Your humble authors of Bluegrass Today are featured in a profile in today’s edition of The Roanoke Times, our hometown newspaper. It was written by Ralph Berrier, one-time features writer for the paper, more recently on sabbatical, and now preparing to return to the Times staff full time.
Berrier is a very valuable part of our regional music media, as he is both a fiddler and a serious student of old time music who brings a level of genuine expertise to his coverage of traditional music in our area. We have linked to Ralph’s pieces in the past, most particularly his in-depth series of articles about the efforts of the state of Virginia to establish and promote The Heritage Music Trail, a series of traditional music attractions in SW VA, as a tourist destination for folks interested in the music, and Appalachian culture.
His story in today’s paper marks the upcoming one year anniversary of Bluegrass Today, and is drawn from my recent conversation with Ralph about how the site came to be, and what we have in mind for the future.
You can read the full article on The Roanoke Times web site. There is a small glitch in the article online, where several paragraphs of text are repeated at the end of the piece, but that shouldn’t provide much of a distraction for those interested in reading it.
He mentioned at one point in the article, my thoughts on the international nature of our readership, and how the internet has helped fuel continued growth in interest for all things bluegrass online. We watch those stats (country of origin) with great interest, and they never fail to provide encouragement about the expansion of our music worldwide.
As you may expect, the largest percentage of our readers come from the US, east of the Mississippi, with another large percentage in Europe. What has been interesting is the number we find in Asia. Japan and Australia are not a surprise, as their interest in bluegrass music is well-documented, but we are delighted to consistently see readers in Viet Nam, Thailand, Philippines, Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and even mainland China. We have regular readers in India, and several in northern Africa and Ethiopia.
Of particular interest of late has been our readership in the Middle East. Just today, we have had visits from cyber surfers in Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Iran. About ten days ago, as open warfare was breaking out, we found simultaneous visitors online in Tel Aviv and Beirut.
Perhaps Del McCoury could be dispatched as a roving ambassador?