Bluegrass preferences reexamined

I’m away for the holidays in a remote northern cell phone and internet-free land, so the following is a rerun of an earlier column. The part you’re reading was sent to Bluegrass Today by brainwaves (they have tremendous telepathic powers at Bluegrass Today) and by dictating via landline. Happy New Year!

Back in the days when I served on the IBMA Board, as I think I’d mentioned in a previous column, it was a simpler and less stressful time, a time before social media and the clip-on tuner. I also pointed out that my biggest accomplishment as an artists and composers representative was to organize a softball game pitting the artists against  the composers. This is when I discovered the sad truth that songwriters are crappy hitters (from either side), and I say that with all due respect for their formidable skills in other areas, like writing songs, and trash-talking from the bench. We just had different concerns and priorities back then. While today the board wrestles with bitter in-fighting and financial liquidity, I was more concerned about whether the mandolin player at shortstop could successfully throw to second for the force-out.

It was during that time that the bluegrass marketing slogan “Pick it up” was adopted, the goal being to equate bluegrass music in people’s consciousness with something you might grab at the store on your way home, like a gallon of milk. Either that, or it was a way to promote the Jesse McReynolds cross-picking roll. Honestly, I don’t remember. I just know that it all seemed so comparatively innocent.

We shouldn’t forget, though, that some serious work was being done behind the scenes in those more peaceful times. The IBMA commissioned some very important market research, aimed at encouraging corporate sponsorship. It was a pretty thorough examination of the demographics of bluegrass fans, and their personal and economic habits.

It produced information as simple as the fact that bluegrass fans prefer Coke to Pepsi by a margin of 54% to 46%. This is the kind of fact that can be useful, for example, in courting sponsorship from Pepsi in order to peel off some of Coke’s market share.

The information went deeper than brown carbonated beverages, though, and I’m happy to say that thanks to the FOBIA (Freedom of Bluegrass Information Act), I was able to obtain some of the results of the study that have been previously unpublished. Really I just took advantage of the fact that IBMA is moving to new offices this week, and I just grabbed a random folder when no one was looking.

Here are a few of the more interesting tidbits:

Preferred Bank:

PNC – 34%
Bank of America – 32%
J.P. Morgan Chase – 19%
Mattress – 8%
The CD/Merchandise Money Pouch – 7%

Preferred Supermarket:

Kroger (because of those Reno & Smiley shows) – 30%
Safeway – 23%
Ingles – 19%
Español – 16%
Country Store (the Jimmy Gaudreau one) – 6%
Country Store (the one that “smells like country ham and cheese”) – 6%

Preferred Car:

Chevy – 24%
Ford – 24%
’58 International – 22%
Festival Golf Cart (Harley Davidson) – 19%
Draft Horse (Belgian) – 11%

Political affiliation:

Democratic Party – 23%
Republican Party – 23%
Disinterested Party – 20%
Whatever Ralph Stanley is – 18%
Whatever Nathan Stanley is – 16%

Preferred work dressing style:

Business casual – 28%
Sloppy casual – 26%
Festival Casual – 19%
Price is Right contestant casual – 15%
Jimmy Martin formal – 12%

Favorite Movie:

Oh Brother Where Art Thou? – 41%
Deliverance – 22%
Bonnie and Clyde – 15%
That movie where Steven Segal is a badass EPA agent and Rob Ickes and Marty Stuart play at the dance and a lot of country stars get the *%$%# beat out of them (or was that just a dream?) – 13%
French Kiss – 9%

Preferred alcoholic cocktail:

Jack Daniels and Coke – 38%
Bourbon and Ale-8-1 (ask a Kentuckian) – 29%
Scotch and Cheerwine (ask a North Carolinian of Scottish descent) – 22%
Moonshine and whatever – 9%
Whatever – 2%

Preferred Pick-up Line:

“Your teeth shine like lilies out in the morning cold.” – 40%
“Take me for longing or leave me behind.” – 26%
“I’ve got a pig home in a pen and corn to feed him on, all I need is a pretty little girl to feed him when I’m gone.” – 22%
“Excuse me, I think I left my IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award on the bar somewhere.” – 11%
“Hey, you sure look like a medium. Can I get you a free band T-shirt?” – 1%

There you have it. Do with this information what you will. In any case, I think we’re all better off for having access to this knowledge. I cite a recent poll showing that 64% of us believe we would be better off with more polling and statistics in our lives. 36% didn’t hear the question (margin of error +/- 64%).