Wednesday, October 14, 2009

IBMA 2009 - Showcases - Pt. 1

A very important component of the annual International Bluegrass Music Association meetings in Nashville are the showcases.  Two kinds of showcases provide bands an opportunity to be seen by bookers, festival promoters, agents, song writers, as well as fans and other musicians.  A showcase, even if it's attended by only two or three people, may result in several un-anticipated bookings for a band, either one on the rise or ones already established.  Two kinds of showcases provide literally dozens of opportunities to see and be seen for bands.  IBMA directly showcased nineteen bands at four events, two of which were associated with meals provided as a part of the Business Conference and two others held from 8:00 until 11:00 PM as a part of the regular program.  So-called After Hours Showcases run from 11:15 PM until 2:00 AM.  This year there were 53 After Hours Showcases held during every day of the Conference except Sunday.  After Hours events are sponsored by various people, bands, and organizations like Rebel Records, Good Home Grown Music, Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, the Northern Indiana Bluegrass Association, The D.C. Bluegrass Union, and many others who spend money to rent the rooms and present a range of bands.

It's not possible for an individual adequately to cover the showcase scene.  A person seeking to attend after hours showcases, daytime meetings and seminars, private functions, banquets, and to get in some late night jamming to boot would indeed live up to the unofficial meaning of the IBMA acronym, "I've Been Mostly Awake." I'll try to present representitive bands from both official and after hours events in two posts during the next week or so.

Selected Official Showcases - Tuesday

Billy Boone Smith
Billy Boone Smith, whose bluegrass songs recorded by others can be seen here, showcased with his own band.

Marilyn Barclay Smith

Shad Cobb

Marilyn Barclay Smith, Bille Boone Smith, David Talbot

David Davis & The Warrior River Boys

David Davis

Owen Saunders

The Adam Steffey Band
Adam Steffey has long been recognized and awarded as a leading mandolin player in storied bands.  He has now recorded a fine CD and will be engaging in a limited tour with this fine all-star band.  Adam has shown himself to be a fine front man while stepping to the fore with this group.

Adam Steffey

Ron Stewart

Clay Hess

Randy Kohrs

Barry Bales

Justin Moses

Selected After Hours Showcases

There are so many after hours showcases offered each evening between 11:15 PM and 2:00 AM that it would be impossible to see them all.  We use seveal criteria and sometimes split our energies.  We like to see bands we already know and like as well as to experience new bands we've heard about.  Sometimes we split up and cover more bands while at other times we go to the same event together.  What follows is a series of pictures of what we saw and in no way represents all that was available.  Also, because we stayed in a campground a dozen miles outside town, we actually found ourselves needing to leave the Convention Center from time to time to get some sleep or eat a meal. After Hours Showcases are held in fairly small rooms where people watching are close to the bands who often wait their turn in the hallway outside, where they are very accessible.  The whole process is relaxed, informal, and fun.  Here's some of what we saw on Tuesday night.

Chris Jones and the Night Drivers

This very good band is formed of people well known to the audience who listens to Sirius/XM radio. Both Jones and Ned Luberecki are on-air personalities.  Luberecki and Jon Weisberger are also well known as members of other bands, and Jon writes liner notes and articles about bluegrass issues. Aaron Til is one of the go-to fiddle players, prominent among the good session players available in Nashville.  The band is a delight to see and hear.
Chris Jones

Ned Luberecki

Jon Weissberger

Aaron Til

Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road

Lorraine Jordan had her own showcase room for after hours showcases this year and showed her own  band as well as a number of others off to good advantage.  Her band has recently gone through some major personnel changes, and IBMA gave the new band plenty of opportunity to be seen and heard.

Lorraine Jordan and Josh Goforth

Ben Greene

Dustin Benson

Brad Hudson

Donna Ulisse and the Poor Mountain Boys

Donna Ulisse took good advantage of being a presence at IBMA this year. As a singer/songwriter in showcases, at her booth in the Exhibition Hall, or in the early morning as a member of a panel discussion, she showed herself to be a fine performer as well as an articulate and thoughtful person.  Her profile is rising for very good reasons.
Donna Ulisse and Husband Rick Stanley

Donna Ulissee

Jackson, Cordle & Salley

When Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, and Jerry Salley perform together, it's singer/songwriter on steroids. Winners of who knows how many Grammies, IBMA awards, Dove awards, and others, these three men have all succeeded in country, gospel, and bluegrass song writing and performing.  Seeing them perform together singing their own songs is pure pleasure for their audience and, obviously for them, too.

Carl Jackson

Larry Cordle

Jerry Salley

Guest Alicia Nugent with Cord

Keith Sewell

Keith Sewell's latest album, from what I heard in performance last week, is a melodic and contemplative folky/country/bluegrass collection that comes from somewhere deep inside him.  Accompanied at this showcase by Andy Leftwich on fiddle or mandolin and Byron House on bass along with his wife Wendy in a duet, his short set was a pure delight.
Andy Leftwich

Byron House

Wendy and Keith Sewell

Darin & Brooke Aldridge

Darin and Brooke Aldridge released their first CD, an all gospel album about a year ago to high praise and significant acclaim, even beyond the normal gospel fan base.  They appeared last year in an after hours showcase and were in evidence at Merlefest this year.  At IBMA 2009 they were very much in evidence, beginning with an official showcase and appearing also in several after hours events.  Their new CD, a mixed secular and gospel offering produced by Jerry Salley will be released soon.  Darin's light tenor, sounding much like Vince Gill, and Brooke's powerful singing voice meld well and are supported by a strong backup band filled with experienced pickers.  The band was very well received at IBMA and should be looked for singing at festivals throughout the southeast this spring and soon to be spreading beyond their home territory.  They'll be performing at Milton Harkey's Bluegrass First Class in February.
Darrin Aldridge

Brooke Justice Aldridge

Eddie Biggerstaff

Chris Bryant

Eddie Biggerstaff and Chris Bryant

Darin and Brooke, Eddie Biggerstaff with Jerry Salley

And so, home to bed.  IBMA is lots of fun, and many others stayed up to jam through the night. We managed to get to our trailer and fall into bed.  More coming.


  1. Billy's wife Marilyn Barclay Smith is an amazing vocalist/musician. She was trained at Julliard but in spite of that, can sing Bluegrass awfully good! ;)

    She's also an amazing person.

  2. Thanks so much, Sharon. I can always count on my readers to help me out when I miss something. Edit made. - Ted