Sunday, August 31, 2014

The 7th Woman by Frédérique Molay - Book Review

The 7th Woman by Frédérique Molay translated from French by Ann Trager (Le French Book, 249 Pages, $16.95/$9.95) is a gripping police procedural with huge and successful elements of sheer terror built in as the plot races along to a not clearly seen, yet satisfying ending. Nico Sirsky is the Head of the Paris Criminal Investigation Division, referred to as le Crim throughout the book, an elite corps of high quality detectives supported by crack teams of specialists in a range of disciplines. As with any novel dealing with French government, understanding and learning to think within a vast and complex bureaucracy is part of the early challenge and fun of this book. As the story opens, Nico is visiting a physician for some pain in his stomach he has been experience, but on first impression is is overwhelmed by the beauty of Dr. Caroline Dalry, who examines him and prescribes further tests. On leaving Dalry's office, he receives a call from one of his subordinates informing him of the gruesome murder of a young woman.

Sirsky joins his team at a posh Paris apartment where to victim has been killed in a particularly brutal and obviously ritualistic fashion. Sirsky intuits a possible serial killer. Meanwhile, his life is complicated by conflicts with his ex-wife, the needs he feels to be fair in the shared custody of their son, as well as a prying sister intent on finding the right woman for him. His life is not made any easier by his growing awareness of his interest in Dr. Dalry. On Tuesday a second murder occurs, and on Wednesday still another, with each one beginning to suggest some personal vendetta aimed directly at Sirsky himself. He and his team work feverishly to solve the mystery as the murders continue and the noose tightens. To much explication would ruin the fun in this story. Suffice it to say that Molay succeeds in creating the kind of tension that, for me, becomes almost unbearable in a good crime thriller. The exquisite tension forces to to put the book down from time to time to give myself a break, while I'm also ineluctably drawn toward getting on with coming events driving toward a thrilling conclusion. Molay successfully drops successive clues to the reader while never tipping her hand completely. It don't get much better than that!

Frédérique Molay

Writing has always been a passion for Frédérique Molay, author of the international bestseller The 7th Woman. She graduated from France's prestigious Science Po and began her career in politics and the French administration. She worked as Chief of Staff for the Deputy Mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and then was elected to the local government in Saône-et-Loire. Meanwhile, she spent her nights pursing a passion for writing she had nourished since she wrote her first novel at the age of eleven. After The 7th Woman took France by storm, Frédérique Molay dedicated her life to writing and raising her three children. She has five books to her name, with three in the Chief Inspector Nico Sirsky series and a fourth on the way. The 7th Woman, first published in French in 2007, is the first in The Paris Homicide Series with another episode, Crossing the Line, scheduled for release later in September.

Books in translation are often problematic, leaving the question, “Whose book is this?” Here's what Ann Trager says about her work, “I love France so much I have lived there for 26 years, and just can’t seem to leave. It’s not the baguettes that keep me there (I'm sans gluten), but a uniquely French mix of pleasure seeking and creativity. Well, that and the wine. All that time, I had been working in translation, publishing and communications. Then, in 2011, I woke up one morning and said, “I just can’t stand it anymore. There are way too many good books being written in France not reaching a broader audience.” That’s when I founded Le French Book to translate some of those books into English. The company’s motto is “If we love it, we translate it,” and I love crime fiction and thriller “ While I don't read French, I suspect that Trager manages well to maintain a French aura while translating into rapid-paced, colloquial English.

The 7th Woman by Frédérique Molay translated from French by Ann Trager (Le French Book, 249 Pages, $16.95/$9.95) is a fast-paced police procedural with plenty of tension and significant sub-plots. First published in France seven years ago, it is the first of a forthcoming series subtitled The Paris Homicide Series. It has a distinctly French sensibility to it, which increases, for me, its establishment of an independent identity among crime fiction titles. I look forward to reading the next episode. The 7th Woman was provided to me by the publisher through Edelweiss. I read it on my Kindle.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival - September 18 - 20, Kodak, TN - Preview

Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival runs from September 18 - 20 in Kodak, TN on a former dairy farm converted to a full service campground and event center by promoter/owners Joe and Mitzi Soward. The site is conveniently located just north of the East Tennessee resort towns of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, offering unparalleled access to entertainment, resort discount shopping, fine food. The beautiful Smokey Mountains and Smokey Mountain National Park are visible on the horizon. There's a Cracker Barrel Restaurant and a Bass Pro Shop store within a couple of miles. We try to get to the Lodge Cast Iron Cookware and the Coleman Outlet every time we come to Dumplin Valley. Oh,,,Did I mention there's also a great bluegrass festival at Dumplin Valley? Well, take a look at the lineup and facilities, and make up your mind.

