A lot of folks are wondering how the IBMA will host their major World of Bluegrass events this year, since COVID-19 restrictions have made assembling in Raleigh at the end of September impossible. They intend to go ahead with all aspects of the business conference, absent communal meals, of course, but things will be done differently for online participation.
The 2020 IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards will be held as scheduled, October 1 at 7:30 p.m. (EDT), but as a live stream event simulcast on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction. Everything will be pre-recorded, pieced together from hosts, presentations, and performances captured at a variety of locations. Recipients will be revealed during the show, which will be streamlined for the sake of the online audience, probably to the overall benefit of the presentation. Critics have long noted that the length of the annual awards show worked against the simple joy we all take in seeing our music and its artists portrayed in such a gala and festive manner.
There will be no charge to watch the live stream, which will be broadcast through the main WOB portal online, with donations being sought for the IBMA Trust Fund which has already set aside $150,000 to assist members during the performance shutdowns.
For the Bluegrass Ramble showcases, normally held at the Raleigh Convention Center and at a number of nearby clubs and restaurants, they will likewise be streamed on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings during World of Bluegrass week (September 28-30), and on that Thursday afternoon. These will also be pre-recorded live sets featuring the 30 official showcase acts announced earlier this year.
There will be no charge to watch these performances, again with donations to the Trust Fund requested. For people who wonder how they can help out their favorite bands and artists, outside of buying their music online, there is probably not a much better way to help than a Trust Fund donation.
It appears that the only part of the virtual World of Bluegrass that will require a registration will be the business seminars, constituency meetings, and the like typically held in morning and afternoon sessions Tuesday through Thursday. All of these will be presented using Zoom or some similar sort of video conferencing application so that registrants can participate wherever they may be.
IBMA has said that this registration fee will be scaled back this year, but the actual price has not been announced.
Uncharted territory for all of us!