On this day in 1990 …..

The British Bluegrass Music Association (BBMA) was formed.

“Reacting to an initiative by Mal Salisbury, a group of 10 British bluegrass music enthusiasts gathered together at the George & Dragon Inn, Much Wenlock, Shropshire, on Saturday, November 3, to discuss ways of improving the promotion of bluegrass music in Britain. In order that a co-ordinated approach can be adopted it was considered appropriate to form our own federation, to be known as the British Bluegrass Music Association.

From whatever perspective, be it that of a festival organiser, club show promoter, musician, tour organiser, journalist or fan, we share common aims and objectives. While, individually, we are doing our best to further interest in bluegrass music in Britain, and all efforts are to be applauded, we lack a focal point. The establishment of the British Bluegrass Music Association will ensure that we are united in the cause. The organisation does not seek to interfere with individual projects but provide a strong body that will tackle some of the problems, such as seeking sponsorship, for example, that we have not been able to solve on our own.

British Bluegrass News is happy to serve as a mouthpiece for the British Bluegrass Music Association – this is typical of the spirit of co-operation that was evident at the founders’ meeting and that the British Bluegrass Music Association hopes to further engender. In addition to this announcement, news reports of further meetings of the British Bluegrass Music Association will appear in future issues of British Bluegrass News.”

The three paragraphs above were part of the official announcement of the formation of the BBMA, as published in the December 1990 edition (Volume 13, Number 1) of British Bluegrass News (BBN) magazine.

The founding members are:

  • Mal Salisbury (Ironbridge Festival organiser),
  • Pete Wraith (Ironbridge and Yorkshire Dales Festival organiser),
  • Tom Travis (Edale Festival organiser),
  • John Prytherch (North Wales Festival organiser),
  • Jan Jerrold (BBN, co-Editor / tour promoter)
  • Richard Thompson (BBN, News Lines / International Country Music News)
  • John and Richard Collins (Fingers and Co)
  • Rick Townend (TSB / Bluegrass Ramblers)
  • Simon Meredith (journalist / consultant)

Unable to be present was founder and co-editor of BBN, Phill Morley, who agreed to transfer the ownership of BBN to the BBMA.

Mal Salisbury was chosen to be the association’s first chairperson.

The BBMA was styled after the International Bluegrass Music Association, then five years old, until it agreed on its own constitution.

The original BBMA logo was designed by John Les.

The current chairperson is John Wirtz.

For further information about the BBMA visit the organisation’s website.

NB – None of the founding members are associated with the festivals or publications mentioned above. Jan Jerrold passed away on August 18, 1993.

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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.