~ International Bluegrass Music Association 2009 ~
Our keynote speaker this year was Pete Fisher, Vice President and General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry. After Greg Cahill & Mary Doud’s welcome, and Eddy Stubbs’ introduction Mr. Fisher launched into a talk about how important “Branding” is to our music. Wow ~ where the “h” are we when we need a lecture on how to "brand" our music! Among his pearls of wisdom were observations like, “balancing preservation with innovation”, and “don’t let tradition be your trap”. Boy, am I out of step with contemporary thinking in today’s bluegrass community. I guess I’m upset with the whole notion that “marketing” the music is more important than playing it! Due to the high decibel output of the sound system (as bad as last year), we elected to skip the evening’s showcase performances. However, “every cloud has a silver lining” ~ on our way back to our room we stumbled onto Bob Carlin jamming with a couple other guys. He was playing the new Gold Tone “Cello-Banjo”, originally used in turn-of–the–century banjo orchestras ~ one of the instruments I planned to evaluate for our store inventory while at this year's IBMA Trade Show. What a stroke of luck to have Bob give us a personal demonstration of what you can do with this instrument. After a good night's sleep, a hot shower and a leisurely breakfast, we paid our annual visit to the Ryman Auditorium, "The Mother Church of Country Music". We bought some post cards to send to family & friends and a neat souvenir Ryman Auditorium Money clip for Albert. Tuesday afternoon was spent at the Exposition Hall visiting with some of our primary suppliers including: C.F.Martin Guitars, Deering Banjos, Lawson Peets & "Rowdy Pickers", and Saga Musical Instruments. The high point of our day was, however, the "Pickin' On All-Star Jam" , sponsored by The New England Bluegrass Coalition, featuring: Alan Bibey, Terry Baucom, Dale Ann Bradley, Mike Bub, Michael Cleveland, Steve Gulley, Phil Leadbetter, Missy Raines, Tim Stafford, Josh Williams, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Rob Ickes, and our own Kim Fox! It doesn't get much better than this! Wednesday morning we attended the IBMA 2009 Showcase Brunch sponsored by Tom & Dixie Hall, Rural Rhythm Records, and the California Bluegrass Association. The featured groups included: Darren Beachley & Legends of the Potomac, G2 Bluegrass Band from Europe, and Audie Blaylock & Redline. Nice mix from the more progressive grass to the "solid" traditional. Audie always blows my socks off! After lunch we went over to Gruhn Guitars to check out his inventory of vintage banjos. Albert found a 1921 Parmount "C", rosewood 5-String banjo that he would love to own. George wanted $5,000.00 for it. Not a totally unfair price, however, we were only willing to go to $4,000.00. George countered with $4,750.00 with a new HSC. We had to pass. The rest of the day was spent back on the floor at the Exhibit Hall. Had a good time with Lawson Peets of "Rowdy Pickers", ordering some of the new accessories including some of his exclusive guitar picks, some serious new Osborne Traditional Banjo Heads, a whole bunch of the new Fzone Chromatic Mini Clip-On Tuners, the new "Ultimate String Cleaning Tool" that you may have seen advertised in better Guitar magazines, and a nice selection of new instructional books & DVDs. Also, had a very pleasant visit with Tanya Ogsbury from Ome Banjos. We have been dealing with Chuck Ogsbury since 1960! He is one of our favorite banjo builders of all time, and we try to keep at least 3 or 4 different Ome models in stock. The 2009 Special Awards Luncheon was held in the Renaissance Hotel Ballroom on Thursday, October 1st. We were thrilled to see the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival receive the Bluegrass Event of The Year Award. We are so proud of all the work that Mary Doud, Lisa Husted, and the whole crew have done over the years to produce one of the most successful festivals in the northeast! A well deserved award ~ Congratulations to The Grey Fox team! Thursdsay afternoon it was back to the Exhibit Hall. We ran into Nick Barr at the Elderly Booth ~ also saw the world's ugliest banjo. We renewed our annual organizational International Bluegrass Music Museum membership at their booth, and then spent some time at First Quality Music. Their new bluegrass tone ring they are using in the Sullivan Banjos is impressive. Caught Tanya Ogsbury hanging out with the guys from First Quality. Over at the Homespun booth Tony Trischka was doing a book signing. Bill Keith stopped by to visit with Tony followed by a whole bunch of fans. And finally, Albert filled out a raffle ticket for a full page ad in BU at the Bluegrass Unlimited booth. We attended the 20th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards celebration at the historic Ryman Auditorium Thursday evening. The Ryman was the perfect venue!
Friday morning we packed up, departed Nashville for another year, and headed off to St. Simons Island, Georgia and points south for some time off.