IBMA Travelogue # 11

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 # 11
By Richard F Thompson
Nashville, Tenn. Sunday, October 5

Larry Stephenson at IBMA 2008 - photo by Karen ThompsonEarlier in the week, I had been invited by Bob Webster, WAMU’s Bluegrass Country, to join him while he did his Stained Glass Bluegrass show.

Unlike the schedule for other WAMU transmissions from Nashville that week, Bob’s programme was broadcast at its regular Washington DC time. This caused me some problems with my mental arithmetic. What time was that Nashville time? To cut a long story short – I will say it involved trying to think of the time that the show aired London time – I arrived at the studio on the fourth floor of the Renaissance Hotel an hour early. I knew where my body was, but where my tired mind was I don’t know. In an attempt to wake up, I went to have some breakfast and an essential cup of coffee. I can laugh about it now!

Bob and I chatted about the English man John Newton, who wrote the lyrics to Amazing Grace, the bluegrass scene in the UK and played a couple of appropriate recordings, including the Isaacs’ version of the Newton song.

A little while later, I sat in while Larry Stephenson was interviewed by Bob That was a thrilling experience.

Sunday morning at Fan Fest is devoted to bluegrass Gospel with all but one of the bands scheduled having bluegrass Gospel as their forte or their last album featured sacred music (and sometimes that is one and the same thing).

Unfortunately, we missed seeing Paul Williams & Victory Trio; it was one of the few disappointments of the week. However, David Parmley & Continental Divide; Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Band; The Larry Stephenson Band, with Kristin Scott Benson making one of her last, if not the last, appearance with Larry Stephenson before joining The Grascals; and Don Rigsby & Midnight Call all beautifully sang His praises, just as many do on a Sunday.

With the close of Fan Fest, Karen and I expressed our gratitude to Dan Hays for the way in which the week had passed smoothly and to bid farewell to those who we would not see again, before finding a restaurant in which we could have a relaxed lunch.

We didn’t have very far to go! We can recommend Demo’s at the corner of Third Avenue North and Commerce Street. It served good food, the staff were attentive without being overbearing and the atmosphere was restful, despite the restaurant appearing to be busy.

We spent the rest of the day enjoying the sunshine, doing some packing and planning for our last full day in Nashville.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.