Tuesday, September 28, 2010

IBMA - WOB 2010 - Monday

The International Bluegrass Music Association is holding its annual trade show, convention, and Fan Fest in Nashville this week.  Called World of Bluegrass, the first three days of the conference provide IBMA members with an opportunity to sharpen their skills, discuss the issues confronting them in this difficult economy, hear new or changing bands present their material, meet together to mingle, chat, and exchange ideas.  Like many conventions, it offers members of all the many constituencies combining to make an industry work chances to find new and interesting ways to buy and sell their products.  The big difference between the WOB and other conferences is that the product is great American music that, while going through changes, is clear about its origins and, in many ways, faithful to its history.  Bluegrass music is the subject and the content of the WOB and that makes a whole lot of the difference.

 Dan Hays - Executive Director of IBMA

The daytime events at WOB are dominated by seminars, workshops, and labs.  I spent time at four of them on Monday, each valuable.  Managing Better Newsletters, How to Be a Better Broadcaster, How to Be A Music Success in Nine Weeks, and I Want to Teach the World to Jam each offered practical, useful, and forward looking advice to attendees.  Just a few pics will tell some of the story.

Katy Daley - 2009 IBMA Broadcaster of the Year
How to Be a Better Broadcaster

Joan Kornblith - Voice of America
 Newsletters in the 21st Century
Clair Lynch, Michael W. Hall, Betty Wheeler

I'd Like to Teach the World to Jam
Pete Wernick, Rick Saenz, Chris Saenz

Music Success in Nine Weeks
Ariel Hyatt

Opening Banquet and Keynote Address 

Incoming IBMA President: Stan Zdonik

Keynote Speaker - Sam Bush

In this centenary year of Bill Monroe's birth, the past and future of bluegrass music are the focus of a lot of thinking and soul searching. Sam Bush presented a thoughtful and forward looking speech in which he explored the ways in which his life in music had intersected with Bill Monroe's, the father of bluegrass music.  He told a range of amusing, touching, and thought-provoking stories about Monroe, emphasizing Monroe's protective attitude toward his music along with his generosity and encouragement of innovation and change.  Monroe was a musical genius and a revolutionary developer of a new genre of music.  Perhaps the most enlightening picture of Monroe involved his response to others playing like him.  After listening to someone try to play Monroe style, he would say, "That was fine, now show me something that's yours."  Sam's major point, in the end was that no one could predict where the newest and most creative innovators in the range of music called "bluegrass" would take the music, but that Monroe would have encouraged the development and recognized the best as worthy of following his lead. Sam's speech was an important contribution to the discussion of where bluegrass music is heading.

The Showcases
There are two kinds of showcases. Official showcases take place on the main stage, where, mostly in the evenings, five bands a night chosen by a committee on a variety of criteria, perform.  There's seating for hundreds of attendees, many of whom are talent buyers being given the opportunity to sample the new wares of both up-and-coming bands and those which have changed in some way or released new recordings.  Later in the evening, from 11:00 PM until 2:00 AM, dozens of After Hours Showcases, sponsored by a range of festivals, record companies, equipment manufacturers, and others, perform in small meeting rooms for the buyers,  other professionals, and fans.  Both kinds of showcases give attendees an opportunity to sample old bands they know well and new ones they've never heard.

I have to throw in a word about the main stage lighting.  It's very difficult to achieve good color values given the LED lights with their predominance of red and blue giving an unpleasant tint to photos. I'll continue to work to find a way to get good photos here, as it's the musical center of the conference, but it's very hard to do. Notice the difference in color values between Official and After Hours showcases.

Brand New Strings

The Bartley Brothers
Mojo and Neski

 Jerry Butler

Chris Jones

Gotta run.  I'll continue these brief posts and then use next week to expand and extend my remarks.