The vendor Exhibit Hall opened to a small throng at noon on Tuesday, and although there don’t seem to be as many vendors as last year, those here are chatting with the (small) crowds milling around. This intrusive reporter hasn’t seen much cash changing hands, but there are a lot of pretty good pickers trying all the instruments at the booths inside. Sitting outside the Exhibit Hall at this moment I can hear several banjos, a bass or two thumping away, some guitars and a lone mandolin.
Vendors are listening to the marketing gurus who have been telling everyone who will listen that capturing addresses is as good as money in the bank, and many are doing just that by offering a chance to win something in exchange for data mining. Even this blogger decided to take a chance or two (some new bass strings might be nice…).
Room temperatures seem to be set for the crowds of years past. People are running around in jackets and those without are shivering – including this one, who has been debating the merits of purchasing yet another jacket to hang in the closet back home. You see, in Arizona we don’t have many occasions to don one until December or January, and then it’s just for a day or two. I can’t help but think that the temperature may have something directly to do with the lack of apparent sales happening – it’s just too cold to stop moving!
While the economy seems to have kept many pickers away this week, the ones here are having a wonderful time catching up with each other and trading licks. Business cards are changing hands almost as fast as picks. Musicians are stopping in the aisles to catch up with each other and chat with the members of the media roaming around.
One of the advantages of sitting outside the Hall writing is that there are opportunities galore to visit with lots of people we only get to see in Nashville. Sammy Pasamano stopped to make sure we were coming to the Rural Rhythm showcases over the next few days; John and Peggy from the Arizona Bluegrass Association gave a glowing recommendation for the hotel buffet.
Darren and Brooke Aldridge came by to talk about their latest project, Darren and Brooke Aldridge – their first since they got married December 2008 – currently ranked #6 on the BU chart. This album represents what they stand for as a couple to be displayed for other folks. It’s full of love songs combining the secular world with the gospel world. Future plans are to do a new record next year, meeting as many people as they can, playing festivals including the 2nd annual Darren and Brooke Aldridge Music Festival taking place next April 1st & 2nd.
They’re having a terrific time, even though Brooke is complaining about the chilliness too. Darren said, “It’s a great place to put faces to names after spending time talking on the phone and connecting through e-mail. We just love Fan Fest and the showcases!”
Next to come by and chat, and share her warmth, was Janet McGarry. She and her husband have been in town since last week, visiting with other artists and watching shows at the Grand Ol’ Opry. Her band’s got a new CD out and has spent the summer touring around Canada, playing at ten festivals over the last three weeks in eastern Canada, into Ontario and New Foundland for the first time. In Tottenham, she saidwas “lucky enough,” to get to put together a set with the Daughters of Bluegrass members who were also at the festival with their respective bands. At the end of the set, the Daughters invited all the ladies in the audience up on stage to join in singing Will the Circle Be Unbroken reminding everyone there that our roots go back to the Carter family and the mother of country, Maybelle Carter.
Rick Spinney stopped by to share awards show gossip with Janet and me; Bill Knowlton stopped by to talk about his “meat and three” lunch and, don’t forget the chess pie! Darrel Langley stopped by to ask about linking this writer’s posts to his newsletter…oh what a time to chat! I think I like this sitting outside moment.