Bluegrass Today is the first online destination within the bluegrass music world to combine extensive news coverage with the most useful aspects of the social media revolution.
We feel it is the next logical step in the development of an online bluegrass community, following on the success enjoyed by The Bluegrass Blog starting in 2006. What began as a lark for its founders John Lawless and Brance Gillihan became an all-encompassing venture, which has now expanded into Bluegrass Today.
The change was initially predicated by Gillihan’s decision to leave his career in music for a life in Christian ministry in 2010. Soon after learning of Brance’s plans, Lawless had a conversation with celebrated bluegrass broadcaster Terry Herd, who had hatched plans himself for a site to be branded as Bluegrass Today. This first discussion quickly became near daily video conferences, leading to a new partnership and greatly expanded plans for a comprehensive Internet portal to all things bluegrass.
Herd’s vision was to create an authoritative radio playlist chart for bluegrass based on actual spins, combined with a reliable newsgathing operation. He sought out Lawless after seeing the degree to which The Bluegrass Blog had become the standard for excellence in reporting on the music, something recognized when both he and Gillihan were selected as Print Media Persons of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2007.
The Bluegrass Blog had acquired ownership of the popular online discussion forum Bluegrass Rules, and was in the process of converting it to become part of the site when Brance made his life-changing decision. It was quickly incorporated into the new design plan for Bluegrass Today.
Lawless married his vision of incorporating social media and wiki platforms to Herd’s, and the race was on to find a technical team. At this point, fortune smiled on the new partners in the person of Eric Tapp. John and Eric had known each other for years, and it was he who Lawless first thought of when Bluegrass Today was ready to start development. The problem was that Eric had been working on the road the past five years doing rail bed analysis for the railroads, and the two had lost touch. Then one evening, wholly unbidden and unexpected, Tapp strolled up to a show where Lawless was performing in February 2011, and soon after he was on board as IT Director.
Tapp assembled a team of coders, developers, artists and stylists who went straight to work creating the site you see today. Special mentions go to Darren Watkins, Rich LaRusso and Josh Kollin for their hard work.
The launch of Bluegrass Today on September 23, 2011 is only the first half of the rollout. A roughly equivalent expansion is due before the end of October.
Stay tuned – it’s going to be quite a ride!