Friday, January 17, 2014

Bluegrass Today Events Directory Redesigned

Bluegrass Today, the newspaper for the bluegrass world has revamped its Events Directory creating an invaluable resource for promoters, bands, events organizers and, perhaps most important, bluegrass consumers. Whether you use this calendar and the interactive map associated with it to let the bluegrass audience know where and when your event is or for seeking bluegrass events near where you are, this service will provide useful and necessary information about where to go, what to do, and what's available.  Participation in the system for presenters and attenders could help people find events and organize their schedule. Bands could discover and interact with bluegrass programming venues en route between anchor festivals. At present, the map is not highly populated with events or business listings. Nevertheless it looks extremely promising. I can't tell whether the map is time sensitive or what the horizons might be. Nevertheless, the possibilities of this resource are tremendous.

Screen Shot of Interactive Map
Icons on the map represent events, bands, radio broadcasters, and stores or other outlets. The + and - button permits users to zoom in and then move around the map.

Screen Shot of Events Listings

 For instance, The Rivertown Bluegrass Society in Conway, SC (a few miles west of Myrtle Beach) holds monthly meetings during the winter which feature a couple of bluegrass bands, jamming, and good fellowship, as well as other events during the year. We have tried to get to their meetings and report on them when we are in the area. By registering and updating from time to time, they can achieve a much higher level of visibility than they do now through their web site. As social media become increasingly widespread and diffused, a service like this, which is focused on serving the bluegrass community can become a major resource. Because it is on a web site that is easily available and well-known, it can easily spread the word more widely in order to enhance attendance and sales. There are organizations like Rivertown all over the country. The Boston Bluegrass Union sponsors many events in the Boston area while The Next Stage does so in Putney, Vermont. Scott Freeman and Willard Gayheart regularly hold small performances at the Front Porch Gallery in in Woodlawn, VA, near Galax  while Candi Sawyer, promoter of the Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival in Tunbridge, VT, also holds open mic sessions at the Weston Rod & Gun Club  regularly through the winter. All these events can register and spread the word For Free at the Bluegrass Today Event Calendar.

We like to build our schedule about six months in advance in order to assure, for instance, that we can find camping spots in crowded markets like winter Florida. We plan on being in Raleigh, NC for a week in early April. Many venues don't schedule their events as far ahead as we'd like to have them, but what a huge resource it would be for us, if music venues in the Raleigh area would put themselves on this map, and then fill in events as they schedule them. Local people probably know about an open jam or a club in Raleigh, but travelers don't. We often see queries on various forums asking for information about jams. Imagine what a rich resource it would be if we could zoom into the map of the Raleigh area, identify events by their icons, and plan to attend.

Screen Shot of Zoom Nashville Area

For us, making this map interactive for time as well as place would make it an absolutely required place to visit as we plan our travel and then look for additional events in the area. We're excited about the potential of this new feature that Bluegrass Today has added to its site and look forward eagerly to bands, events, and venues taking the time to register and start creating venue listings and to keeping their entries up to date.