IBMA Travelogue #13

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 #13
By Richard F Thompson
Nashville, Tenn.  Reflections

Dailey & Vincent with their 2008 IBMA awardsOur holiday ended with a delayed flight from Charlotte to London, meaning that we were travelling for almost 23 hours. Jet-lag took a four days to overcome.

However, I enjoyed every minute of our stay in Nashville. The atmosphere at both the IBMA business conference and Fan Fest was as Peter Wernick described; all “hustle and bustle,” I think is what he said.

The programme for the conference was packed and there wasn’t a moment when activity slackened, it seemed. I was able to meet many people that I hadn’t seen in 20 years and spend time with some new friends; put a face to a name, in some instances, as well as meet some who were completely new to me. Networking was a significant element and I am content that in the time available I did as much as I could to make myself known and to promote myself to others.

I wasn’t as tired as I expected I might be. Mind over matter and a good breakfast daily kept stamina up. That said, there was a point on Saturday, maybe very late Friday night, when recovery from lack of sleep began to diminish markedly. On Saturday perhaps I should have just sat and listened to the music, instead of looking for any photographic opportunity and going for it, so to speak. Our investment included expenditure on photographic equipment and taking photographs was one of the reasons for attending. Karen and I have a reasonable catalogue of pictures. I hope that some of them may even find their way into a magazine at some time in future.

I took advantage of as many learning opportunities as were relevant to me as journalist. Another year there may have been more seminars etc. that could have been useful to me, but you can only grasp the opportunities that present themselves.

Where there were choices to be made was in sampling the music during the showcases and at FanFest. Here personal taste won over education, ie watching and listening to a band with whom I had very limited acquaintance. Some may recall that I had spent a bit of time assessing bands before leaving home. Armed with a mental note of the bands that I wanted to see, I attempted to plan my week by making references in the programme. I must say the pocket version of the programme is an exceptionally good idea. Kudos to whoever thought of the format and arranged for it to be printed. Despite the careful planning, I still missed bands that I wanted to see. Offsetting that are the many wonderful surprises that I enjoyed by just making random choices or sitting where I was to see what the next band was like. Ultimately, an attendee has to make the best of what is on offer.

As a ‘once-in-a-life-time’ adventure, it is the elder statesmen of bluegrass that I regret not seeing; Paul Williams, Melvin Goins and JD Crowe come to mind. From the younger generation, I had planned to see/listen to Kody Norris, but‚Ķ didn’t.

The highlight of the week has to be the Awards Show. The atmosphere was electric to start with and it became more super-charged as the evening progressed. With that in mind I make no excuses for having another picture of Dailey & Vincent to illustrate this last Travelogue.

I hope that this series has been as enjoyable to read as it has been for me to compose. Now that vast swathes of the world is feeling the cold, economically, as well as, climatically, I hope that your bluegrass memories of 2008, whether jogged by mine or otherwise, will keep you warm until your next fix of live bluegrass music. Happy Holidays!

Since I have mentioned my lovely, little wife Karen so frequently in these travelogues we thought it would be appropriate to invite her to submit a review as she sees it. So, wait for it ……..coming soon!

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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.