Leadership Bluegrass 2009 Review

Leadership Bluegrass 2009Leadership Bluegrass 2009 took place earlier this month in Nashville, Tennessee, and the class of 26 participants examined such topics as The State of the Industry and a Profile of the Bluegrass Consumer, Songwriting and Publishing, Getting Music to Consumers and The Artist’s Team.

I sought the views of two graduates from the Class of 2009.

Firstly, was Hannah Johnson, the lead vocalist and mandolin player with the British bluegrass band, The Toy Hearts. She was particularly effusive about the three day event …

"What can I possibly say to start to try and articulate what an immense and awesome time I had at Leadership Bluegrass! I researched quite a lot into the course and spoke to some past class members so I think the course kinda matched my expectations…. to try and describe, the three days of Leadership Bluegrass were very intense, immensely enjoyable, extremely informative, a platform for innovative thinking/idea sharing and the chance to forge what I am sure will be long-lasting friendships with multiple fellow bluegrassers from across the US and Canada.

For me personally, as an artist, I have 19 pages of notes that I now need to work through and formulate into some sort of action plan…. To pinpoint specifically, I know I have learned an awful lot about the technological side of promoting and marketing a band… to embrace the ways in which the music industry as a whole is changing and indeed, maximise on the modernising capabilities of bluegrass music to help elevate its success as a genre.

I know that Leadership Bluegrass has been an invaluable tool to help further my career in bluegrass and I would highly recommend the course to anyone!"

Similarly, WAMU/bluegrasscountry.org presenter and compiler of the Bluegrass Unlimited survey, Lee Michael Demsey was full of praise …….

"The Leadership Bluegrass course was a very good one. Everyone seemed to get a lot out of it. Having class members with such different backgrounds, life experiences and points of view was certainly a big plus. Age and geography played a part in that. We had several folks who have served on IBMA’s board, including myself, and we also had a number of young people who gave us a realistic, futuristic look at where things might be going in our industry. The three day event paraded before us a gaggle of experts in various fields of the business, in most cases doing 45 minute presentations on one topic or another. Some were better than others, naturally, but all were interesting. Whether any given topic pertained directly to your endeavors in bluegrass, there was valuable information presented that we could all gain from. There was time for networking too, some rekindling of old friendships and more importantly some new friendships and business relationships forged. It’s nice to be part of the club.

I’m not sure I can pinpoint specific ways that the knowledge I gained at the event will change the way I present myself and conduct my business on a moment by moment basis. I’d say I feel much better informed on issues though, and I can surely serve my part of the bluegrass community better, having that clearer perspective. I also look at the whole Leadership Bluegrass experience as a shot of adrenaline."

Congratulations to all participants of the class of 2009

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

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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.