Is IBMA Heading for North Carolina? (updated)

Is IBMA’s World of Bluegrass moving from Nashville to Raleigh, NC?

There are reports circulating that the weeklong conference and Fan Fest will be held in Raleigh in 2013. Those reports appear premature, but an announcement is imminent.

Nancy Cardwell, IBMA’s acting executive director, responded to a series of Facebook posts with a comment of her own, noting that “the board has not made an announcement yet. Somebody out there has some misinformation or is jumping the gun. Stay tuned, guys.”

It appears, though, that the board has made a decision and is in the process of working out details.

IBMA President Stan Zdonik said late Tuesday night that he could not comment on Raleigh or any other site because “nothing has been signed.” But, he said, “There are plans to make an announcement soon.”

Raleigh and Louisville, KY, were in the running to replace Nashville as the home of World of Bluegrass. Louisville hosted the event before IBMA moved to Nashville. The event started in Owensboro, KY, in 1990.

While IBMA’s contract for convention space is expiring, Nashville officials were putting together a bid to keep the conference there in future years.

A move to Raleigh wouldn’t be surprising. Many IBMA members complain about the high cost of hotel rooms in Nashville. A full week at the conference hotel and all World of Bluegrass and Fan Fest events can easily top $1,500, not including the cost of transportation and meals. But Nashville has its supporters, too, and is, at the moment, IBMA’s home base.

There was no announcement of move-related activities after the board’s recent spring meeting. But the board did pick up one likely supporter of moving to Raleigh. William Lewis, executive director of Raleigh-based Pine Cone Piedmont Council, a roots music organization, was named to fill the term of another member.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.

  • Jon Weisberger

    “But those reports appear to be false – or at least premature.”

    What is the value of circulating “reports [that] appear to be false – or at least premature?”

    • David Morris

      Jon, when the interim director comments in a public forum and chooses the words she chose, that’s worth noting. She didn’t say the board hasn’t made a decision. She said the board hasn’t made an announcement. She didn’t say the reports were wrong. She said someone “has some misinformation OR is jumping the gun.” (My emphasis.) To me, that statement was worth reporting.

    • Dick Beckley

      It appears that circulating reports that the editor seems to have correct info about is a lot more accurate than your evaluations Jon.

  • Jon Weisberger

    “She didn’t say the reports were wrong. She said someone ‘has some misinformation OR is jumping the gun.’ (My emphasis.) To me, that statement was worth reporting.”

    I don’t think I agree with that, David. It’s functionally the same as saying “it’s true OR it’s not true.” Which, in my opinion, isn’t especially informative. The only actual information being “reported” here is that someone posted the rumor, and – again, just my opinion – there’s nothing particularly urgent or compelling about that.

    • Cliff Abbott

      She didn’t deny the speculation when presented with the opportunity to do so. That IS newsworthy. It’s also significant that the “rumor” turned out to be true. Like any responsible journalist, Morris followed up on the “rumor” and clearly delineated fact from speculation. Whether the information was “urgent or compelling” is a matter for the writer and editor to decide.

      Further, I question the appropriateness of an IBMA board member publicly critiquing a member of the press for correctly reporting a subject without the board’s approval.

      • Dick Beckley

        I totally agree with you, Cliff, but then , I almost always disagree with anything Jon states or is enthusiastic about!

  • docfiddle

    But sometimes the rumor itself — which is a fact — is worth reporting when the impact of the rumor (and of what may happen should it come to pass) is significant to alot of people. Some rumors aren’t worth reporting — a rumor that the interim director has decided to part her hair on the left rather than the right is not worth reporting. A rumor, confirmed by multiple sources as concerning something that actually is under consideration, and that concerns the fate of an industry organization, *is* worth reporting. That’s what journalists do. They don’t wait for the press release, they dig behind the scenes. In this case, it is a fact that IBMA’s contract is expiring and that Nashville is preparing bids. No one disputes the complaints about the high cost of attending. No one disputes that IBMA is in financial trouble. So the rumor has lots of scaffolding around it that gives it heft and makes it worth reporting. A move to Raleigh has lots of consequences for this industry. I hope people keep reporting on it.

  • StoneFingers

    I would much rather hear “false” rumors now, then be given “fact” after it’s too late.

    If the move to NC IS being considered, and people object while it’s “just a rumor”, than maybe that mistake wont be made…

    If we sit by and wait for the “official announcement”, then its too late.

  • Anson Burtch

    It’s moving to Raleigh folks! bit.ly/L3AI9e

    In today’s world of social media where nothing is secret or sacred how can anyone expect to keep a lid on these kind of announcements?

  • Wes Lassiter

    I’m just happy it could be coming to NC. I can afford to go. Nashville is way too expensive.

  • Gene Brown

    Yeah, Guys and Gals……we in the local bluegrass scene around Raleigh are very excited about this announcement. It is very difficult to walk around in Raleigh without stepping on a couple of bluegrass bands, and there are so many good bands out here in surrounding counties.

    Raleigh was able to present a very good case for this event because unlike Nashville, which is scattered all over hell’s half acre and is expensive, Raleigh now has a very compact and attractive downtown area with sterling performance venues, including our new amphitheatre, and there are nice hotels right there with more attractive pricing. The principal thing Nashville had going for it was simply the presence of all those music industry folks, which is not to be discounted, of course, but I think it was hard for the IBMA folks not to be seduced by what we had to offer.

  • Tom Warlick

    I made a joke today that IBMA is getting closer to Charlotte, but the comment regarding Raleigh having a strong bluegrass presence is on-the-mark. The city will make a strong impression on IBMA, even though I wish it was in Charlotte but that is for personal reasons knowing full well Raleigh has more muscle to make it happen.

  • Dick Beckley

    It is time for a move out of Nashville! Our coffer is running low and has been half depleted since the move to Nashville. Membership is down and so is enthusiasm. I predict that the move to Raleigh will be a catalyst for IBMA to return to it’s former glory as more people attend because it has become affordable again. Also, new leadership at the top will also help provided that they listen to the membership’s concerns.
    I remember the days in Louisville and the 24 hour a day jams in all parts of the Galt House and young people jamming all over the main lobby of the hotel. Upon moving to Nashville and all the restrictions on jamming and other items, the youngsters all virtually disappeared form the convention. Youth is our ticket to bluegrass music’s survival into the future. It is also my opinion that youth in numbers playing the music we love will do much more for it’s survival than the far reaching fringe “bluegrass rock and heavy metal” type stuff being applauded by non-purists as the salvation of our music. That would be about the same as what the current all sound alike garbage played on country radio has done for the country music most of us once loved.

  • marxmando

    Being from (and living in) the SW, NC is just another far place to go to. I will most likely go…especially if “costs” are down from the Nashville scene. I thought it would be nice to have IBMA held at a different location each year – focusing on the Mid-west and occasionally hitting the west coast. I do understand, though, that most likely there are more folks in the east that attend than from the west…that, I would assume, = more $ in attendance. Congrats NC.