Fake news finds its way into the bluegrass community!

You may have seen the recent story in Bluegrass Today, reassuring potential Nashville SPBGMA attendees that there will in fact be jamming at the Sheraton Music City this weekend, and plenty of it, contrary to recent rumors suggesting that jamming would be prohibited. 

Where did this rumor originate, I asked myself? After some digging, I came up with an answer I didn’t like, an answer that led to more questions, leading to more answers that led to still more questions. Now I’m exhausted by the question and answer session.

What I discovered, I’m afraid, is that this was no mere rumor; it was a deliberate attempt to deceive. In short it was fake bluegrass news deliberately planted to disrupt and destabilize our bluegrass world. The culprit in this case was a somewhat obscure web site called rawbluegrass.net, which bills itself as the source for “unfiltered bluegrass truth.” The article didn’t just claim that jamming would be forbidden at the Sheraton, it suggested that those found doing so would be ejected from the event, and “prosecuted for disturbing the peace,” even hinting that those resisting arrest would be apprehended by Sheraton thugs and “beaten senseless with a plastic water jug from one of the conference rooms.” 

Naturally, no sources were cited, so the original source and the motive for spreading this false story is unclear. Initial suspects were individuals with a vendetta against either the SPBGMA organization—perhaps a band that failed to make it to the final round of last year’s band contest—or someone out to hurt the business of the Sheraton Music City. No staff members of rawbluegrass.net were available for comment, and no calls or emails were returned.

I spoke to a bluegrass media expert, Albert Byeline, who has spent the last two years researching this new crop of fake bluegrass news sites (“for very little money,” he added, testily), and he gave me some chilling information: most of these new sites have appeared in the last three years, with some being financed or even directly controlled by operatives in either Russia, Kentucky, or Colorado, or sometimes all three. “Their goal is to sow confusion and distrust within the bluegrass community,” stated Byeline, “or at least more confusion and distrust than is already there.”

For several hours, I surfed through a list of web sites supplied by Byline and here are a few of the completely erroneous stories I found, just from the past week alone:

From WeeklyBluegrassNews.us

IBMA to Move to Las Vegas 

In a move they don’t want you to know about, fearing backlash from members and from Raleigh, NC city government officials, the IBMA board, now controlled by a secret faction called “The Crosstuned Brotherhood” has decided to move both the organization’s offices and the annual IBMA World of Bluegrass to Las Vegas, Nevada. Weekly Bluegrass News has learned that although the specific site for the WOB has not been finalized, Caesar’s Palace is the front runner. Wayne Newton has already been asked to host the awards show.

From RealBluegrass.net:

Bill Monroe Alive and Part of Underground Network

The recent auctioning off of parts of Bill Monroe’s identity was part of an elaborate cover-up of the fact the Father of Bluegrass is still very much alive and wielding more power and influence than ever. Though now well over 100 years old, Monroe is still working with the draft horses on his farm in Robertson County, TN, completely hidden from view, thanks to a “false farm” with a thick stand of trees which obscures the view of the actual farm. Once a week he is transported to Frankfort, KY by helicopter, where secret meetings with Carlton Haney, Tom Brokaw, and his longtime friend Colonel Sanders take place in an underground bunker (Sanders is dead, but is being being played by Dana Carvey). They are thought to be manipulating the economies of several states and at least one Central American country. They also write the occasional song, and are planning a large bluegrass festival for 2019.

From CompletelyTrueBluegrassNewsWeSwear.com:

Members of Five Bands Merge to Become “The Traveling Bluegrass Guys”

After the recent formation of the Highland Travelers, the members of The Boxcars and Rambler’s Choice who were not part of the new band, plus former members of three other bands, have joined forces to form The Traveling Bluegrass Guys, a band which promises “high octane traditional bluegrass with a modern attitude.” They will be one of the official showcase acts at the 2018 IBMA World of Bluegrass in Las Vegas.