Morning Jam by the Silos

The Lineup
 The Little Roy & Lizzy Show

Little Roy Lewis has been performing on bluegrass and gospel music stages for over sixty years, first with the Bluegrass Hall of Fame band "The Lewis Family" and now with his protege, multi-instrumentalist Lizzy Long. His brand if humor hearkens back to vaudeville and the very early days of live television. Their presentation is deeply traditional and still relevant with thousands of people relishing hearing and seeing them,

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice 

Junior Sisk was named IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year in 2013. His long suit is his impassioned championing of traditional bluegrass, particularly as practiced by the Stanley Brothers, but he also introduces lots of new material which only sounds old. His tenor voice is one of the best, and he's often under-rated as a rhythm guitarist. He's added strength and youth to the instrumental side of his band, Jason Davis is one of the finest banjo players around. Jason Tomlin has announced that he's leaving the band to join a project with his brother, but I don't know if that will have happened by the time of Dumplin Valley.
Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier

Jimbo Whaley, one of the founding members of Pine Mountain Railroad, is a perfect example of the kind of fine national quality performer who has forsaken the road to remain closer to his family and pursue more steady sources of income. Kipper Stitt, Roger Helton, and Matt Leadbetter are standouts in this better than good local band, which continues to work regularly in the Pigeon Forge area. 

Adkins & Loudermilk - New to Dumplin Valley
Dave Adkins

We had seen Adkins & Loudermilk in abbreviated sets and without their complete band, but a few weeks ago we saw the whole band through two complete sets....Wow! I had expressed concerns about these two very different artists in personality and style being able to find an approach that effectively melded their strengths, but it's happening. Flatpicker Andrew Crawford and Dobro man Glen Crain contribute significantly. Combine this with Adkin's big voice and enthusiasm and Loudermilk's thoughtul songwriting and deep experience, and you get a band that's rapidly developing into the first ranks.

Edgar Loudermilk

Cordle, Jackson & Salley  

Winners of Grammy, IBMA, and Dove awards, Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson, and Jerry Salley bring literally hundred of familiar bluegrass, country, and gospel songs they've written or co-written to the stage along with impeccable musicianship and enthusiasm in presenting them. Often accompanied by Val Storey, one of finest singers on the Nashville scene, this group has been performing with some other accomplished Nashville studio musicians at the Station Inn every Monday as the "Classic Country" band New Monday. This repeat performance at Dumplin Valley will be a real treat.

Audience Under Cover in the Barn

 Volume Five - Glen Harrell - New to Dumplin Valley

Volume Five is one of those bands that's been toiling in the wilderness as it builds its fan base and creates a distinctive sound and style. Their work has paid off with a 2014 IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year nomination, which is richly deserved, as well as Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year. The band's cover of Shawn Camp's "That's Not the Grandpa That I Know" is superb. They perform a strong mix of original material and suitable covers in both gospel and secular music. This Mississippi-based band, most of whose members originate in Georgia, will be well worth your hearing.

Donna Ulisse & The Poor Mountain Boys

Donna Ulisse is a talented singer/songwriter with her feet firmly planted in both bluegrass and country music. Her wonderful voice and sparkling personality combine with her thoughtful songwriting to tell compelling and often inspiring stories of her love of the mountains, her faith, and her thoughts on life and loving. Reliable and truly personable, Donna is a nominated for IBMA Gospel Performance of the Year this year. 

James King 

James King has been encountering health problems recently, which have caused the partial dissolution of what I thought was the best band I ever heard him have,  Nevertheless, his voice can still wind itself around a song, drawing raw emotion from tales of love and loss. Since he's playing on the same day as Rhonda Vincent, we can all hope they will sing a song together. That always results in a kind of special magic. Despite the difficulties that life throws at James, one can only wish him well as he regains his health and maintains the magic of his ability to tell magical stories in song.

