I’ve just arrived at the IBMA World of Bluegrass and I have a short report that mainly has to do with the check-in process.
If you’ve kept up with social media discussions (something I don’t recommend), you may recall there was some disagreement and pushback when it was announced that there would be a vaccine mandate to attend this year’s WOB and that masks would be required for all indoor events. It seems that the IBMA board was concerned about the potential for the WOB to become a “super-spreader” event. Sound thinking, of course, but what they failed to realize was that a number of people—with some justification—believe that it always was a super-spreader event, just with less dangerous viruses. In fact, being sick for a week or two following the big week is as much a part of the World of Bluegrass tradition as the awards show or tacking up flyers on elevator walls. We always blamed the hotel ventilation (for spreading viruses, not for the elevator flyers) until we got to the fourth hotel since the IBMA’s creation, and realized they can’t all be to blame. In short, those objecting to the 2021 admission policy believe that willingly spreading viruses amongst attendees is a decades-long tradition that shouldn’t be tampered with, even if this particular virus can hospitalize and kill people.
In any event (our event, in fact), those mitigating measures are in place. The argument about these requirements may have obscured the fact that there is also a less-publicized admission hurdle this year, even for those who have their vaccine ducks in a row (an admittedly stupid metaphor/cliche): in order to keep outsiders who have absolutely no familiarity with bluegrass from crashing the event, making social distancing that much more difficult, and requesting Wagon Wheel, all attendees must first answer a short quiz about bluegrass music, and 7 out of 10 correct answers are required.
Since it’s already Wednesday, and I find this policy just a little bit exclusive, I am providing you with the answers to all ten questions. If you’d like to refer to the questions themselves, I’ve included those below, but it’s not really necessary. Just put these down in the following order on the form when you check in:
- Bessie Lee Mauldin
- Tone ring
- Weird but cool
- Hot and Cold
- Delivering mail
- The elevator
Congratulations! You’re in.
- What is the most mispronounced last name in bluegrass music?
- Name the most disappointing host city for the IBMA World of Bluegrass.
- Name a part of the banjo that no member of the general public cares about.
- How would you best describe the mandolin tuning used by Bill Monroe for Get Up John?
- After 1947, what was it no longer necessary for one of Bill Monroe’s fiddle players to play?
- What is the preferred temperature of corn?
- In Down the Road, Old Man Flatt owned a farm but also needed a day job. What was it?
- By Friday of this week, what will be the most frustrating mode of transportation?
- What word best describes the average full time bluegrass musician’s income?
- Do most people attend the IBMA World of Bluegrass for business or pleasure?