Monday, October 6, 2008

IBMA Fan Fest - Saturday

IBMA Fan Fest turned out to be a great bluegrass festival. Held indoors in the Nashville Convention Center, the venue featured what felt like miles of fairly comfortable seats, a vast stage, excellent sound and lighting, and one of the best lineups anywhere. Outside the performance area there was plenty of space for musicians to set up their merchandise tables as well as other vendors. The exhibition area, directly behind the performance area was separated by a wall so neither area interefered with the other. The exhibitions were, if anything, more extensive during Fan Fest than during the business conference and attracted good crowds all day long. One promoter commented that she'd prefer the Fan Fest to be held outdoors, but at this time of year, despite the fact that nearly perfect weather prevailed this year, an outside festival begins to become chancy. Bundling the IBMA business conference attracting huge numbers of musicians with a fan oriented music festival benefitting the Bluegrass Trust Fund, which assists bluegrass professionals in times of need and the IBMA for use in promotion of bluegrass music. makes perfect sense. A few days of great music held indoors doesn't inconvenience anyone. Before I start the pictures, I'd like to thank Carl Jackson for making it possible for me to work back stage and for his huge generosity of spirit as Fan Fest progressed. Good photographs emerge from great access, and Carl most kindly provided it. I'll have a separate blog entry about Carl sometime in the near future.

G2 - Swedish Bluegrass Group

Carrie Hassler

Carl Jackson & Carrie Hassler

Audie Blaylock & Redline
Tim Shelton of New Found Road

Jaret Carter of the Circuit Riders

Darin Aldridge of the Circuit Riders

Special Consensus

Ashby Frank of Special Consensus

Greg Cahill of Special Consensus
IBMA President

Special Consensus & Carl Jackson

Melonie Cannon & Alicia Nugent

Michael Martin Murphey

Michael Martin Murphey

Carol Young of the Greencards

The Greencards

Williams & Clark Expeditions with Carl Jackson
Ralph Stanley II

Ronnie Bowman
Donica Christensen of Ronnie Bowman and Sugar Hill Records

Ronnie Bowman

Darrin Vincent & Jamie Dailey

Dailey & Vincent

Jeff Parker of Dailey & Vincent

Ronnie Bowman & Carl Jackson

Carl Jackson Receives Award from Dan Hayes, IBMA Exec. Dir.
Vince Gill
Vince Gill

Vince Gill

Carl Jackson & Vince Gill
Vince Gill w/Jarrod & Tyler Walker

Terry Baucom
Bradley Walker
Bradley Walker

Bradley Walker Band with Carl Jackson

Kathy Mattea

Lonesome River Band

Brandon Rickman of LRB

Sammy Shelor - LRB

I would have liked to put pictures of every band and every performer at Fan Fest on this blog, but there were just too many good bands. The IBMA conference and Fan Fest have left me with much to think and write about concerning our music. Over the next few weeks I'll have more to say about why IBMA is important to fans of bluegrass music as well as musicians. I'll also be writing a good deal about the importance for bands and promoters to gear up to work and live in this new world of high technology and tough, competitive world in a declining economy. But for now, enjoy the pictures, and let me hear some of your responses, either on the comment section here or on the forums.


  1. Once again--a great bunch of photos Ted. And this time my favorite goes to Sammy Shelor. He looks "wowsville". This band has been roasted for their dress but I've got to say--the shirt is sharp and the Sam-man is hot! Just MHO.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Like others, Ted, I've appreciated both the pictures and the comments which have helped us to vicariously enjoy Nashville and the IBMA festivities. Your closing comments made me do some thinking and ask some questions.

    I suppose it centers around the apprehension that the bluegrass world will not be able to continue walking the thin line between commercial popularity and its deep anti-cultural roots. The pictures you've posted, for instance, show a glitzy bluegrass far removed from what most of us understand its genius to be.

    As one who grew up on country music in West Virginia and who loved its earthy sounds, the rhinestones (too lazy to spell check!) and trivial lyrics turned me off.

    Don't get me wrong: I'm not against bluegrass evolving, and I've nothing against drums and neckties and WWW usage and other peripheral issues. They're sort of the "lapel pin flags" of bluegrass, perhaps! Let's continue to try new ways to express the old truths of bluegrass, but do it without sacrificing its soul.

    That's the issue, it seems to me, facing bluegrass, and that's what forums such as this one have the potential to become. Thanks for your contributions.

  3. Bob - I take your point, but don't confuse the background with the music. At Fan Fest, the stage set was bright and well hung, with lots of lights. The bands, many of them, were the same as we see from week to week on the bluegrass circuit. Because Fan Fest was held in Nashville and produced by mega-singer/songwriter Carl Jackson, it may have included a few people we don't ordinarily see. However, Vince Gill threw down a pure bluegrass set that would happily grace any festival. It shouldn't be held against him that he actually can make a living in country music...well, maybe more than just a living. Kathy Mattea's set of songs from her albu, "Coal" may not have been bluegrass, but it was deeply affecting for the audience. Mostly, what set Fan Fest aside from the usual run of the mill bluegrass setting was solid performances from one end to the other. - Ted

  4. Just to echo what Bob says above.. What is it that we're seeing in the IBMA event that makes us feel like...."Let's continue to try new ways to express the old truths of bluegrass, but do it without sacrificing its soul." I've said and felt something similar to that affect also. It is as if something is being extracted from the music that shouldn't be.


  5. were you stalking Carl Jackson, or was he stalking you?

    enjoyed the photos Ted, IBMA is the "black tie" weekend for BG, sort of like homecoming or the prom.


  6. were you stalking Carl Jackson, or was he stalking you?

    enjoyed the photos Ted, IBMA is the "black tie" weekend for BG, sort of like homecoming or the prom.