Balsam Range  

Balsam Range comes from just across the Smokey Mountains in the extremely rural Haywood County, NC. Over the past seven years the band has produced five notable recordings, while building a large and expanding fan base. This has culminated this year in IBMA nominations for Instrumental Group of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year as well as a nomination as Male Vocalist of the year for fiddler Buddy Melton.  The band's repertoire includes carefully chosen songs adapted from rock, folk, and gospel as well as bluegrass tunes of unusual depth. With four singers, they are varied vocally as well as instrumentally. Balsam Range has emerged onto the national scene while carefully building its brand of highly recognizable material. 

Buddy Melton

Rhonda Vincent & The Rage 

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage are a welcome fixture at Dumplin Valley. She always brings her A game with her, although it's hard to find her off her game. With her latest CD "Only Me," six songs on each of two disks, half country and half bluegrass and all quality, Rhonda has been adding increasing amounts of country music into her bluegrass performances just as bluegrass audiences are acknowledging their hunger for "real" country. Son-in-Law Brent Burke on Dobro has added to the versatility of her superb band, and Josh Williams voice and guitar are always welcome. Rhonda is nominated for IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, and award she has won seven times.  Some years we see Rhonda quite frequently, but this year, despite her usual busy schedule, we haven't been quite so lucky, so we're looking forward to seeing her band at Dumplin Valley.

The Campground

The Bankesters - Emily, Alysha, Melissa - New to Dumplin Valley

During the past couple of years it's been a delight to watch the Bankesters continue to develop into what has become an excellent band. The voices of the three sisters (Melissa, Alysha, and Emily) have matured (and continue to do so) as they have learned to take maximum advantage of their sibling sound. Emily's singing of  "When I'm Gone (The Cup Song)" is a standout. With their parents Dorene and Phil, who both add vocal versatility to the group, and Melissa's husband Kyle Triplet on banjo and mandolin, this band is truly stepping up.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge  

We've been fans and friends of Darin & Brooke since before they were married as they developed a vocal sound, a style, and a lovely union. Growing together out of their love for each other and their faith, they have formed and continue to develop a fruitful and always developing band. Darin is a creative musical explorer, never afraid to seek out and develop a new twist to a traditionally based but thoroughly inventive style. Brooke is blessed with one of the most recognizable voices in bluegrass, her voice is uniquely her own with depth and timbre and extraordinary volume. Darin blends his light baritone voice well with Brooke's, and his guitar playing is always strong. On the mandolin, however, he belongs at the top with the current greats. Darin & Brooke are nominated for Gospel Recorded Song and their CD "Flying" is nominated for Best Graphic Design.

The Spinney Brothers 

The Spinney Brothers have worked hard and campaigned throughout North America for the past several years as they've expanded their presence and influence outwards from the native Nova Scotia. This year, their efforts are being rewarded with IBMA nominations for Emerging Artist of the Year and Song of the Year with Mark Brinkman's "Grandpa's Way of Life." I can't find another international band so honored. The Spinney's are another bluegrass band either helping create or capitalizing on the close cousin's relationship between bluegrass and country music. Allen's clear, solid baritone voice works very well in either genre. Terry Poirier on bass has been a welcome addition to the band.

Sideline - New to Dumplin Valley

Sideline developed out of a group trying to fill down-time in their individual schedules. It has proven, however, to be more popular and in demand than they anticipated. This has led to several changes, the latest being Darrell Webb's decision to leave the band to devote more time and energy to his own band, which is showing huge improvement itself. On the other hand, Skip Cherryholmes has decided to resign from Lou Reid & Carolina to devote more time to Sideline, which may be the best cover band in the business right now. It remains to be seen whether they'll be introducing more original material in their mix. Regardless, Steve Dilling is an amusing and engaging band emcee, while Jason Moore and Greg Luck are strong, too. You'll enjoy Sideline.

Steve Dilling

Lonesome River Band 

The Lonesome River Band is simply one of the best closing bands in all bluegrass. Familiar as much of their material is, the band is as good as ever, perhaps better, at delivering it. Sammy Shelor is at the top of his game, the band's singing and playing are terrific. They deliver!

The Details

Tickets: The time limit for getting a pre-season discount on tickets has passed. For information on tickets or to order them, go here. Tickets now are $30 a day or $85 for the whole festival. Bluegrass is a huge bargain.

Camping and Other Lodging - Usually by this time, all water and electric sites have been rented, but there usually is some space available for rough camping. Call 865-397-7942 for further information or email at Since this is a major resort area, there are many lodging choices. You can get further information from the Sevierville Area Chamber of Commerce.   

