The Gig Fair is held on Wednesday afternoon and gives artists a chance to make a face-to-face connection with promoters who they usually communicate by phone or email. Gig Fair is like speed dating for bands. I'm told by promoters that it's bad form to interrupt someone else's appointment "to just drop of a promo packet," but it's a good idea to carry a well produced performance packet with you, and then follow up Gig Fair interviews with both a phone call and emails. Don't expect to get gigs at the Gig Fair, but be sure to follow up assiduously.
The popular DJ taping sessions have been replaced by a DJ & Artists Reception, a meet and greet, on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30. A new DJ/Press room (quiet) has been established in room 207 of the Convention Hall where DJ's can make appointments with artists to record interviews and those all important station ID announcements "starring" bluegrass artists. Sounds like a good idea, since the DJ taping sessions were something of a zoo.
WAMU Live on-air Showcases
Showcases, Official and After Hours, are, for many attendees, the highlight of each World of Bluegrass. Eighteen bands have been invited by a committee to showcase for the entire convention. On Monday - Wednesday evenings from 7:15 to 9:45 and on Wednesday morning at the Artist Showcase Brunch, each band has twenty-five minutes to show its stuff. Some are scheduled for afternoon and early evening. These bands are chosen because the are relatively new or, if they are established bands, because they have significant new material or personnel changes. Often these showcases will be the first introduction to the larger bluegrass world these bands have had and as such are particularly valuable for bookers seeking new bands and members who want to keep in touch with what's on the bluegrass horizon. At least one international band is usually included. Some of these bands seem later to sink into obscurity while others rise to fame and popularity.
After Hours Showcases aren't "after hours" at all, they're just late at night, earning the sobriquet that "IBMAstands for 'I've been mostly awake." Offered during the hours from 10:00 PM - 1:30 AM, the after hours showcases generally feature five bands and are sponsored by recording companies, regional bluegrass associations, manufacturers, or others wishing to give bands an opportunity to showcase. They represent a fine chance for talent buyers, recording industry execs, fans, and other musicians to see bands which have chosen or been invited to showcase. Even individual bands may rent a room and offer themselves or a group of bands for showcases. These events are always fun with people wandering from showcase to showcase to see particular bands and gathering in the hallways to network (read schmooz or chat), meet and greet, or visit.
Some of the features making World of Bluegrass exciting are the proliferation of unscheduled events, jams, and private parties. Suites where promoters, associations, and festivals invite bands to showcase privately are peppered throughout the non-quiet floors of the hotel. Record companies hold invitation only receptions. Getting into these events is usually by invitation, but if you get one, be sure to show up and get a feel for some of these events. Jams can be found throughout the hotel and convention center in designated areas. The hotel reserves some floors as quiet floors, but otherwise...just look around. I remember being on the elevator one time when the door slid open on some floor where I saw Mike Cleveland joyfully playing in the foyer with a bunch of other people and a crowd of spectators. In other places you'll see kids jamming together with well-known professionals sometimes joining them. The days of drunks coming in off the street to party and jam are gone for good, but there's plenty of unscheduled music during World of Bluegrass Week.
A word of caution is appropriate here. If you attend IBMA, you're going to spend a significant amount of money for registration and hotel fees. If you showcase, you're going to be spending even more. Musicians are musicians because they love to play and make music together. Bluegrass is a participatory music. Spend some time thinking about what your goals for IBMA's World of Bluegrass week are. If you're there to grow your career, don't use all your energy jamming all night and then expect to benefit from all the week has to offer.
|Rates are Per Person||IBMA Members||Non-Members|
|Full Attendee Early-Bird (7 day) (pre 8/1)||$325||$425|
|Full Attendee (7 day) (after 8/1)||$375||$475|
|Single Day Early-Bird (pre 8/1)||$100||$135|
|Single Day (after 8/1)||$115||$150|
|Advance (pre 9/8)||$140||$160|
Individual tickets may be purchased for the Award Show and for Fan Fest, but the full attendance ticket price is still the most attractive tickets for those planning to be in Nashville for IBMA for the entire week.
This year, Distinguished Achievement Awards will be given to the following people.
Nevertheless, the signature event remains the Award Show, broadcast worldwide live over Sirius/XM radio, blogged live by Bluegrass Today, and the subject of commentary and controversy for months before and after the actual award ceremony on the various web sites and forums devoted to individual instruments and bluegrass music. Bands, individuals, and recordings receiving IBMA Awards may get significant bumps in bookings, sales, and air-play. There's no question, that it's an honor to win such an award, or even to be nominated, and it's a good show fraught with rising tension as the announcements approach. A complete list of all nominees for IBMA Awards can be seen here. Winners are selected by the professional membership of IBMA in a three stage process overseen by an accounting organization. The choices are the subject of joyful controversy and commentary ranging from adulation to disparagement. The Ryman comes close to selling out for this event, which provides lots of good fun. The Awards Show is a ticketed event.
|Rates are Per Person||IBMA Members||Non-Members|
|Three Day Reserved Seat* (until Sold Out)||$130||$145|
|Three Day Advance (general admission) (pre 8/1)||$70||$85|
|Three Day Advance (pre 9/8)||$80||$90|
|Three Day – At Gate||$95||$95|
|Under 16 (w/ adult)||FREE||FREE|
Conclusions: I've been informally polling participating bands and individual musicians for several years now. I hear a good deal of grousing from some musicians that IBMA events held in Owensboro and Louisville were much more fun, filled with jamming and excitement. Others who were there characterize events there as out of control drinking and carousing by people who came in from the streets to join the jammers without any controls or direction. I'll leave it to others to judge which description is more accurate. Meanwhile, bands I've spoken with, whether they're well-established or emerging, tell me that when they use World of Bluegrass as part of a well-coordinated campaign to raise their visibility, widen their range, and get more bookings, it seems to them to be a worthwhile investment. This is particularly true when they coordinate their efforts as a band to learn new approaches from others in the profession and associated industries to increase their skills in emerging areas. In a sense it's like this blog. I can't point to specific sales of CD's or purchases of tickets that have been directly generated by appearing here. All I can say is that promoters and artists seem to think my writing and photographs benefit them. Similarly, good bands seem to move up the ladder when they invest not just money, but themselves in making IBMA part of total program of advancement.