Day One in the journal of a new group at IBMA

This post is a contribution from Jim Gabehart, one of our 2010 IBMA correspondents. He will report all week about his experiences at IBMA as he tries to promote his new group, Jim & Valerie Gabehart. You can see his profile here.

Day One of the IBMA Experience

Well, this day (or yesterday, as I’m nearing the end of our first day at 3:00 a.m. EDT), started with a minor tragedy of sorts, the loss of a family member – a Martin D-35 guitar, early 70’s model, which I bought and gave to my future wife, Valerie, thirty years ago. A reflection of carelessness, but also the result of running behind and being somewhat frazzled from three weekend performances (including two CD release party concerts promoting the release of our new CD It’s My Turn), I closed but forgot to latch the door on the back of our utility trailer and lost the guitar on some bump or curve.

After back-tracking the route over the ten miles or so between our home in Hamlin, WV, and the point where we discovered the door open, we gave up the search confident that someone had picked up the guitar. Determined not to let this cast a dark shadow over the momentous occasion of our first trip to IBMA and what it represents, I let Valerie drive while I called every music store, pawn shop, and my friends with the West Virginia State Police (being a prosecutor does have perks), and last but not least our insurance agent. Thankfully, this is our “spare” guitar, as Valerie plays a custom limited edition 1992 CTB HD-28 Martin, and we “endeavored to persevere” (forgive the Outlaw Josey Wales reference).

While in college and briefly while our children were small, we were active musically, but as our children became involved in sports, beauty pageants and the like, we dropped out of sight and confined our music to a very small area near our home, and local churches. However, since our children have grown and left home, while we are still relatively young (in our 40’s) we have set our sights on pursuing music and much as possible on the biggest stage possible.

With this goal, we have invested substantial time, money, and energy in preparing for this event. Our new CD, supported by professional promotional materials and website design, give us something to demonstrate what we are capable of doing, and attracting attention at IBMA to raise awareness of our group and hopefully lead to performance opportunities. Of course, this is the hope and dream of many groups like ours, who chose to do the “responsible thing” and pursue an education and/or a secure day job. We did our “duty”, raised our children in a comfortable, secure, and stable home and now “It’s (our) Turn.”

We certainly enjoyed the dinner (typical rubber chicken banquet meal, which is not an indictment of the meal, just the reality of trying to serve 500 meals at once) and Sam Bush’s personal recollections of Bill Monroe, but the highlight of the evening was just reconnecting with old friends and letting them know we’re coming back out to play.

Mike Bub recalled coming to Charleston, WV to enter a banjo contest on summer break from his bluegrass studies at South Plains College with Alan Munde, where we met about 25 years ago (he says I beat him, so I’ll agree with that). I had the chance to speak briefly with, and give one of our CDs to, Kyle Cantrell with visions of XM Radio airplay dancing in my head.

We watched portions of the “official” showcases and several after hours showcases including fellow West Virginian (now a Tennessee resident) Darrell Webb, who performed in an after hours showcase room hosted by Jason and Stacy Grubb. Darrell was kind enough to play mandolin for us a couple weeks ago at a show in Charleston, and is an old friend.

We’re looking forward to our after hours showcase in the Grubb’s room on Wednesday night.  There doesn’t appear to be much jamming going on, but based on reports I’d heard from past years’ attendees, this is no big surprise. This business conference seems more geared to networking and the showcases. Our hope is that among the nearly 600 industry professionals registered to attend (after paying $1180.00 for membership, conference registration, and exhibition booth rental, I had to pay $30.00 for an electronic file listing of the conference attendees) we can raise some level of consciousness about our existence to a point that when we contact DJs or promoters, if they haven’t seen or heard us perform, at least they have heard the name before and perhaps recognize that we’re serious about what we do.

Among three hundred or so emails we sent to conference attendees (we focused on broadcasters, media/journalists and promoters) introducing ourselves, we received only a few responses, but one was a request for an interview from Phil Nusbaum with the Bluegrass Review a syndicated program airing on 60 radio stations, which as I’m writing is scheduled to take place in a few hours. Ever the optimist, I hope to land a few big fish tomorrow.

I already feel like we’re accomplishing some of our goals – be seen, be noticed, be heard, be remembered. We’re planning on giving away as many as 300 CDs we brought with us, not counting several hundred more we’ll be sending out to radio stations after we get home. Whoever said you have to spend money to make money never spoke truer words.

The saga continues . . .