Jamming - Jamming is encouraged at Dumplin Valley and a jam can be found in the campground at almost any time. Take a look around.

Vendors: There are always a number of food and craft vendors available. This year there will be an ice cream vendor and one offering fried pies, a southern delicacy. There's always barbecue and foods as well as craft vendors and instrument supplies.

Johnny Adams & Lamar Moss 

In the Pavilion Early in the Week

Johnny Adams


W.a and Rhonda Pate's Hospitality Tent & Jam

How to Get to Dumplin Valley
on the map below put your address in the space marked o
and get a custom map

See You There!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Outlaws of the Atlantic by Marcus Rediker - Book Review

Outlaws of the Atlantic: Sailors,Pirates, and Motley Crews in the Age of Sail by Marcus Rediker (Beacon Press, August 2014, 248 pages, $26.95/14.55) is a carefully written and meticulously documented history of how the social revolution of the past four centuries was fomented from below decks by sailors of all kinds. Perhaps disturbingly for some, it turns history as most of us are used to seeing it on its head by crediting the democratic and independent move towards revolution and freedom as originating and being powered from below. Those of us used to “great man” or “great events” views of history will find this book to be disorienting at first, However, as Rediker compiles his evidence that the sea was the ultimate source of freedom from the restraints of conventional hierarchy and lawfulness, and that the discovery of this grew from the treatment of the men (mostly) who plied the waves, the picture of the forces of freedom and independence coming from below makes increasing sense. At times the book seems to jump around in time, as Rediker selects incidents and actors in his drama of human discovery, but the ideas become increasingly palatable, if not self-evident, as the narrative runs its course.

Many of us have bought whole hog the story of the power and benevolent spread of civilization by dint of the spread of British sea power. The use of impressment, that is, the virtual legal kidnapping of farmers, fisherman, and workers of the streets and away from the farms of England to provide fodder for the crews of the British naval fleet from the seventeenth through the nineteenth century, has been mostly seen as a necessary evil. Either ignored or misunderstood, are the land-based riots and the ship's revolts by those forced into service at low pay under extremely harsh and dangerous conditions by both naval and commercial ventures. Riots undertaken largely by lowly workers in seaports and on board ships were greatly feared by ship's masters and municipal authorities, whose power was augmented by local and naval sanction.

Outlaws of the Atlantic presents the “golden age of piracy” (roughly the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) as a manifestation of indentured and impressed workers asserting their rights and escaping into the arms of pirates and privateers, independent businessmen plying the seas. In my earlier review of Gregory Flemming's At the Point of a Cutlass I saw the works of pirates as being both violent and coercive. Rediker's persuasive view presents membership on a pirate ship as, often, the work of independent men working cooperatively in an at least partially democratic setting. In this scenario, pirate chiefs could only make decisions with the consent of their crew, and could be removed if they were seen as being too autocratic. Such autonomy and cooperation was extraordinarily threatening to the governments and business interests of both Britain and America. The vision of Motley Crew as a group of men at see or in revolt on land as an organic international group of mixed race, circumstance, and background provided me with a new meaning I had never considered for this term.

Rediker is perhaps at his most stomach churning in his account of the slave trade, turning the rather prosaic pictures of slaves tightly stacked below decks on the middle passage to the Caribbean and the America's into a live, flesh and blood testimony documenting the torture and murder of nearly helpless victims, many of whom willingly went silently to their deaths than submit to removal from their home, separation from their families, and enslavement far from home. Whipping, laceration, starvation, and beheading come to have meaning when applied to real people's suffering and death to maintain or achieve freedom. His graphic descriptions, by chapter's end, prove to have the desired effect,

This important history culminates with a complex and nuanced view of the capture by enslaved men from West Africa of the ship Armistad and their later trial in the U.S. In which John Quincy Addams mocked the court for suggesting the slaves had stolen from the owners of the ship by liberating themselves. He frames this trial, as he does the issue of piracy as the interests of the quest for money and freedom vs. the property rights of the upper class establishment, the same issues continuing to face this country.

Marcus Rediker

According to Wikipedia, “Marcus Rediker (born 1951 in Owensboro, Kentucky) is an American professor, historian, writer, and activist for a variety of peace and social justice causes. He graduated with a B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1976 and attended the University of Pennsylvania for graduate study, earning an M.A. and Ph.D. in history. He taught at Georgetown University from 1982 to 1994, lived in Moscow for a year (1984-5), and is currently Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History and chair of the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh."

