Welcome to my Blog. I write primarily about bluegrass music and the bluegrass experience. I also review books I read as well as offering road notes and travel entries. Come in and look around to see whether there's anything here for you. Be sure to check the archives and the labels. Please leave comments. I try to respond to all of them.
The IBMA Special Awards Luncheon is always one of the highlights of this week-long event. While music would seem to be the center of the IBMA, the conference itself is a business event at which the bluegrass industry looks at itself, tries to figure out how to help musicians make a living and become more professional at doing so. At the Luncheon, the people who provide the business and professional underpinnings crucial for creating success are recognized for their work, and a few worthy people are recognized for lifetime achievements in bluegrass. Here's a report of the festivities
Some Nominees at their Tables
Cindy and Terry Baucom
Pete and Joan Wernick
The Awards Print Media Person Eddie Dean & Dr. Ralph Stanley
Best Liner Notes Dr. Ted Olson Appalachia Music from Home
Best Graphic Design Julie Craig Dailey & Vincent Sing The Statler Brothers
Bluegrass Event of the Year
The 14th Annual Podunk Bluegrass Festival
Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year
Distinguished Achievement Awards
Steve Dilling Introduction
Sherry Boyd - Honoree
Peter Rowan - Introduction
Tex Logan - Honoree
Tom Adams Introduction
Lynn Morris - Honoree
Neil V. Rosenberg - Introduction
Richard Weize - Honoree
President of Bear Family Records
Tim O'Brien - Presenter
Pete Wernick - Honoree
Dan Hays Accepts Plaque and a Scholarship Named in his Honor
It was a fine event with lots of reminiscence, a few tears, and the joy of recognition. While many of these names are not familiar to everyone, their contributions to bluegrass music are evident and set standards for us all.
I'm way behind on trying to post. Attending IBMA - WOB is an all-consuming morning to late night experience with little of no time to consider, plan, put material together, and post. Yesterday I took our laptop to the Convention Center and never took it out of check. I'm going to try to catch up, but I expect that most of the reflection and serious attempts to make sense from this experience will emerge in the next week or so. Thanks for your patience. - Ted
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
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.
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
Gotta run. I'll continue these brief posts and then use next week to expand and extend my remarks.
Each year on the Sunday before IBMA - World of Bluegrass opens in Nashville, Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike have hosted the "Dare to Be Different Showcase" at the Bell Buckle Cafe in her home town of Bell Buckle, TN, about 50 miles south of Music City. In this friendly, informal environment, fans, media people, promoters, and friends gather for a day of music making by quite good, but not necessarily well-known bands. Highligted this year by her own band and Jerry Butler & the Blue-J's, Dare to Be Different provided a relaxed interlude before the hectic week of IBMA began. Each year Dare to Be Different donates its proceeds to a worthy cause. This year the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY are the recipients. Kitsy Kuykendall, Chairman of the Board, and Gabrielle Gray, Executive Director represented the Museum at the event.
Because this is the beginning of that hectic week for us, too, I won't be posting as many band pictures or descriptions as I might otherwise do. This pattern will continue through the week, and I'll then spend the next week filling in the holes.
Friday Night Orphan Brigade
Chicken Dinner Road
Brad Long & Friends
Jerry Butler & the Blue-J's
Jerry Butler has established a reputation for improving bands he joins because of his fine singing voice, his pleasant on-stage manner, and his quality work as an emcee. Jerry Butler & the Blue-J's has a CD out almost before they began to tour. "Haulin' Grass" is a collection of bluegrass trucking songs made with a fine group of Nashville's best bluegrass session players. Now, a little over a year after their debut, the band has had some personnel changes that have consistently improved it. The addition of veteran mandolin picker Bobby Clark has added maturity and strength. This is a band to watch.
Jerry Butler & the Blu-J's - Shorty is Forty
Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike
This is a very popular and proficient band whose range runs from bluegrass through swing to show style numbers. Valerie Smith and Becky Buller have formed the core of this band, which travels widely and performs enthusiastically. The band will be undergoing some personnel changes in the coming weeks, so keep any eye on it and this blog.
Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike "Just to Hear You Whisper Baby"