Billy Hurt at Wide Open Bluegrass 2019 – photo © Tara Linhardt
On Friday at Wide Open Bluegrass there were so many stages going, with great music all day and much of the night, both indoors and outdoors, that there was definitely something for everyone.
Some of my favorite musical acts were on the Youth Stage and the JAM program stage. The Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program is a 501c3 organization that provides after school music instruction in many communities in the Southern Appalachian region, to kids who otherwise might not have an opportunity to learn an instrument. Children can learn traditional mountain music styles on all the main instruments of the genre, as well as dance. Plus they get to go on field trips and attend community building activities. Many really hot professional musicians have come out of this program that helps kids learn the skills of musicianship, as well as the fun and sense of community that can accompany bluegrass and old time music.
For more details on this program, and how you can help, visit them online. Many of the young bands I saw on the JAM stage were highly skilled and experienced young pickers, and I highly recommend that you check them out whenever you can.
The Youth Stage just outside the Convention Center also had a focus on up-and-coming bluegrass talent. All weekend, young bands showcased on this stage along with the kids from the IBMA Kids on Bluegrass Program, which was headed up this year by Deanie Richardson, fiddler with Sister Sadie. Kids on Bluegrass is a program during the IBMA week that kids from all over can apply to join. The kids get some instruction in playing, but also in arranging, producing, promoting, emcee skills, and the like, with a chance to meet and play music with other young pickers from all over the country. It provides the Kids on Bluegrass youngsters one set on stage on Friday and one on Saturday to showcase their skills in bands that were created during the program.
Here are some photos and video clips from the day so you can see and hear some for yourself.
ShadowGrass at the JAM stage
Appalachian Road Show
The Burnett Sisters
Allison de Groot and Nic Gareiss