I found Outlaws of the Atlantic:Sailors, Pirates, and Motley Crews in the Age of Sail by Marcus Rediker (Beacon Press, August 2014, 248 pages, $26.95/14.55) both interesting and persuasive despite its decidedly left leaning perspective. The book is heavily annotated while remaining readable. At times Rediker departs from a purely chronological sequencing to place important elements together, thus risking becoming repetitive at times. Regardless, Outlaws of the Atlantic presents a thought provoking and substantial argument for many of our freedom's emanating from the struggles of working men at sea rather than detached intellectual members of the elite. I read the book in an electronic galley provided by the publisher through Edelweiss on my Kindle.

Monday, August 25, 2014

How to Negotiate IBMA World of Bluegrass 2014 - Preview & Guide

Sir Walter Raleigh Welcomes Bluegrass

The International Bluegrass Music Association will present its annual World of Bluegrass event from September 30 - October 4, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. All events take place within a six or seven block radius of the Raleigh Convention Center, a modern, comfortable, and accessible facility including the two official convention hotels, the Marriott and the Sheraton, and the Duke Energy Center. The six clubs within easy walking distance are accessible by the new direct connection "Bluegrass Express" which will run between the front of the Convention Center and the clubs. Wide Open Bluegrass, the final two days of World of Bluegrass will be held in the outdoor  Red Hat Amphitheater, the Convention Center, and the Clubs. A free street fair on Fayettville Street from the hotels towards the State Capitol offering music, vendors, food, and many enjoyable activities,  plus free access to the Exhibit Hall in the Convention Center and all non-ticketed activities associated with World of Bluegrass will run for two days.. It's all pretty complicated and, in order to get the most out of your experience, this blog is designed to make it more accessible, suggest some highlights, look at some alternatives, and help you plan your week. I urge early registration, especially for musicians, to allow taking part in some activities, such as the redesigned Gig Fair. While reserved seats at the Red Hat Amphitheater and prime seats for the Awards show are already sold out, plenty of seats still remain. The two main convention hotels are fully booked, but keep an eye on out for cancellations and on the forum IBMA-L and other sources for tickets or rooms that might become available. Below you will find explanations, links, and maps that should help you make sense of it all. You can use this blog entry and the IBMA web site in conjunction to make it all more manageable. Soon the two smart phone apps will be updated to make navigating it all and scheduling yourself even more easy. You can bookmark the schedule on your smart phone by clicking  the address:

State Fairgrounds Camping

Camping Facilities: Many bluegrass fans are also RVers. Last year we stayed at the campground on the State Fairgrounds, only about seven miles and fifteen minutes from the Convention Center. With full hookups, this campground is utilitarian, but comfortable, safe, and convenient. It costs $25.00/night. For more information look here and book soon.

 Nearby Showers & Restrooms

Raleigh Convention Center

The area around the Raleigh Convention Center, the two major hotels, and other locations associated with World of Bluegrass is relatively small and easily negotiated. Here's a map with a link to a full map that can be downloaded and printed. Brief study will help you get oriented. Note the many convenient parking garages. Last year's price for a full day in garages around the Convention Center of $7.00 has been retained.

Business Conference
Opening Reception 

IBMA Board Chairman Jon Weisberger Opens the 2013 WoB

Noam Pikelny Delivers Keynote Address
Béla Fleck This Year

Musicians should remember that performing in showcases is not an example of Pay for Play. Rather, each showcase participation represents an opportunity for bands to be seen by talent buyers in a position to make hiring decisions and many fans from around the country and the world who are often able and willing to make requests of promoters and talent buying committees who make crucial hiring decisions. However, merely being seen at the World of Bluegrass is not sufficient. The onus for increasing the number of gigs you work depends on careful and focused follow up and persistent effort. There are almost uncountable opportunities to network with those in the position to make decisions about hiring and promoting your efforts. Follow up with all contacts by email, phone call, and mail (yes, mail still exists) to assure that the face and personality you've projected at World of Bluegrass becomes firmly fixed in those people's memory and musical imagination.

Fans will find the business conference to be not only interesting and a feast for meeting and getting to know performers and the other people making up the components of the bluegrass industry, but a wonderful place to become more knowledgeable about the finer points of the practice and larger world of bluegrass music and business.

