IBMA Awards Show Director Stephen Ruffo on show logistics and Wintergrass

Stephen Ruffo knows how to put on a big show. He is the man behind the scenes at Wintergrass, and for many years, he and Patrice O’Neill ran the Mandolin Symposium for David Grisman and Mike Marshall in Santa Cruz, California. The IBMA Awards Show at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. is billed as “The biggest night in bluegrass music!” and certainly the culmination and highlight of the World of Bluegrass business conference.

Stephen shares insights and challenges on running a show of this magnitude, as well as the overall direction set by Alison Brown’s keynote speech. We also chatted briefly about the upcoming Wintergrass Festival starting February 20 with the theme of Bluegrass Beyond Borders. Its always fun talking with the Ruffo and witnessing the enthusiasm and high amount of energy he puts into everything he does, not unlike this energetic Pacific Northwest football coach. Hmm, maybe it is something in the salmon.

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About the Author

Dave Berry

Dave Berry is a California based author, mandolin picker, and composer who writes the California Report column for Bluegrass Today. He grew up in the Ohio Valley right between where the Big Sandy and Big Scioto rivers dump into the Ohio. His articles, Morning Walk album, and video are available on streaming sites and his website at