Seminars at IBMA 2013

Laurie Lewis and Murphy Henry at the Women In Bluegrass seminar during IBMA 2013 - photo by Tara LinhardtIBMA’s World of Bluegrass gives folks many chances to meet and learn from others in the industry, both from experts on panels and just chances to mix, mingle and swap stories with other musicians, broadcasters, mangers, and festival promoters.

I attended a few of the seminars where I learned things, and got new ideas to chew on in each one.

All sorts of topics were covered, like grant writing, getting radio or internet play, using new forms of media, getting gigs, song publishing, among them. One of the more popular seminars this year was headed up by Murphy Henry who brought together a panel of female musicians to discuss some of the concepts in her new book, Pretty Good For A Girl. I am happy to report that the room was well represented with both men and women in attendance. Some good points were brought up, questions pondered, and stories told.

My favorite seminar yet again, I have to say was headed up by Tony Williamson. He has an amazing collection of delectable vintage instruments and also knows a phenomenal amount about the instruments, their history, and bluegrass history in general. The last two years he has had amazing seminars on the instruments of bluegrass and their history, combined with hot jammin’ on the ones he was discussing.

Last year it focused on many vintage mandolins (particularly Lloyd Loar histories), and this year he mixed in history, examples and music on the banjo and guitar as well. He had Jim Mills on the panel giving loads of cool histories and details of the banjo, and Chris Elderidge on old pre-war guitars. I highly recommend his talks to anyone interested in what we play and why they are the way they are, or what type of instrument was actually used by whom and when.

Tony isn’t dry at all either. He has so much fun talking about this musical ear candy, and bluegrass history is so full of funny stories, that it is hard not to get excited about all the instruments in the room right along with him.

Here are a few clips so you can pick up a few things too.

In this first one he tries to get as close as possible to using the “right instruments” that were used in the old famous recordings of Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, and Lester Flatt and they jam on some Bluegrass Breakdown.


In this next, they discuss Lloyd Loar mandolins and how they got help from Henry Ford’s idea on car paint methods, and how Loar influenced banjo development too with ball bearing and cast tone ring banjos, just to mention a few topics they covered.