Our own intrepid correspondent, Richard Thompson [bluegrassmercury], spent a week in Nashville in early October, having traveled from the UK to attend the IBMA convention. It was his first trip to IBMA in 20 years, and we thought that his post-IBMA impressions and reflections would be of interest both to others who were likewise in attendance, and our many readers who would love to have been there.
bluegrassmercury Travelogue # 10
By Richard F Thompson
Nashville, Tenn. Saturday, October 4
With tiredness clearly taking its toll on our energy levels, we made a slow start to the day and it wasn’t until about 1:00pm that we went into hall where the Fan Fest Main Stage acts were performing.
Audie Blaylock & Redline, with youngsters Patrick McAvinue and Evan Ward on fiddle and banjo respectively, offered a solid set from the traditional bluegrass mould; NewFound Road, supplemented by a guest fiddler; Circuit Riders; Special Consensus; bluegrass songbird Alicia Nugent; and Williams & Clark Expedition, a quartet with very strong pickers that had piqued my interest from afar. Before taking a break for food – a lovely dish of pork and beans – I traded a few jokes with former Blue Grass Boy Blake Williams.
Fan Fest resumed with Ralph Stanley II, who really tugged at the heartstrings with his rendition of Fred Eaglesmith’s song Carter, a tribute to his late uncle; Ronnie Bowman, who we enjoyed as much as when we saw them at the Station Inn, but what was more noticeable, from a different perspective, was Donica Christensen’s strong right hand on the banjo; Dailey & Vincent; with very young mandolin picker — showing that they had remained down-to-earth after their incredible week of much adulation – as well as treating us to some of their stellar vocals.
During a brief break from the music, there was a presentation to Carl Jackson, who was responsible for organising Fan Fest. It was well deserved recognition for a lot of hard work.
Vince Gill, with Deanie Richardson, Charlie Cushman, Mike Bub and Jeff White providing close support. Gill is smooth-voiced, but his set was bluegrass to my ears, with two songs that he did, Cold Gray Light Of Gone and Go Rest High On That Mountain, remaining in the forefront of my memory. Bradley Walker, [Ken, when are we going to get a second CD from this superb singer?]; Kathy Mattea, showcasing songs from her back-to-basics CD Coal; and The Lonesome River Band closed the Saturday evening portion of Fan Fest.