Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sixth Anniversary Post


On December 22, 2006 I started out on a journey by writing two blog entries. One was a brief essay on why I had chosen to write about bluegrass music and the other was a review of a history book by Doris Kearns Goodwin called Team of Rivals which is the source material for a current blockbuster movie called “Lincoln.” My first post had a comment put on it from a person I didn't know, the late Dr. Tom Bibey, who subsequently blessed my life as an Internet acquaintance and, later, close personal friend until his untimely death last August. He was the kind of friend a person only experiences a few times in a lifetime, and I met him on the Internet. Since that first blog entry my analytics tell me I have published 859 posts including uncounted numbers of photos, lots of opinions, and about 112 book reviews. Depending on how they're counted my site, it has been “hit” something over 600,000 times. But statistics aren't as important as the ways doing the blog and the underlying experiences it represents have enriched and widened our lives, our knowledge, and our friendships with people we didn't even know we were looking for. Today is the sixth anniversary of the beginning of this adventure,which has developed, changed, and grown us as the years have passed. Perhaps the biggest change that has occurred, is the role Irene, my wife of 48 years, has taken in so many aspects of its production. 

Let's take a look at a few statistics about Ted Lehmann's Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms. From December 2011 until today there have been 154 posts, a little less than one every 2.4 days. According to one of my hit counters, there were 137,789 page views, a decrease of about 11, 000 from last year, while Google Analytics places this year's total visits at 73,867 with page views at 108,838, a decline of about 20,000 from last year. I can't explain the decline in hits. Meanwhile, the blog was seen in 149 countries and territories. The top ten were: USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, France, Australia, the Netherlands, and India. Except for central Africa, the blog received at least one hit in most countries. There's a huge hole in the middle-East where Iran sits.

What has the content looked like? During the year I wrote previews of every event we attended and from one to four reviews of each one, depending on how large an event it is and how much content there was to cover. In events where bands performed for more than one day, I only used pictures of them once. I also wrote book reviews of twenty-six books and posted about fifteen essays on a variety of topics surrounding bluegrass. To my pleasure and surprise, these essays are read with more frequency than I thought they would be. I want to thank the California Bluegrass Association for asking me to write a monthly column on their Welcome Page. It always challenges me to look deeper. The book reviews reflect my interests in a variety of areas, although I try to get to books which have bluegrass content in them, as a part of my mission to combine attending events and thinking about the larger issues confronting bluegrass. I have several books in the pipeline which deal with such topics as new media and copyright/pirating in the digital era. Many of the books I read and review have had implications for my thinking about bluegrass music and culture. I receive many books in ebook for as Galleys from their publishers in order to review them. I'm grateful to the web sites that promote these services and the publishers who make their books available to me.

During the past year, Irene and I drove about 20,000 miles while attending nineteen bluegrass festivals, four concerts, and two other bluegrass related events. We spent one hundred and forty seven (147) nights in our trailer on the road during the year. This year we traded for a new trailer which I've shown some pictures of. We stayed at hotels and motels for nineteen nights and with friends or relatives for five. Our largest single expense on the road this year has been gasoline. We have a geezer card (National Access Card) to cut down on our expenses and have found that staying in state, national, and Corps of Engineers parks is not only less expensive, but more enjoyable than large commercial parks. We attended two new festivals to us this year, the K.D. Bass produced festival on the Seminole Indian Reservation near Lake Okeechobee in Florida called Seminole Wind and the Top of Georgia Jamboree in Dillard, GA. We'll be going back to both as we continue to seek out new events to cover and new bands to see. We're very excited about the IBMA's move the Raleigh, NC, but know that we'll miss Nashville. It's been a busy and productive year.

Although I'm a little disappointed in the loss of readership in the blog, our spread across several platforms on the Internet has certainly increased the reach of our efforts. Our YouTube channel and the three Facebook pages have meant that many people who don't necessarily read my blog can follow our travels in various ways. Both Irene and I have our own Facebook pages. We include family and friends from other elements of our lives on them, and each represents our own interests and personality. At the urging of Henri Duchamps, publisher of The Bluegrass Legacy among other Facebook entities, we started Ted andIrene's Most Excellent Bluegrass Adventure, which has grown nicely and gives us a forum to discuss areas not worthy of an entire blog entry and to keep up with various goings on in our worlds. It has attracted 2,689 Likes and, when you count these people and their friends, has a reach of over 1,000,000 people, although I don't think it ever reaches near that many. All three Facebook pages are fun, and we're enthusiastic about keeping in touch with many people we've met or who've been attracted to our interests.

From when I posted a little song by Josh Williams called “Mordecai” on my YouTube Channel in May of 2011 until the end of the year, it had been viewed by 4,572 people.. That was pretty good performance performance for one of my videos. Then on January 22, 2011, I noticed that 204,476 people had viewed it in one day! It had gone viral, and I was frightened by the numbers of comments I had received in my email. As of today, it has been viewed by 1,738,947 people and still attracts about 12,000 views a month. It has been seen in 198 countries around the world. I've been interviewed by Japanese public TV via Skype and a clip of the video has been seen on The Today Show on NBC. It has been a spectacular ride. Last month it received just short of 13,000 views, as people continue to watch. If you haven't seen it yet, here it is:

Josh Williams – Mordecai – Video

The Josh Williams “bird video” has not only been good for Josh, I hope, but has been good for our efforts, too. Irene is sharing the videography with me, and we have now uploaded 561 performance videos from the festivals we attend. Our total views have reached 2,054,495. That means, without the Josh Williams video we have had 325,548 people visit our channel. Last month 25,295 people came to see other videos. I think they get there by searching the singer or the song and discover that's there's more to see. I think it's a powerful indicator of how use of the Internet is changing and how powerful a tool YouTube has become. The biggest problem for us is not having enough bandwidth to post all the videos we take in a timely fashion.

 In September I was nominated for IBMA Print/Media Person of the Year. It was a great honor to be on the finalists list. The late Marty Godby, who wrote a biography of  J.D. Crowe, won and congratulations to her. I'll probably submit my name again next year.

To wrap it all up, we're still pleased and excited by our adventure in bluegrass, the challenges and opportunities it presents us. We love the music and the people who choose to play it, in all configurations, and are happy to be involved in even a small way. As we begin the seventh year of our blog, we want to say “Thank You” to all the people who have helped by visiting and participating with us and also to wish you


Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year
to
All our Friends
from
Ted and Irene Lehmann

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