Notice of Seminar Beside Door

IBMA has made it much easier to PLAN your experience. The schedule for all events at the Business Conference is available now. So is an app you can download to your computer and to your smart phone. During the next three weeks, you can take a little time during your busy days to look at the entire schedule and construct a schedule for yourself. As you do so, however, remember to leave plenty of time for meeting, greeting, and networking. Over Use the schedules on the web site and through your smart phone. Link your calendar to the posted schedule to organize the band leader's time, and to involve other members of your band as a team reaching out to connect, network, and learn new strategies. I understand the need for musicians to get together and make music. There's plenty of that at World of Bluegrass, but my best advice to professionals seeking to increase their income is, as much as possible, to leave your instruments in their cases and attend workshops, seminars, Gig Fair, taping sessions and more, with an intent to increase your outreach and management skills. Do you want to take a European tour, consider hiring professional management, work with a booking agent, book your band into new venues, and make further professional advances? WoB is designed for you to have an impact, but you need to step forward and make the effort, it will not merely be handed to you. Just appearing at official and unofficial showcases won't prove to be of much help without consistent and focused follow-up.

The Schedule: The World of Bluegrass is a large convention with a variety of activities and emphases. In the past, attendees were given a printed schedule and had to work through it carefully to make decisions about how best to use their time. This year the IBMA staff has done much of the work by providing a well structured and cross referenced schedule which can be manipulated and searched on line or on your smart phone in either iOS or Android formats. For instance, if you want to know where a band is appearing you can go to the "bands" block and click on a band. Let's use The Grass Cats as an example. The Grass Cats will appear in Convention Center on Tuesday at 7:00 on the Workshop Stage. They also will appear on Wednesday at the Longview Center at 10:00 and Tir Na-Nog at 1:00 AM. Every band I checked has at least three showcases, with one in the Convention Center. Let's say you went to the Longview Center last year and found it a very pleasant place to listen to music. Click on Venues and the Vintage Church at Longview Center to learn that seven bands will be there on each night from 7:00 PM until 1:30 AM. It looks to me as if every band with an official showcase can be seen at either the Ballroom Stage or the Workshop Stage in the Convention Center on Tuesday or Wednesday and on the Ramble Stages at other times if you prefer going out to the Ramble Venues for a legal libation with your music. The IBMA staff has clearly listened to the concerns of attendees and worked hard to give people what they want.

The schedule comes in four formats (screen shots below not live):



Study the expanded schedule carefully to see what skills are being addressed at individual sessions and who the resource people are. This year's sessions at WoB are structured to be more interactive, to answer your questions as well as to provide information. Whether it's producing your own record, learning to live life on the road as a female musician, negotiating contracts and riders, learning more about health care and financial planning, managing risk through event insurance, making better videos, or dozens of other topics of relevance to you as a buyer, seller, or manager of talent, there are workshops and seminars where you can improve your knowledge and hone your skills. You won't be able to take full advantage of these unless you study the schedule carefully and PLAN.



Hover over the word "Schedule" on your device and then click on your choice of schedule for your particular need. By exploring the schedule in this way, you should be able to get a good handle on all that's happening before constructing a schedule on your phone or calendar.

Search Function

The convenient search function appearing on the "Schedule" page and available on all other Business Conference main pages makes the schedule easily searchable. The color coding is also a very useful feature. This is an incredibly powerful tool which will make your entire experience at World of Bluegrass more convenient and efficient.

Transportation to the Remote Venues: A dedicated bus called the Bluegrass Express will run from 4:30 PM until 2:45 AM each night from in front of the Convention Center to the Bluegrass Ramble locations. You don't have to walk to be able to Ramble.

Talent Buyer Focus: Much has been accomplished to create a specific focus on placing talent buyers in contact with performers, agents, and managers to increase opportunities assuring that networking between these constituencies will result in more gigs being actively pursued as a result. To explore this focus further, check here. It's extremely important for all parties to follow up on initial or ongoing connections made at these events with a mail appeal, a press kit, and one or more phone calls. Make sure the people in a position to buy your talent have a solid, accurate impression of you and your music.

