Thursday, September 29, 2011

IBMA's World of Bluegrass - Brief Update

Attending IBMA's World of Bluegrass presents a huge challenge to Irene and me.  We try our best to cover the highlights of the meetings, the showcases, the speeches, as well as providing a sense of the vibe at this enormously stimulating event.  We start early in the morning, usually arriving at the Convention Center as shortly after 9:00 AM as we can. After Hours Showcases are scheduled to last some time after 1:30 AM.  This demanding schedule requires us to make a choice about whether to write and post photos now, or be full participants as well as active observers of the event.  Our choice has been to get as much from and put as much into World of Bluegrass as we can. Thus, little from this blog until we get a chance to reflect, consider, and absorb all that's gone on here.  The sold out Awards Show is tonight. It should be a blockbuster. IBMA's Fan Fest begins tomorrow morning. If you're within driving distance of Nashville, you won't get a better opportunity to see more top bands than at this event, as well as to attend meetings and seminars and enjoy the Exhibits. Come on out if you can.

Chris Pandolfi's Keynote Address on Tuesday - Video

Chris Pandolfi IBMA Keynote 2011 from Chris Pandolfi on Vimeo.

Craig Havighurst Interviews 
Ben Kaufmann & Dave Johnston of 
Yonder Mountain String Band
 The Gibson Brothers - Live 
on WAMU's Bluegrass

Audience for Gibson Brothers Radio Show

Newly Energized Blue Moon Rising
at Official Showcase

Gig Fair

Larry Cordle at His Best
After Hours Showcase
WSM's Eddie Stubbs Interviews
Darin & Brooke Aldridge 
Live from World of Bluegrass

In the end, IBMA is about ideas: ideas about how to build your band's visibility, ideas about how to develop your career, ideas about what's on the horizons, ideas about how the future of bluegrass will always depend upon its past, ideas about what bands would be good ones to book before they become too expensive. It's one of the most stimulating and nurturing environments I've ever encountered.  Meanwhile, the IBMA Board has gone to exceptional lengths in one year to make it easier for a person to attend without breaking the bank. Last evening, as we headed home to bed after attending an after hours showcase where Johnny & Jeanette Williams, Ronnie Bowman, Larry Cordle and others helped Jody King kick off a new band and a new luthier business, the halls were crowded and music was everywhere. More ideas.....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2011 - Monday

IBMA's World of Bluegrass kicked off its revamped 2011 convention on Monday with the crowd building all day long. The seminars were interesting, entertaining, and informative. Sessions on "Internet Broadcasting," "What Makes a Great Show?" Monroe style mandolin, and Internet Streaming, and How to Get Endorsements contained practical, useful information for musicians, talent buyers, promoters, and fans. A new kind of program called "Crowd Sourcing" broke participants into small groups to explore a variety of problems facing bluegrass. The reports of the groups at the end of the session form the initial content for working groups to continue developing approaches to many of the issues involved in spreading the word and increasing income.  WAMU's Bluegrass Country was live on-the-air with good music and enthusiastic audiences. Tune these sessions in on your computer from 4:00 - 7:00 EST each day. Tune it in here. What follows here is a series of impressions for the day with minimal comments. It's must not possible for us to attend, participate, and post detailed blog entries. Longer analyses and discussions of the event will follow over  the next few weeks. The new pricing system appears to be very popular, allowing people many choices, saving them money, and opening the doors a lot wider. Just as an aside: I hate taking pictures of people on stage wearing hats! It's almost impossible to show faces without a big shadow.  Performers can dress pretty much as they wish, as far as I'm concerned, but hats should be left in the green room.

IBMA Executive Director Dan Hays

Ronnie Reno - Keynote Address

Internet Broadcasting

What Makes a Great Show?

