I’m Goin’ Honky Tonkin’!

This post is a contribution from Grace Van’t Hof, one of our 2010 IBMA correspondents. She will report about her experiences at IBMA as she tries to promote her group, Della Mae.

First of all, can I say that I love the women in my band? I was planning on getting up early this morning to sign up for the gig fair, and then planning to do double duty, working it this afternoon. Fortunately for me that girls in my band saw my extreme tiredness (see post entitled “ZZZZzzzz“) and volunteered for the early shift. Thank you Avril Smith and Amanda Kowalski. I’m proud to say I snagged more than 6 hours of sleep last night!

Gig fair! What a great opportunity to promote your band! I recommend having a recording, something that includes a nice promo picture of the band, and a one sheet with quotes (A one sheet is basically a press kit boiled down to one sheet of paper, with a short bio, a list of accolades, a few quotes from big wigs, and, naturally, a photo of the shiny, smiling, and talented band you are promoting.).

Talk about bluegrass speed-dating! We sat down with 7 different promoters and had 7 minutes with each one. Just a “get to know me-get to know you” sort of situation. It’s a great networking opportunity at the least, and at the most you will end up with some very swanky gigs!  Kimber Ludiker and I really enjoyed talking to all the promoters we had the pleasure of meeting, and we are hoping to get in touch with them soon.

After a brief gig-fair debriefing with our publicist, Heidi Labensart, I headed to Boradway’s Honky Tonk district to Layla’s Bluegrass Inn. I had a mission: to catch Travers Chandler and Avery County in action. Folks, these guys played some stout bluegrass. Jess Smith, a good North Carolina friend of mine recently joined that band and turned me on to the showcase, but I’m been a fan of Travers’ singing and mandolin playing for years. I was not disappointed.

These cats can pick and sing with the best of them!  The lineup consisted of Travers Chandler (duh) on mandolin, Jessica Smith on the stompin’ upright bass, Eddie Gill on guitar, and Chris Hill subbing on the banjo. Chris was sitting in in lieu of Avery County’s normal banjo picker Adam Poindexter. Chris did not let us down. The tone he pulled out of his Gibson Bow Tie was positively Scruggs-like, and he suited up old school to boot.

The band is here promoting their brand new, soon to be released, album State of Depression. The album is slated to come out in the next month on Patuxent Records.  Travers gave me a copy, and I can’t wait to listen to it on the long drive home to Beantown. The group played a new song, penned by Travers and Jess Smith, called, Tonight I’ll Put Your Memory Away. This song reminded me of an old Lefty Frizzel tune; a moderate tempo, saturated with heartbreak. It will appear on their new record.

In addition to the rocking originals, the band closed out their set with Eddie’s rendering of the tune Diamond Joe. I still have chills. This man is such a fabulous vocalist, I’m surprised that he isn’t a household name. Here’s to the Carolina Boys!

I’ve done my evening wardrobe change and I am headed to the Martin Guitar Showcase at Robert’s Western World on Broadway. So glad to be finally hitting up Nashville Honky Tonk style!

Happy Wednesday everyone!