Talent Buyers Opportunities

At the "Agents Pitch Session" agents will be given a 3-5 minute chance to introduce themselves to buyers and potential clients, describing their services and current client list. The "Agents & Managers B2B Expo" (Wednesday and Thursday only) allows agents and managers to network without fan engagement in a special exhibit space. The Gig Fair has been completely revamped and online registration will eliminate the early morning waiting in line. Gig Fair registration closes September 22. Register for World of Bluegrass and sign up for the Gig Fair NOW! The Exhibit Hall appears larger than ever and will be open from Wednesday through Saturday, free to the public during Wide Open Bluegrass. The "Pitching Event for Talent Buyers" is focused on first time attendees and will examine many of the opportunities offered by the bluegrass world. There will also be a hospitality room available and an evening reception. For further information, check it all out here.

Town Hall Sessions: This year, two Town Hall sessions are being held by the IBMA Board. They are on the schedule for 9:00 AM on Friday and Saturday mornings, providing time for attendees to meet with the IBMA Board to discuss concerns and suggest alternatives. This meeting when little else is happening is your best opportunity to be heard by the Board.

The Bluegrass Ramble, a component of the Business Conference in cooperation with the City of Raleigh and the local organizing committee,  is the way in which the Official Showcase bands can be seen and heard. Each band will appear at least once in the Raleigh Convention Center and two other times in the Ramble venues around town. Here's a list of the venues with a link to each one. They are within walking distance of the Convention Center and hotels, and dedicated transportation to the remote venues will be provided until 2:00 AM  Below are the venues:

The Steel Wheels in the Lincoln Theater

Red Wine (Italy) at the Pour House

The decision to schedule Official Showcase Bands through the Convention Center as well as into the clubs and bars was made in response to the differing needs and desires of attendees. Since Official Showcases are designed to place bands before talent buyers in situations where the buyers can assess the suitability and desirability of bands for their venue or event, many buyers thought that a quieter and more concentrated setting would be preferable. Other buyers and attendees like the club atmosphere and didn't mind the slight inconvenience of getting to them. The new organization of the showcase schedule looks like a win/win for all, including people not wishing to buy full business conference tickets who can purchase armbands at the door of each club or a Ramble ticket without attending the rest of the business conference. A full ticket for the Bluegrass Ramble costs $60 for members and $75 for non-members, providing access to all showcases. The clubs will also be showcasing North Carolina Bands during the Awards show, offering an attractive alternative. Opportunities to showcase during Wide Open Bluegrass are still being developed and rolled out, continue to watch here and on the IBMA Web Site  and my FB Page as World of Bluegrass approaches.

Della Mae Dropped in on the IBMA Youth Band Practice

The IBMA Exhibit Hall will be open for four days after Tuesday's build-in. Wednesday and Thursday will be available for those ticketed for the Business Conference only. During Wide Open Bluegrass the Exhibit Hall will be open to everyone. All showcasing bands are provided with space for a booth, and exhibitors display all kinds of instruments and gear. The Exhibit Hall is also a lively location for networking.

To sum up, the Business Conference offers unparalleled opportunities for every element of the bluegrass community to come together to learn, grow, develop new skills, demonstrate their capability, and reach out to each other. However, to meet these goals requires planning, commitment to one's own development, and work. But that's why it's called a Business Conference.

The Awards Show
The Auditorium

Entertainer of the Year 2013
The Gibson Brothers

The Moment When Grown Men Cried
Tony Rice Speaks

Located in the magnificent Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at the Duke Energy Center just a block or so from the Convention Center and the two main convention hotels (The Marriott and the Sheraton) this 2323 seat auditorium is Raleigh's premier performing venue, with unobstructed seating and fine acoustics. It's just the place for IBMA to present its most watched and anticipated event, the annual Awards Show. Performance awards are presented in seventeen categories. These awards are selected in a three-stage nomination and voting process participated in by the professional members of IBMA. Induction into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame takes place during the Awards Show. This year the original Seldom Scene and bluegrass author Neil Rosenberg will be inducted. With nominees selected by committees of the membership, another six awards in industry categories  are awarded at the Annual Awards Luncheon . In addition several Distinguished Achievement Awards are given. Performances by many of the nominees are featured during the Awards Show and sufficient fodder for discussion and argument will persist until the next year's nomination process begins.

