Foundation and board members were pleased to see many of you online last week, at the first ever virtual World of Bluegrass events hosted by IBMA. Though nothing takes the place of face-to-face interaction and enjoyment of live music, participants were thrilled to discover how intuitive the online procedure was and truly enjoyed the opportunity to experience the IBMA Business Conference, Bluegrass Ramble artist showcases, the IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards, and the IBMA Bluegrass LIVE! Powered by PNC festival.

For many unable to travel to Raleigh in recent years, it was a welcome opportunity to discover new music and celebrate our legends, as well as enjoy a variety of professional development and storytelling sessions, and visit a virtual exhibit hall. IBMA made the decision to forego an in-person event in Raleigh, North Carolina due to concerns about COVID-19 and state regulations regarding large gatherings.

The pandemic has created challenges for schools nationwide, including the universities with bluegrass degree programs and bands who travel to showcase at World of Bluegrass each fall. We were pleased to offer video showcases from the following fine student groups on October 2, 2020:

  • BJUgrass, from Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC, directed by Steve Pettit
  • Denison University Bluegrass Ensemble, from Granville, OH, directed by Adam Schlenker
  • East Tennessee State University Bluegrass Pride Band, from Johnson City, TN, directed by Dan Boner
  • Warren Wilson College Bluegrass Band, from Asheville, NC, directed by Ben Krakauer
  • Buncombe County Bug Stompers, from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC, directed by Phil Jamison.
  • Warren Wilson College Old-Time String Band, directed by Kevin Kehrberg.

The Foundation was involved with planning the “Creating a Bluegrass Legacy” seminar held earlier on Oct. 2. Organized by Dr. Richard Brown and moderated by Ron Raxter, speakers included Alison Brown, co-founder of Compass Records; Greg Cahill of Special Consensus, musician/educator/archivist Jan Johansson, and Jeff Hammer of Northwest Financial.

Lee Bidgood, a professor of Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies in the Department of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University, organized two academic-themed sessions that were live-streamed on the IBMA Foundation Facebook page. To date, 1,400 people have viewed the thought-provoking presentations, which are still available online.

During the “New Research in Bluegrass” panel, four scholars presented 20-minute summaries of their work followed by alive Q&A session on Zoom. Chloe Levine offered research on social divisions and possible “togethernesses” in the music, Hunter Dux addressed Wisconsin-based festivals in a variety of contexts, Emily Williams discussed ways that participants in bluegrass create a community that overcomes disability, and John Duncan explored influences on the banjo playing of Fred Cockerham. View HERE.

At “Go to Bluegrass U,” Dr. Jocelyn Neal from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  presented the most standard song forms and how they are used in bluegrass songs; Dr. Nate Olson of East Tennessee State University discussed approaches to teaching music theory to bluegrass musicians; and Morehead University graduate Andrew Brown introduced the slap bass style and discussed ways of using it in bluegrass. View HERE.

More than 300 visitors checked out the Foundation’s virtual booth in the World of Bluegrass Exhibit Hall. If we didn’t “see” you when you walked by virtually, be sure and contact us at (615) 260-4807 or with any questions.

A week before World of Bluegrass, IBMA announced a $50,000 matching donation from event host PNC Bank. If you would like to make a contribution to help IBMA and the IBMA Trust Fund reach their $50k goal for 2020, please go to this page. If you would like to support the IBMA Foundation mission to make the future of bluegrass brighter by funding programs and initiatives that foster the growth of bluegrass music, please go here. Donations to any of the three IBMA-founded sister organizations may be mailed to: 4206 Gallatin Road, Nashville, TN 37216.

Return to the October 2020 issue of the newsletter.