G2 performing on the 2009 IBMA Awards ShowG2 is another example of a band that took full advantage of their opportunities at IBMA this year. The trip from Sweden involves considerable expense and preparation, and these five talented musicians were determined to leave as big a footprint as possible behind after their trip to Nashville.

As the winners of the 2007 European Band Of The Year at the European World of Bluegrass, they garnered the IBMA showcase slot “reserved” for the EWOB winners. They played on the Wednesday brunch showcase during IBMA week, but unlike most invited showcase acts, they were also featured on the International Bluegrass Music Awards show and the weekend Fan Fest.

But this wasn’t a matter of pure kismet; the band had laid the groundwork in advance. Banjoist Jens Koch had attended IBMA on a number of occasions, and the entire band was there in 2008. They generated quite a buzz from their late night showcase slots last year, and worked the networking hard that whole week.

Perhaps most importantly, they retained US representation (Roe Entertainment) following IBMA 2008, and booked two brief tours here prior to IBMA ’09. Nothing shows an eagerness to perform in the US more than, well… performing in the US!

Jens shared a few impressions of their recent IBMA experience:

G2 at IBMA - Jens Koch, Tobias Stromberg, Chistoffer Olsson, Jimmy Sunnebrandt, Erik Igelström“We felt like we did a good performance on the main stage, and the energy in that room was great. I think that it’s great to have people sit down and enjoy the music with some food, that never hurts. We got great reactions after that showcase and to us it meant the world compared to doing all the late night showcases where very few people actually show up and personally I think that it’s hard to perform that well in a little showcase room due to our constant fight with jet-lag (it’s like 8 or 9 in the morning for us when we do late night showcases), less sound reinforcement and the small crowds. So we loved to play the brunch showcase.

Playing the Awards Show was such a treat. It felt very special to walk on that stage and I think one of us said ‘what the heck happened down there?’ as we came back to the dressing room in the Ryman, followed by ‘My record collection was sitting in the front row looking at me.’ Scary and nice at the same time. The vibe at the Ryman was definitely something else!”

Their second CD on Sweden’s Cosmos Records is due out shortly, and a number of US labels have expressed an interest in licensing it for distribution in the States.

G2 has plans for another US tour during the summer of ’10, and maybe two. Jim Roe of Roe Entertainment tells us that their exposure at IBMA this year has made a big difference in arranging dates for the band.

“It’s a great selling point that they played on the awards show – not everyone gets to play that show.

We had a lot of interest following their Wednesday showcase. One major festival contacted me right away about having them next year after hearing them live. We’re not sure yet whether they’ll be able to do it, but the immediate response was very encouraging.”

Jim said that they will be in the US from mid-June of 2010 through at least the end of July.

“Their tour will start at the Grass Valley Festival in California, and we also have them booked at ROMP in Louisville. They are booked at Mohican Bluegrass just before IBMA, and we are still filling open dates. If we can keep them busy all summer, the band will stay over here from June all the way up to IBMA in September.

They also did as many media appearances as possible while they were here this fall, including live sets for WAMU’s Bluegrass Country and Bluegrass Breakdown, syndicated on Tennessee Public Radio.

There was also a set for The Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, which was broadcast a few weeks ago on their many affiliate stations. Though primarily a radio show, Woodsongs also offers their programs on video, and you can see G2’s performance online, or in the player below. Just click the image if the player controls don’t appear.

G2 was so visible this year that a number of European bluegrass enthusiasts got to grumbling about how well they were treated at IBMA versus other acts that have made the trip. Acousticure, the 2008 EWOB band champs (from Hungary), made their first trip to IBMA this year, and they could do a lot worse than emulating the example G2 has set for success in the US market.

UPDATE 11/17: Dan Hays, executive director of IBMA, sent along a clarification about the showcase selection process as it involved G2.

“G2 was actually chosen for an official showcase performance slot based on their own merits and IBMA’s selection criteria….rather than assuming a slot reserved for an EWOB winner. In fact, IBMA does not reserve a slot for EWOB winners or any other competition from Europe, the US or elsewhere. All of IBMA’s official showcase artists are selected from amongst those that apply and best fulfill the criteria for those presentations and we wouldn’t want anyone to think G2 was chosen on anything other than their own merits and through processes open to everyone.”

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.