On the Red Carpet

Jean and Del McCoury

Graham Sharpe & Marty Raybon

During the Awards show a little noted and intriguing event will be taking place out in the remote venues. Called Bluegrass Ramble Local Grass on the schedule sidebar, this convenient and inexpensive alternative features a rich variety of North Carolina bands performing. There will be a couple of national NC bands like Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road and Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa as well as fine bands less well known nationally but very well known among those who are knowledgeable about bluegrass in North Carolina. Bands like Al Batten & the Bluegrass Reunion, Grass Street, and Constant Change will be playing. If you're not going to the Awards show, Local Grass represents an attractive alternative.

Wide Open Bluegrass
Della Mae at the Red Hat Amphitheater

The StreetFest - Looking Down Fayetteville Street

Wide Open Bluegrass, once known as Fan Fest, is both a ticketed all-star bluegrass festival and a partially overlapping Street Festival promoted by IBMA and the City of Raleigh under the auspices of the Local Organizing Committee. Wide Open Bluegrass performances taking place in the Red Hat Amphitheater and The Grand Ballroom of the Raleigh Convention Center are ticketed, presenting many of the biggest stars in bluegrass, winners of IBMA awards, and "pickup" jam bands composed of bluegrass music's most visible artists. Proceeds of the Wide Open Bluegrass ticket sales go to The Bluegrass Trust Fund. The music ranges from traditional bluegrass (Hot Rize, The James King Band, The Lonesome River Band, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, The Del McCoury Band, The Larry Stevenson Band) through progressive bluegrass (Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Sam Bush, The Deadly Gentlemen) to bluegrass derived jam bands (Younder Mountain String Band). There appears to be something for everyone, with the emphasis on traditional sounding and contemporary bluegrass bands. There doesn't seem to me to be a great swing toward fringe music on either the traditional or the extreme modern ends of the spectrum. The Schedule for Wide Open Bluegrass can be found here. On both Friday and Saturday evenings on the Workshop Stage in the Convention Center there will be a presentation called Roots & Branches from 10:00 PM until 2:00 AM which is sponsored and still in the planning stages. Watch for updates here and on the IBMA web site.

StreetFest 2014

 The  StreetFest is a free event. Five bluegrass stages are located on Fayetteville Street running from behind the Marriott Hotel towards the state capitol. The Main Stage is located in City Plaza, where many national bands and the IBMA Youth Band will be performing. The full schedule to the Street Fest offers great bands up and down Fayetteville Street on Friday and Saturday. Most of the same bands featured in the ticketed portions of Wide Open Bluegrass can also be seen during the StreetFest. People attending Wide Open Bluegrass on Friday and Saturday who didn't get Red Hat tickets can still give themselves a priceless experience.

Last year, thousands of people thronged the streets, many hearing bluegrass music for the first time. I've been hearing stories about people who have become fans and started attending other events as a result of the Street Fair. The North Carolina Whole Hog Barbecue will be held again this year in the parking lot between the Marriott Hotel and the Duke Energy Center. Stroll through the array of barbecue competition setups and then go to the booth along Fayetteville Street where the results are sold as a fund raiser for local food pantries. The Exhibit Hall within the Convention Center will be open with no admission being charged during the StreetFest.  The Workshop Stage, in the hallway outside the Exhibit Hall, will feature performances and discussions related to bluegrass.

The Main Stage in City Plaza

Four Banjo Greats on the Workshop Stage
Raleigh Convention Center

Joe Dean (Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver) Watching Jens Kruger

The Workshop Stage

In the Exhibit Hall

Taking a Banjo for a Test Drive

For real gluttons for punishment, Wide Open Bluegrass Late Night will run from 10:00 PM until 2:00 AM each night, including Saturday in the featured clubs. These events will be individually sponsored. I don't know about ticketing yet. At this point, I don't see competing events to the schedule for Wide Open Bluegrass during the times when those events are scheduled in the main performance areas.

IBMA's World of Bluegrass is the premier event of the bluegrass year. Last year's move from Nashville to Raleigh was a resounding success. In terms of attendance, regional economic impact, and resulting increases in new and returning membership, it set records. As with any first year effort or major change, there were glitches and problems. Attendees were polled and listened to by both the Board and IBMA staff. The result is that many of the issues were addressed and solutions to the problems found, many suggested by those who were there. Opportunities for further development and adaptation will surely arise this year, but attendees can be assured that both IBMA and the Raleigh Convention Bureau are intent on your having a good time and learning a lot. Join IBMA Now to take advantage of discount still available to members and then Buy Tickets for the entire World of Bluegrass or pick from those components meeting your needs. See you there!