It’s been a couple of weeks since the International Bluegrass Music convention has ended, and my ears are still ringing from a week of great music. There’s just too much to write about, so I’m going to let my photos do the talking. Here was my IBMA week in pictures, in quasi-chronological order:
Bottom line: it was a great week, packed with opportunities to hear new music, meet new people, and learn about facets of the music business that I had never thought about before. I represent NCPR as a bluegrass broadcaster – and dozens of us come to Raleigh from all over the world. I hope to be writing a wrap-up of this conference for many years to come, as it’s a real humdinger for a small town radio host like me. Just to cover a little larger scope of the week, I’m also including excerpts from posts written for NCPR by other conference participants – with very different points of view.
Here’s a blog post from songwriter and performer Joe Newberry, after Day 1 of the IBMA conference:
from Joe Newberry: … “It has been a fun first day of the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass. Spoke on a panel, hung with friends, played music, with more planned tonight… A good day at the office.” As a Raleigh resident, I always love it when IBMA is in town. I get to see old friends, and make new friends, plus I get to sleep in my own bed – a luxury for a traveling musician.
I started off the day speaking, along with James Reams and Daniel Routh, on a panel titled “How to Book Yourself Without An Agent.” We had a good turnout of folks, ranging from musicians who are just starting to play professionally, all the way to seasoned pros who were looking to brainstorm other ways to chase booking. What an honor to be on the dais with James and Daniel. Right after the panel, I got the chance to catch up with Raymond McClain and his talented bluegrass students from Morehead State University. University. When I see youngsters like that, I am not a bit worried about our musical future.
After a lunchtime meeting with Janet Kenworthy of the Rooster’s Wife, a wonderful venue in Aberdeen, N.C., I wandered back over to the Raleigh Convention Center to watch the lines of attendees grow. Standing in the foyer of the Convention Center, Mike Bub and I talked about being the semi-official greeters – and wondered if there was a future for us at Walmart.
The first tunes of the business conference for me were with my good pal Patrick Sauber, who is in town to play with Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands, as well as John Jorgenson. Patrick and I got to catch up musically, and it was great to hear him play mandolin on some Bill Monroe pieces. Patrick is one of those young men who could play a doorway if you strung a wire across it. His father, Tom Sauber was also in town. Tom is a wonderful fiddler and banjo player who has played for many years with pioneering female bluegrass artist Alice Gerrard.
At 4 p.m., the tribe gathered for refreshments, a bite to eat, and then settled in to hear the keynote address of the conference, given by Marian Leighton Levy, Rounder Records Co-Founder. Marian will be inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame during this year’s IBMA Awards Show. Following the keynote speech I sat and visited with Chris Luquette, Mike Munford, and Ira Gitlin.
After a quick trip home for supper, I returned to downtown Raleigh for an evening jam session with Greg Cahill, Dr. Richard Brown, Mike Bub, Celia Millington-Wyckoff, Louisa Branscomb, Karen Smedley, and a number of other pickers. After about five or six rounds of, “Okay, last song,” we finally put our instruments in the cases and headed off to bed.
There were many wonderful moments in the day, but perhaps my favorite came when Ira Gitlin shared a story of how Bluegrass music was described in a 1980 article in his Swarthmore College paper, “The universal themes of love and death are augmented by songs about strip mining, truck driving, and crop failure.” Is it any wonder why I will be back for more tomorrow at the 2016 IBMA World of Bluegrass?—Joe Newberry
…and this World Of Bluegrass Festival wrap-up, from Jamie Katz, from the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music (The WOB festival immediately follows the IBMA business conference. The festival takes place on the streets of downtown Raleigh, and is free and open to the public):
From Jamie Katz: This was Raleigh’s fourth year hosting the IBMA’s annual World of Bluegrass events, including the signature PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass festival, formerly known as Fan Fest. IBMA works closely with a local organizing committee, of which I am a member, based in Raleigh to create an event that shares bluegrass with the general public while continuing to raise funds via the ticketed main stage of Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater for the Bluegrass Trust Fund, which helps bluegrass music professionals in times of emergency need.
I work for a Raleigh-based non-profit music organization called PineCone-the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music (pinecone.org). It has been our honor and privilege to work with IBMA as part of the local organizing committee and the festival producer since IBMA moved the World of Bluegrass to Raleigh in 2013.
One of the most interesting sessions I got to attend during the business conference was “Bluegrass Belongs to Us All: Creating an Inclusive Environment at Your Event, Gig, and in Your Career.” There were discussions about religion, ethnicity, gender, nationality, and more. Understanding just a little bit more about how an individual’s background and identity can impact their experiences in bluegrass was enlightening; I would have appreciated more time with some of the facilitators to learn even more about their experiences, and I look forward to IBMA continuing this conversation in future years.
Some of the components of this year’s festival that I was most proud of the local organizing committee for implementing had to do with accessibility. We ran a pilot program this year to provide sighted guides for people who were blind or low vision who wanted to attend the festival but were unable to do so without assistance. On the Monday evening before the festival, we held a training for sighted guides, led by Claire Hakin, a local orientation and mobility specialist who works with people who are blind or low vision for a living, and also with input from John and Sandy DeLuca, PineCone members who have attended the festival for years and who have blindness or low vision themselves. We also set up an accessible drop off and pick up area, and had areas in front of the stages designated as accessible seating, because it’s no fun to be sitting down behind a lot of people standing up in front of you!
Save the dates for next year’s festival – Friday and Saturday, Sept. 29 and 30, in downtown Raleigh – we look forward to sharing some amazing bluegrass music with you, wherever you are from and whatever your background may be. —– Jamie Katz, Pinecone.org.
There you have it. It was a real treat to go, and it’s really great to be back home at a public radio station that’s appreciated by so many great listeners. Thanks always, for tuning in. See you on the radio! -Barb