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 # 9
By Richard F Thompson
Nashville, Tenn. Friday, October 3
Fan Fest began this morning, almost 12 hours of bluegrass with little break – officially an hour – if you wanted. This was staged in a very large room next to the Exhibit Hall.
Firstly though, Karen and I had a walk through the Exhibit Hall to see what changes there were as the business conference had ended and new vendors were there pitching their wares. Among the new exhibitors was Kevin Kerfoot and, his wife, Lori, of Bluegrass Music Profiles. Apart from the sample copy in the ‘goody bag’, given to us as part of the registration process, I had not seen this magazine. So we had a look through some earlier editions before purchasing a copy of each that looked interesting and bought some pins of the type that Karen was seeking as gifts for her work colleagues. Later we noticed some similar pins at the Bluegrass Unlimited stand. Our acquisitions there included more gifts and some souvenirs.
Having met Casey Henry earlier in the week, it was an added pleasure to meet her mum, Murphy, and thank her for her help, given freely whenever I had asked in the past.
We joined fellow fans part way through the set by the Infamous Stringdusters, for whom I am taking an increasing liking; followed by the young and immensely talented Sierra Hull & Highway 111; and banjo ace Tony Trischka.
As there was then an interval, we grabbed some food and went to see The Grascals providing a break for the competitors in the Grand Master Fiddler Championship, which was taking place on Level 2.
The Fan Fest schedule resumed with a set from Dale Ann Bradley, who, as the newly-crowned Female Vocalist, was very warmly received by the audience. Following her were fine sets from Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out; the splendidly attired Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Cherryholmes, who provided some family-style entertainment, by a family, for a family; The Dan Tyminski Band, showcasing songs from his excellent album Wheels; The Grascals (yet again!); and Mountain Heart with Tony Rice closed the show. Rice’s appearance triggered a rush of people to the stage for a closer look at the guitar maestro.
En route to the Grand Ballroom, we enjoyed a very brief set from Josh Williams (yet again!) and, subsequently, from Ralph Stanley II. He has come a long way since he was a youngster at the Edale Bluegrass Festival, singing I Ain’t ‘wost’ with his father.
We were doing very well; tiredness wasn’t that much of a problem at midnight. So, I urged Karen to join me to see and hear The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, assuring her that she would like them. She wasn’t sure, but I was right! They are very entertaining and worth a spot at any bluegrass festival wanting a change from straight bluegrass music for 30 minutes or an hour. The Mark Newton Band, with Carl Jackson accompanying them on guitar, followed; Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time; and, very briefly for us, Cadillac Sky.
By 1:30am tiredness did take over and we left early, content that Saturday would feature yet more top bands.