The IBMA has arrived at its final slate of seminars for the World of Bluegrass this year, and though it hasn’t yet been released to the public, I have been able to obtain an advance copy. I guess I should clarify that I obtained an advance copy that was then replaced by a new advance copy a few days later because apparently the first advance copy had some glaring omissions. Why mess with a tried-and-true pattern?
I must say that the education committee deserves our praise for breaking out of some of the ruts these seminar topics had fallen into. “Improving your bluegrass radio show” and “Designing a better website” are important, I know, but in order to attract new people to the trade show, I think it was important to take a new approach in some of these areas. Below are some of the seminar topics that I found particularly interesting. I plan to attend as many of these (that aren’t scheduled before 10:00 a.m.) that I possibly can.
Here’s one that helps bluegrass artists solve one of the most difficult social challenges they face:
“Putting on the pounds, aren’t you? You’re a lot thinner on this CD cover!” Coming up with just the right comeback to rude statements at your band merchandise table — Strategies for fielding unsolicited comments about your weight, your grey hair, your band’s personnel instability, your marital issues, and more. Learn how to come up with a subtly stinging reply without resorting to trading insults or punching potential customers.
Side musicians and band members constantly struggle with the best way to leave a band:
“It’s not you, it’s me” — Exit strategies for band members — Panelists will discuss the smoothest ways to give notice to your band, and ways to insulate yourself from the inevitable guilt trip that follows. Also discussed: how to fire band members while making them believe they’re quitting of their own volition.
Everyone loves a good lifestyle advice seminar:
The road diet: choosing the right gas station food at 3:00 a.m.— A panel of guest nutritionists, and musicians who have survived years of road food, offer tips like, “pork rinds and Bugles form a complete protein chain when eaten together,” and “most of what we thought we knew about the glazed doughnut is nutritionally wrong.”
A topic not discussed nearly enough: how to become a true bluegrass blowhard:
“And then Jimmy Martin spilled his cup on my shoes” — tips on how to spin a good bluegrass yarn — Participants will learn how to gather a crowd at any event by telling bluegrass music tales, whether or not they were actually there. Also, learn the art of exaggerating just enough to hold people’s interest yet not so much as to make your story unbelievable. Other topics include how to speak in such a way that all your sentences run together insuring that no one else can interject anything or walk away from you.
Here’s some truly valuable advice: tips on how to look more successful than you really are:
Conspicuous consumption on the cheap — Financially struggling bluegrass artists and aging country music stars join the panel to discuss ways to appear that you’re really making it big, even if you’re living month-to-month. Tips will include how to find the right knock-off designer shades, how to refer to any vehicle, from a Sprinter to a 1991 Dodge Neon as “the bus,” and how to refer to anyone who gives you professional assistance as “my team.”
If I part company at all with the seminar choices, it’s only with a few that had titles that I thought were unnecessarily harsh:
Your radio show stinks! — tips on how to be a more professional and engaging bluegrass broadcaster, because you certainly need it
And, a seasoned web developer leads this pointed seminar:
You call that a website? What is this, 1998? Tips for wayyyy better-looking and more user-friendly websites for bluegrass artists
The songwriting track has some new and informative features, too. One is a seminar on how to wrangle 50% co-writing credit after just changing the word “a” to “the” in the third verse. Another is an event in which recording artists are actually chained to a chair while ten different songwriters (chosen by lottery) pitch them their songs. A legal expert will also lead a seminar in how to sue yourself for reusing your own melody.
I can’t wait for Raleigh!