Leadership Bluegrass 2009

IBMAThe International Bluegrass Music Association has announced the names of the participants in the 2009 class of Leadership Bluegrass.

Leadership Bluegrass, now in its 10th year and with more than 200 alumni, is an intensive three-day program of advanced level, interactive learning experiences that invites participants to examine the challenges and opportunities facing our music along with related leadership issues.

The forthcoming program takes place at the BMI offices, in Nashville, Tennessee, from Tuesday, March 10 through to Thursday, March 12 and includes seminars on such topics as The State of the Industry and a Profile of the Bluegrass Consumer, Songwriting and Publishing (in two parts), Getting Music to Consumers (in five parts) and The Artist’s Team (in two parts).

A sample of some of the presenters for the 2009 program include The Del McCoury Band, Dan Keen (ASCAP VP), Pete Fisher (Grand Ole Opry General Manager), Brian Smith (co-founder and VP of Value Music Concepts), and Anastasia Brown (award-winning producer, President of 821 Entertainment Group and Nashville Star judge).

My thanks are due to Trisha Tubbs, of the Leadership Bluegrass Planning Committee, for provide much of the above information.

One of the members of the class of 2008, Katy Daley, speaks highly of the IBMA and the opportunity that she had to attend the class and learn more about the bluegrass music business ….

“Fred Bartenstein serves as the facilitator and does a great job of keeping all 25 participants on point and on time. Fred sees to it that every person is heard and that no one person or group gets to dominate the conversation. You’re seated with different people during each session so that by the end of the week you’ve had a chance to get to know every attendee. Guest speakers stay and participate in the next ‘social’ activity, i.e., lunch, coffee break or dinner so you get a chance to talk with them on an informal basis. This networking was a very important part of the week for me.

It’s easy to go to work every day and repeat what’s worked in the past. The Leadership Bluegrass guest speakers were from all parts of the ‘bluegrass industry’ — performers, teachers, luthiers, lawyers, songwriters, public relations, agents/managers and media. I suppose the most obvious eye-opening topic is what’s going on in the digital world. But every speaker revealed methods and techniques they’re using now and discussed how they’re going to handle the trends they see coming. It made me think about how I could apply that information to my job and how it could polish up my act.

Guess you can tell I really got something out of it; can’t recommend it enough.”

Hannah Johnson, lead vocalist with UK group The Toy Hearts, is one of the participants this coming March and she is equally enthusiastic …….

“I am really, really excited about Leadership Bluegrass and feel very honoured to be involved in the program alongside such talented people within the industry, its going to be a very exciting week for me. After being at IBMA in September/October, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to get to go back so soon, it’s one of my very favourite places in the world! My university have been really supportive about giving me the time off, which is a good thing…

I’m still not sure exactly what to expect, I’m looking forward to reading some more on it… Everyone that I have spoken to that has participated has had a very positive experience, which has to be a bonus! All in all it is going to be a fantastic opportunity and I’m sure character building journey… I can’t wait.”

Peter Wernick (aka Dr Banjo), another attendee this year, has this to say ………..

“When Leadership Bluegrass started quite a few years back, I knew I would want to participate at some point. This is a good year to do it. The many changes in the role of recordings in the music industry have been a challenge to keep pace with, and the role of the internet keeps changing as well. The paradigms have really shifted in the last several years, so regardless of my experiences of the last forty years, I need to study the current scene and trends. My years in the business have taught me many lessons, but we all need to keep learning.

I already know quite a few of the other participants in this year’s program, includingformer members of the IBMA leadership, and am really looking forward to renewing our acquaintance and getting to know many people I’ve not met yet. I know these people have been carefully selected based on what they’ve done and their current involvement in bluegrass and the music industry. It should be a most useful and interesting time.”

The full list of participants for the forthcoming classes is as follows ……

  • John Abrams; The Abrams Brothers; Gananoque, Ontario, Canada
  • Linda Bonner; Grassland Elementary; Brentwood, Tenn.
  • Melonie Cannon; Artist/Songwriter; Goodlettsville, Tenn.
  • Danny Clark; MTSU student/ The Bluegrass Bus Museum; Goodlettsville, Tenn. (student monitor)
  • Larry Cordle; Lonesome Standard Time; Hendersonville, Tenn.
  • David Crow; Milom, Joyce, Horsnell & Crow PLC; Nashville, Tenn.
  • Lee Michael Demsey; WAMU-FM, Bluegrasscountry.org, Bluegrass Unlimited; Washington, D.C.
  • Brandi Hart; The Dixie Bee-Liners; Abingdon, Va.
  • Hannah Johnson; The Toy Hearts, Birmingham Univ. student; Birmingham, West Midlands, U.K.
  • Becky Johnson; WMMT-FM/ The Appalshop, Inc.; Whitesburg, Ky.
  • Gary J. Jolicoeur; WNRV Bluegrass Radio; Narrows, Va.
  • Karl Kersey; Fiddle and Pick; Pegram, Tenn.
  • Barry Mazor; Journalist/Author (No Depression, The Wall Street Journal); Nashville, Tenn.
  • Penni McDaniel; Hope River Entertainment, Rural Rhythm Records; Lawrenceville, Ga.
  • Janet McGarry; Diamond Productions PEI, Janet McGarry & Wildwood; Stratford, PE, Canada
  • C. Roger Moss; Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival; East Hartford, Conn.
  • David Preston; BMI; Nashville, Tenn.
  • Ronnie Reno; BlueHighways TV, Ronnie Reno & the Reno Tradition; Hendersonville, Tenn.
  • Leah Ross; Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion; Bristol, Va./Tenn.
  • Sammy Shelor; Lonesome River Band; Meadows of Dan, Va.
  • Tommy Sivert; Gold Tone Musical Instruments; Titusville, Fla.
  • Alan Tompkins; Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, Acoustic Music Camp; Dallas, Texas
  • Joe Weed; Musician, Music & Video Producer; Los Gatos, Cal
  • Pete Wernick; Dr. Banjo, Pete Wernick & Flexigrass; Pete & Joan Wernick, Hot Rize; Niwot, Colo.
  • Dwight Worden; San Diego Bluegrass Society, IBMA Board; Attorney; Del Mar, Calif.
  • Jim Van Cleve; Mountain Heart; Producer/Songwriter/Session Musician; Hendersonville, Tenn.

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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.