This post is the first in a series of pieces planned between now and the 2011 IBMA World of Bluegrass. In each, we will discuss WOB with a different industry professional, examining their expectations as they prepare for IBMA week in September. Afterwards, we’ll hear from them again to see how those expectations were met, and how they would rate the experience for their professional advancement and development.
I have been to a few conventions before. Made the last one held at the Galt House in good ol’ Kentucky. That last one was actually my first. It was very memorable for me, mainly because it was something I had always dreamed of doing, and because I got the chance to meet Dixie Hall. Got to take an elevator ride next to Tim Stafford. Got to shake hands with Tim O’Brien, got to have a short conversation with Pete Wernick.
I remember taking it all in. Watching the jams. Seeing all of these amazing artists up close. The whole experience is one of my fondest memories.
My world has changed a bit since that first time at IBMA. I now have a new vantage point in the fact that I am making my very first IBMA as a solo artist. The world just got bigger overnight (or at least it feels that way). The first thing to change is the realization that the majority of any eyes that look my way will be on me. I would be telling a lie if I did not admit that that thought alone makes the whole thing a bit intimidating. I will be playing my songs with my sound in front of whoever cares to listen. Something that I have always dreamed of doing. It makes the stakes seem higher.
On this side of the aisle, as the solo artist, all of the successes and failures fall on my shoulders. The responsibility of finding showcases and booking hotel rooms. The promotion of myself and what showcases I get. The paperwork, the web pages, the show itself. All of these things fall to me now. In many ways it feels like the day I graduated high school. I can recall my grandpa’s words: “Well ya did it. Now it’s time to go to work.”
So far I know I will be part of the songwriters showcase. Myself and several other great artists will be playing two of our songs for everyone who is present in the room. I’m really looking forward to that, getting my stuff out there.
I’m also in the process of trying to book as many after hours showcases as I can. The reason being, that is where you can meet and greet the fans, the promoters, and your peers. I truly believe that this is what makes bluegrass and the IBMA so special – the feeling of community. The ability to meet people face to face and tell them who you are and what you are about. The feeling of really being a part of something.
That feeling has not changed from fan to sideman to hopeful new artist. I look forward to telling more of my experience from the other side.