Bankester Family at IBMA

The Bankester Family performing at IBMA 2009 - Alysha, Doreen and Melissa BankesterIn keeping with our theme of follow-up coverage of the 2009 World Of Bluegrass events in Nashville, here is a report from Phil Bankester, pater familias of The Bankester Family.

The band consists of Phil and Dorene Bankester, their daughters Melissa, Lindsey, Emily and Alysha, and one son-in-law, Kyle Triplett. They were among the invited showcase acts for this year, and Phil provided this after action report for our readers.

IBMA’s World of Bluegrass was a terrific experience for us. We have never attended the business conference before, and this was a real treat. We arrived at 3:00 am Monday, exhausted from playing fifteen shows at Silver Dollar City and then driving most of the night. I learned quickly of the alternate IBMA acronym, ‘I’ve Been Mostly Awake.’

As one of this year’s official showcase bands, I have to give a public ‘thank you’ to IBMA and all they did for us. Free registration for the whole band, a booth in the exhibit hall, early sign up for the gig fair, and then the opportunity to perform was, to us, a wonderful package and we’ll be forever grateful. We thought that the selection of seminars/workshops was very good. In many instances we split up and attended multiple simultaneous sessions. The IBMA education committee is really doing a fine job.

Alysha Bankester, John Abrams, Emily Bankester at IBMA 2009The booth seems to have been very beneficial. A lot of people came by there to see us, and to watch the music video as well. We connected with a good number of DJs in the exhibit hall

John Abrams stopped by the booth the day he was there to say hi to the girls and see the music video. We met the Abrams Brothers back in 2005 playing the same festival in North Carolina. An interesting bit of trivia…  their first music video was a Becky Buller song, as is ours (Carolina Rain).

I think it’s pretty accurate to say that relatively few people knew of The Bankester Family before this past summer. Having been selected to showcase, we decided to do our best to generate some awareness prior to September 28. That’s what prompted the ‘behind the scenes’ video. That, along with learning how to make use of email blasts, and then the release of the finished music video a few days before WOB, actually seems to have worked fairly well.

The music video has been very well-received. I think something like that helps give a band some additional credibility. We’ve even had inquiry from some other artists interested in having us (Genuine Human Productions) produce music videos for them.

The Bankester girls with Jamie Johnson of The GrascalsThe younger girls really were quite in awe at the whole experience. They thoroughly enjoyed working the exhibit booth and visiting with so many folk. It was fun for them just walking around and being stopped by someone who had either seen the showcase or the video at some point. One of the real highlights for them was going to the awards show for the first time. They’re developing artists, but huge fans, too.

It’s important to remember that this was, indeed, a business conference and that’s why we were there. I think the contacts we made and the invitations we’ve received to festivals certainly made it a worthwhile experience for us.

I frequently say that Bluegrass is much more than a musical genre – it’s a community. Being at this year’s World of Bluegrass just drove the point home even harder. It was great being with so many wonderful people.