Bill Monroe Mandolin

Our Lunch Wagon

Crowd Sourcing Event

WAMU's Bluegrass Country
Live Interviews
Acoustic Blue

 18 South

Katy Daley - On Air

Mike Bub

Official Showcases

Each evening five bands chosen by a committee perform from the main stage with full lighting, big sound, plenty of seating around tables, and a cash bar with sofas and an area for people to mix. The bands were new to most people. For me, the blowout favorite was The Hillbenders, but the bands were distinctive and quite different.
Jett's Creek

Bluegrass Regulators

Foghorn Stringband

Rockin' Acoustic Circus

 The Hillbenders

After Hours Showcases

 A swirl of bands playing in rooms up and down the hallways for enthusiastic and discerning audiences, kids jamming in the halls (and some not so young kids), chatting, networking, enjoying the scene, good fun, and the crowd growing as people come in for the rest of the week.  
The Roys

 Jamming in the Hallway

 Judge Telford Band

The Baucoms
Rebecca Long

 Chris Jones and the Night Drivers

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dare to Be Different 2011 - Bell Buckle, TN

Valerie Smith has hosted the Dare to Be Different showcase event as a benefit for the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Ownesboro, KY for several  years in the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall.  Bell Buckle is a delightful little village west of Murfreesboro, a nice place to spend a Sunday afternoon listening to bluegrass music from a pretty full range of bluegrass bands.  A good turnout showed up as did the bands, and a good time was had.  Highlights were Acoustic Blue and Louisa Branscomb's pickup country/Americana band.  Cumberland River, having gained national attention for its backup work on FX TV's surprising hit program "Justified," kicked off the day with a set of their rough-edged, rock-tinged bluegrass.  They'll bear watching as they perform at WOB starting today as well as new appearances on TV.  Jerry Butler and the Blu-J's put in a strong evening set, and Valerie Smith closed with a strong set of many of her favorites as well as earning the only standing ovation of the day with her rendition of Jesse Colter's hear rending song "I'm Not Julie."

IBMA's World of Bluegrass annual confab in Nashville begins today. We'll be trying to provide as complete coverage as two people can manage and to post something here daily.  You should be able to find plenty of photo highlights and very little commentary as our hours during this event are from mid-morning to way into the next morning. Remember, the letters IBMA are said to mean "I've Been Mostly Awake" during this week.

Cumberland River
 Rough, hard edged, loud mountain bluegrass from the hollers of the Kentucky mountains near Harlen. A band to watch.

Dustin Middleton
Joey Jones
Jamie Stewart

 Jamie Dean
The Rigney Family

 Family band with kids who are good pickers.

Grant Rigney
Andrew Rigney
Melissa Rigney
Mark Rigney

Acoustic Blue
 Standout New England band looking to step up and deserving attention. Cory Zinc is a powerful baritone singer and the band offers strong original song writing and an excellent choice of covers. Look for this band in showcases at WOB as well as with their new CD "Timeless."

T. Shaun Batho

 Bear Aker
Cory Zink

Larry Neu

Louisa Branscomb

Singer/Songwriter/Picker Louisa Branscomb brought a pickup band along with her and sent out an excellent bluegrass-country set filled with good singing of excellent songs. Louisa's nominated work is multi-nominated for IBMA awards and she'll be much in evidence at various song writing events.

Louisa Branscomb
Nan Murphy
Bob Knysz
Sharon Hale
Joe Zauner
Donna Coleman

 Tom Brantly & Missionary Ridge

 Tim Nixon

Claire Bradshaw
Tom Brantley
Connie Brantley

Kyle Brantley

The McReynolds Tradition

Mark Newton & Leah Needham

Jerry Butler & the Blu-J's

Jerry Butler's very good and under-recognized band continues to offer good value and entertainment.

Jerry Butler

 Tim Goins
Dennis Cash (sub)

Derek Vagan

 Jeff Wright
Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike

Exhausted from the two day trip that took her from Bell Buckle to Buena Vista, VA to Illinoise and back to Bell Buckle, Val Smith still hosted the event and then came on stage at 8:00 PM and lit it up. Always a consumate entertainer, her work, playing off and with the superb Becky Buller and with a strong band in support provided a fine ending to a good day.
Valerie Smith

Becky Buller

Sterling Passat
Val & Brian Bostic

Becky & Jon Weisberger
Stephen Mougin and son (?)

Val Smith & Bill Warren (wide awake)