IBMA After Hours: A Few Surprises

lil_mike_reedThis post is a contribution from Mike Reed, one of our 2010 IBMA correspondents. See his profile here.

After the Main Showcase performances, folks moved to the many different rooms set up for performances, many by new artists or those with new recordings to feature. Each room offers 3-5 performers so you have to schedule your time to make sure you get to the room you need to be in, to see the band you want to see, when it is their time to play. If that sounds confusing just try figuring it out when it’s getting started at 11 pm.

Since not all times are exact you often get to a room earlier – or later – than you’d planned so you end up seeing a group that you hadn’t initially had on your “to see” list. This can be a real treat when you stumble on some of the best music you hear all day.

The Hillbenders
The Hillbenders

In trying to catch the late showcase of The Boxcars I came upon The Hillbenders. This has to be one of the most fun bands to watch as well as to hear. The band puts on a great show and their enthusiasm and boisterous approach to the music brought a lot of passers-by inside to see what was going on. They were so good I added them to my list of “must sees” for later that same night.

Della Mae - photo by Eric Levenson
Della Mae

Another band I stumbled on was Della Mae, a group of talented young ladies whose music and stage presence showed a lot of promise. The vocal and instrumental interplay was such that it sounded like they had been doing this for a lot longer than their age would imply. They are well on their way to making a name for themselves in bluegrass.

Finally, while waiting to see The Hillbenders for the second time I had the chance to hear Jeff & Vida for the first time. Now to be honest I’ve had a negative view of any band that is “somebody & somebody” if they have a band behind them. I mean, so who are these other folks? This prejudice kind of got chipped away a bit when Dailey & Vincent came along, but still it lingered a bit.

The Jeff and Vida Band: Justin Hoffenberg, Jake Schepps, Jeff Burke, Vida Wakeman, Will Downes
The Jeff and Vida Band

I have to admit that it got chipped a lot more after I heard them. Jeff & Vida may be the name of the band, but this is a tight group. The songs and vocals of Vida were very impressive. She is a singer that shows real emotion when she sings, not just hitting the notes. Jeff’s mandolin playing doesn’t dominate the music but is there when it needs to be, as is the banjo, fiddle and bass. The fiddle playing of Shad Cobb was subtle when it needed to be and capably right out front when called upon.

So my planned “must see” list was shot pretty early in the evening but the excitement of hearing new music made it all worthwhile. Now I have three other bands to try to work into my list for Wednesday night. Oh well, such is life at the IBMA…