More conversations from the bench

This post is a contribution from Terri Holloway, one of our 2010 IBMA correspondents. See her profile here.

We had so much fun yesterday talking with people walking by that we thought we’d try it again today. This bench is located right outside the Exhibit Hall main doors, so everyone who’s anyone (which is all of us, isn’t it?) eventually comes by. Some even visited for a spell.

One of the many vendors (there’s 48 listed in the conference book) verified that yesterday’s observation about lowered attendance figures was not off the mark. But, he said, his company wasn’t at this exhibition to make money. They were here to make a presence and he thought that every one of the vendors was committed to that same principle, and would agree with him.

Bluegrass really is a large family. And, like family gatherings, happy reunions were again taking place, this time at the doorway and not just in the aisles. Laughter was the common language today.

The gig fair, happening at the back of the Exhibit Hall, appeared to be more like speed dating. Each prospect was given seven minutes to perfect their pitch with venues. At the end of the time a loud bell rang throughout the hall, reminding band members that there were other tables to visit.

One of the great things about sitting on the bench was the opportunity to talk with everyone coming by. Greg Falls, the self-proclaimed Convention Center facilities go-to guy said, “this is so cool!” He liked getting the free CD’s some of the vendors and musicians were giving away. He’s excited to see all the people and how much fun everyone seems to be having but advised that I would probably want to not be around at 5:00 because, he said, “it’ll really jammin’ in here!”

Harry Grant was overheard talking about putting new musicians into the local music scene on a last minute basis to give them a chance to be heard. He’s coming in to invite everyone to come down and support these potentially emerging artists.

Guys (and a lady or two) who looked important were hovering around the doorway with cell phones sounding really important. Interesting to watch and try not to eavesdrop. (But, you know, when you’re loudly carrying on a conversation it’s a bit hard not to overhear.)

Four year old Owen Snyder, part of the musical Snyder family (he’s learning to play classical guitar) thinks of this year’s conference “it’s really good.”

“It’s a great bluegrass event with amazing opportunities” said young Samantha Snyder the family’s dynamite fiddle player.

Big brother Zeb says, “I like getting in the jam sessions. It’s fun seeing all the people that you know and connecting with friends.” When asked if he’s been staying up late jamming he replied that he’s planning on doing that tonight. He rested up on Monday, and played at an official showcase last night, so tonight will be his night to howl, said dad, Bud.

Two radio guys were discussing what to do about the DJ taping session scheduled tomorrow. Apparently, it’s being held in the back corner of the Exhibit Hall, and they were lamenting on how it’s not really going to work very well for broadcast quality interviews.

Royce Sorensen, a multi-instrumentalist with several gospel groups in Eau Claire WI, is enjoying the conference and will be taking home lessons on saving his voice (one of the workshops held this morning) along with a Skaggs Family Records hoodie, “I’m finally going to have cool clothes like my teen-aged son,” he said. “Bluegrass rules” is his favorite slogan this year he said as he walked away to answer the phone.

Ira Gitlin, a Leadership Bluegrass alumni, from Alexandria VA, visited about that program and thinks that the Leadership Bluegrass is great for those who attend. He plays with local DC bands, and teaches private lessons. He’s now one of Pete Wernick’s certified teachers, and he’ll begin using these teaching concepts within the next few weeks. He’s testing the office procedures for Wernick and will be following the curriculum in order to report back how well it works. He’s been using many of the concepts for a while now in his own teaching of slow jams.

Neil Rosenberg, member of the IBMA Board of Directors, came over, all grins. He’d just had a really exciting meeting about Bluegrass Nation, he said. It was about “Connecting the world of bluegrass in a way it’s never been connected before. It’s about the expansion of electronic networking.” When asked about the human touch, he replied that, “Face to face networking is what’s happening here, and at the association level.” Board leadership wants to bring people to the association events. “Younger people depend on electronic networks to get them to events,” he continued, “and we need to get to them.”

Larry Stephenson stopped by for a chat. He’s enjoying the conference as well this year. Because he lives here he’s in and out, and isn’t attending many of the workshops. His latest project, released earlier this year, is up for awards with two songs competing against each other in the same category. When asked which one would win, he said that his hope is that one of them will win. “I’m just glad to be part of it all [the events this week] and in amongst ’em. It’s an album I’m proud of and and organization I’m happy to be part of.” Next on the horizon is to stay as busy as he can making music and is at the talking stage about recording a new project in the coming year.

Fellow correspondent Dr. Tom Bibey walked by and said he’s, “Telling everybody I can about my book, the Mandolin Case.” In addition to being a blogger, Tom’s got a booth in the Hall this year.