This is the fourth year for this “different” festival (Dare To Be Different Showcase). The Bell Buckle Cafe and Banquet Hall opens up to all comers for a day of top-notch entertainment and food for the paltry sum of $10 (plus food). All the musicians donate their time and travel to help raise funds to promote bluegrass in the schools and to a younger crowd. According to one of the day’s organizers, Ernie Evans, “if we’ve inspired one child to learn to play an instrument, that child dared to be different.”
Bands at this year’s festival included Chicken Dinner Road from Idaho, Brad Long & Friends from Ohio, Common Ground from Indiana, as well as Tennessee bands Jerry Butler & the Blue-Jays, Friday Night Orphan Brigade, Runaway Freight and showcase organizer Valerie Smith and her band, Liberty Pike.
In previous years the funds have been used to promote the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Foundation for Education. This year’s event is to benefit the International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) because, Smith said, of the museum’s promotion of the genre. “Each artist in the museum’s displays is different, but all contribute to the genre.”
Ernie Evans helped put this year’s event together – along with promoting a monthly fund-raising concert series currently held in Owensboro – to help raise money for the museum’s new displays. “Bell Buckle,” Liberty Pike’s hometown, “is a great place to hold this event, and the timing is perfect with all of the visitors in nearby Nashville for IBMA’s annual World of Bluegrass conference,” said Evans. A brief survey of the 250+ attendees showed that people have come from as far away as Germany and Australia.
According to Gabriella Gray, IBMM director, the city of Owensboro has donated a prime piece of real estate located in the heart of town to be used by the museum to expand. This expansion will also include a recording studio combining old and new technology, with bands trading performing fees for recording fees and creating a “live audience” feel. Money raised from today’s Dare To Be Different Showcase will help the museum to expand these types of projects.
A series of 30 second public service announcements promoting the museum and it’s programs will be debuted at the IBMA Awards Show on Thursday. They’ve been recorded by Valerie Smith, Ernie Evans, Dan Tyminski and Ronnie Bowman. After Thursday, these announcements will be aired nationally.