Overview of three IBMA Keynotes

Our friend Ted Lehmann has posted a nice overview of the Keynote presentations offered during the 2011 IBMA World of Bluegrass convention in Nashville. In a break from the past, IBMA hosted a trio of Keynotes this year instead of just one, scheduled amidst the daytime seminars in the convention center rather than following a large-scale, sit-down dinner.

We’ve had a bit to say about the second of the three Keynotes, an address delivered by Chris Pandolfi on September 27, but not about the two others Ted covers: a speech from Ronnie Reno on the 26th, and a panel discussion with members of Yonder Mountain String Band on the 28th.

As Ted has it…

“The third IBMA keynote presentation was made in the form of an interview of Yonder Mountain String Band’s Ben Kaufmann and Dave Johnston conducted by IBMA Board member Craig Havighurst. Yonder Mountain is one of the most wildly successful of the bluegrass derived jam bands. The band, based in Boulder, CO and consisting of the four traditional bluegrass instruments, plays to audiences at sold out venues around the country. Their music, strongly influenced by Del McCoury, the Osborne Brothers, Jimmy Martin, The Johnson Mountain Boys, and Bill Monroe as well as a other influences like punk and alternative rock, is uniquely their own. Some years ago Yonder Mountain had played at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass to a nearly empty room and said up front they had never felt embraced by the bluegrass community. This saddens them because they revere the bluegrass traditions from which they come, knowing and understanding the greats of our genre. However, they hold that not having been accepted has served to open a world of creativity to them and led to much of their success as they found and developed new audiences.”

He concludes thusly…

“I came away from the three keynote addresses filled with optimism and hope for the future of bluegrass music. My own experience has been that I learned backwards towards an appreciation for the contributions of the founders. With the help of people like Larry Stephenson, liking the Grascals has brought me to a new awareness for the carefully wrought sound of the Osborne Brothers, for instance. Similarly, yearly tutorials from Pete Wernick at his jam camps has strengthened my loyalty to Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, and, yes, even Jimmy Martin. I listen to these people with new ears now. I’m confident that the new electronic world we find ourselves in has plenty of room for the jam bands and the traditionalists, and the more they find and appreciate each other, the stronger all will be. And we never can predict what the next step will be. We can know, however, that the music which is good and true, which appeals to people’s hearts and minds will survive and thrive.”

Read Ted’s full piece online.

Here’s video of the Yonder Mountain interview.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.