Live from IBMA - October 2, 2007
Hello from beautiful downtown Nashville Tennessee where the weather is perfect and the streets are alive with bluegrass fans! IBMA here in Nashville is a wonderful thing, I think, and I'm enjoying every single moment.
As I've been sitting here in the lounge on the first floor by the Starbuck's counter and just in front of the five elevators that take folks up to about 25 floors of beautiful hotel accommodations, I've had visits with Roland White, Casey Henry, Larry Perkins, Sally Jones, Kathy Chiavola and probably a bunch more I can't think of right now. Folks are on their way down to the Exhibition Hall.
If you've never been to IBMA you're really missing out on a wonderful event. There are great jam sessions all around the halls and rooms and there are seminars on all sorts of topics relevant to bluegrass. On Wednesday I am doing mentoring sessions on Bluegrass Photography and there are loads of other mentoring sessions going on in the same room. Of course Thursday is all about the Award Show out at the big Opry House (I wish it were still at the Ryman Auditorium...the Opry House just doesn't have any charm at all and yes I have been to both)....seems like bluegrass BELONGS at the Ryman. But I can't argue with the fact that the facilities are much larger and better at the Opry House - or the fact that they can seat a whole lot more folks in the audience (which translates to lots of $$$).
Worked yesterday at the registration desk and I just love being a volunteer. It's not really like work at all....seems like just about everyone who walks up to the counter to get their badge and Bluegrass Unlimited backpack happens to be someone I know from a band or a festival or somewhere just down the road. It's fantastic. The hours flew by (with a break for dinner and a fine keynote address by Tony Trischka following by several "official" showcase bands) and soon it was time to go to the After Hours Showcases which run from about 11 pm until 2 am. You have to have some endurance to survive all the amazing activities at IBMA. I'm worn out already I confess but I'm going to keep on keepin' on.
From my seat here in the lounge I can hear several jams around the lobby - I think jamming is allowed on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors plus a few other floors, but I'll confess that I don't know the ins and outs of that situation.
Heard a great set by Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass who never seem to deliver anything short of a power-packed set of great old time bluegrass music. Heard the lovely sisters "Gold Heart" doing sets at two or three different locations last night, and the Steel Drivers were winning fans (and promoters) with their wonderful brand of acoustic music (great to hear Tammy Rogers playing that fiddle "like a man" and to hear her WONDERFUl vocals). There was so much more but really my brain is just about scrambled at this point.
Later on, after the last late night showcase had concluded I came across my old friend Akira Otsuka teaching some mandolin to a young man up on the 2nd floor. And Dave Evans was holding court around the corner with folks like Paul Kovac playing banjo and Larry Perkins sitting on a tall barstool taking it all in. Down in the convention center I'd been amused by the antics of Arnold from the Netherlands (Hillbilly Boogiemen) and the Davidson Brothers from Australia and a crazy guy named Sean from northern Ireland and James Faris, too....they were being as fun and silly as people who have gathered together to drink a few beers and share a lot of laughs with friends around the world can be.
Anyway, I need to go and get together some photographs and head down to the trade show now so I'm going to pass this computer on to someone else who might want to use it. If I have a chance again I'll write more but allow me to say that I think the IBMA in Nashville is a WONDERFUL thing - don't knock it till you've tried it.