry's voice is perfect for the musical choices they're making and this band has enough vocal strength to provide two distinct trios.  IBMA attendees should look for this group at various after hours showcases this week and promoters would be well advised to book them early and often.

Jerry Butler

John Wade

Jason Fraley

Jim Fraley

Tim Goins


Frances Mooney & Fontana Sunset

Frances Mooney has been around a long time and is featured in the Daughters of Bluegrass records as well as singing and playing bass in her own band. Mainly known regionally in the southeast, this north-Georgia based band deserves wider attention.

Frances Mooney

Mark Mundy

Steve Sosebee

Jimmy Ross

Ronnie Wilbanks

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike

 A return to good health for Valerie Smith, the marriage of Miss Becky Buller, and and acquisition of Ernie Evans on three instruments along with his organizational skills and energy have served to strengthen this already very fine touring band.  Val is back to top form.  Their program, including everything from straight ahead bluegrass through western swing, to something akin to Broadway show-type numbers is high energy and features quality music.  They are highly entertaining and very lively.

Valerie Smith

Becky Buller 

 Ernie Evans

Bobby Davis 

Two more bands completed the evening.  29 Strings, a bluegrass band from the Slovak Republic, did a creditable job despite their obvious nervousness playing in front of an American audience.  Their music is rendered in English and suggests strong influences from the progressive side of bluegrass.  The Rigney Family Band closed the show to much reduced audience which missed the virtuoso performances by the two young sons, both recent contest winners, who finished with a rousing duo on St. Ann's Reel. Time and space make it impossible for me to include more about these two worth bands today.

29 Strings

The Rigney Family Band

We had a long but very fulfilling day in Bell Buckle and Val Smith is to be complimented for promoting this prelude to this week's big events.  Thanks.