Tuesday, October 2, 2012

IBMA W of B 2012 - Business Conference

The IBMA World of Bluegrass Business Conference ran from noon on Monday until noon on Thursday, three days packed with learning, networking, listening to and playing music, and contemplating the past, present, and future of bluegrass music. From the Keynote Address by Missy Raines and Chris Jones early on Monday afternoon until the Town Hall Meeting late on Thursday morning before the Special Awards Luncheon, members of IBMA spent uncounted hours exploring how to build their careers, strengthen their connections to each other, and become more effective in pursuit of their chosen profession. By moving many of the artist-focused seminars to the afternoon, the program committee increased the chances that artists, who keep hours unknown to the rest of us, could attend sessions aimed at them. The range of subject matter and the opportunities to spend time together were limitless for people wishing to engage in such activities. Meanwhile, the performances continued as the bluegrass world was introduced to many new faces.

IBMA Board Meeting

The IBMA Board of Directors met early on Monday morning, in an event always open to members, to discuss the current status of the organization and to begin intensive planning sessions for IBMA as its World of Bluegrass moves to Raleigh, NC next year's five day conference.

Craig Havighurst & Jon Weisberger

Executive Director Nancy Cardwell

Board Members Convene

The Keynote Address

Missy Raines and Chris Jones presented the Keynote Address for this year's World of Bluegrass. After a humorous introduction suggesting an alternative world in which IBMA would meet in the desert to save money, they explored with deep insight the need for bluegrass music and IBMA to embrace change as a constant in order to build, enrich, enlarge, and strengthen the music we love so much. By including video clips with comments from pioneering innovators Mac Wiseman, Sonny Osborne, Doyle Lawson, and Eddie Adcock, they punctuated the truth that great artists are on the cutting edge of change while needing, at the same time, to establish an individuality that makes earning a living possible.  Because of the fact that bluegrass is a unique genre in which many fans are also performers, they pointed out the lag between change and general practice as well as the presence of a cutting edge within the genre.

Missy Raines & Chris Jones

 Missy Raines, IBMA President Stan Zdonik, Chris Jones

David Morris of Bluegrass Today
wearing red high tops to honor Dr. Tom Bibey

WAMU's Bluegrass Country Live Showcases
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen

WAMU's Bluegrass Country held five days of live three hours programs originating in a studio established in a meeting room just across from the main performance room of the World of Bluegrass. On each day a rotating crew of hosts showcased new and older, well-known and emerging bands live on-air before enthusiastic audiences in an always crowded room for half hour performances.

 Ronnie Reno

Katy Daley hosts

Special Event - Slidegrass Extravaganza - Monday
Tribute to Uncle Josh Graves

Before the official showcases on Monday through Wednesday, a series of special tributes were offered. Featuring artists in some way associated with the person being honored, these tributes were both moving and exciting musical performances. Our musical history is of prime importance to our musical present, informing all elements of what we do now and will do in the future. IBMA distinguishes itself by never forgetting its heritage or denying the roots from which it comes.

Tim Graves

Chad Graves

Mark Lavengood
Professional Development Session
The Doc Watson Hour

At 10:30 on Tuesday a large meeting room over-filled to hear musicians reminisce about their experiences with the late Doc Watson, named on Thursday as Guitar Player of the Year, but certainly guitar player for the era. Bryon Sutton, Ricky Skaggs, Jack Lawrence, Buddy Greene and Chris Jones backed by Missy Raines on bass, told stories and played songs associated with Doc that generated nostalgia, cheers, and tears.

 Jack Lawrence

Bryon Sutton

Ricky Skaggs

 Buddy Green

Song Circles

In addition to a new Special Award for Songwriter of the Year, there were numerous opportunities for songwriters to share their work, discuss the art of song writing, and pitch their wares. The World of Bluegrass offers a rare opportunity for songwriters, bands, recording companies, and other interested people to interact and work.

Mark "Brink" Brinkman

 Louisa Branscomb

 Along with the myriad of events scheduled in the Convention Center, a large number of off-site events were sponsored by agents, recording companies, and instrument manufacturers in venues along Broadway (only a couple of blocks away from the Convention Center, during the afternoon and evenings. These events often featured clients and artists who are big attractions on the festival circuit, on recordings, and in other venues. Their presence during these times tended to suck the energy out of the Convention hall by drawing attendees away. In previous years, these events were held on-site. I have a hunch that next year in Raleigh these events will become officially scheduled events, made possible by the proximity of available venues and re-design of the basic World of Bluegrass model. Keep an eye out for all this as plans progress. 

IBMA Momentum Awards
Craig Havighurst Introduces the Awards

 A new set of awards dubbed "The Momentum Awards" has been established to recognize either emerging artists at the beginning of their careers or those who work to mentor and develop their talent. Suggested and motivated by Echo Propp and Henri Deschamps, these awards are designed to encourage innovation and career building.

Mike Drudge presents Mentor Award
to Mike Bub

Echo Propp 

Matthew Munsey Recieves Band Momentum Award
from Jon Weisberger

Momentum Award Winners
Mike Bub, Christian Ward, Emilee Warner
and Alex Hargreaves
with Henri Deschamps 

Special Event - Tribute to Hazel Dickens

 When Hazel Dickens died this year she left a huge body of accomplishments in song writing, performance, social activism, and film. A fittingly large and varied group of artists sang her songs and talked about her career in this tribute to here.

 Laurie Lewis & Claire Lynch

Kathy Mattea

James King & Dudley Connell

Alison Krauss

Grand Finale

Official Showcases
23 Strings Band

Over three days in four settings, twenty bands were "officially" showcased. Chosen from many applicants, many of these bands are not widely known, while others have made major personnel changes or have had a recent project released.  Showcases offer the bands an opportunity to be heard by many talent buyers, recording companies, or broadcasters in order to widen their exposure. This year several international bands performed, and there seemed to be an explosion of string band music.

Special Consensus

Greg Cahill

American Drive

Jim Hurst

 I Draw Slow from Ireland

Louise Holden of I Draw Slow

Della Mae

Gary Nichols of The SteelDrivers
Town Hall Meeting with the Board
Stan Zdonik - President

Each year, the last major scheduled event of the Business Conference is a Town Hall Meeting during which the Board reports to the membership and holds an open forum to discuss questions from the membership. A highlight of this year's meeting was a report on the successful audit of IBMA by an independent auditor who found a clean bill of health while recommending various strategies to keep it that way. There were many questions about the move to Raleigh, also. 

 Carl Jackson

Danny Clark

 William Lewis

Rienk Jannsen

Dwight Worden

Cindy Baucom
Craig Havighurst

 Ron Cox

Dan Keen

Jeremy Garrett

Executive Director - Nancy Cardwell

Craig Ferguson

 There were so many activities scheduled and unscheduled going on during the week of World of Bluegrass that individual meetings and events often seemed sparsely attended yet individual accounts of people's experiences suggest that the week was most satisfying to many. On occassions like the two awards shows, the showcase breakfast, and the Hazel Dickens tribute, crowds assembled, but often the multiplicity of options would lead one to believe attendance was small. While registration was not, apparently, huge, business was being conducted, bands were being showcased, and lots of people had lots of fun.

Awards Coming