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.
Craig Havighurst & Jon Weisberger
wearing red high tops to honor Dr. Tom Bibey
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.
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.
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.
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.