SPBGMA Nashville 2020 Kickoff

Like any bluegrass event, the first night is a little slow with vendor setup, friends getting reacquainted, scattered jamming, and shortened exhibition and concert hours. The 46th Annual SPBGMA Bluegrass Music Awards & 37th National Convention & Band Championship in Nashville is no exception, but by the end of Thursday night, it was ramping up. Attendees and bands from across the region and from as far away as Texas and Oklahoma were filling up the parking lot in anticipation of the full weekend schedule.

The Kevin Prater Band topped off a varied Thursday night concert lineup to a less than full, but very appreciative audience. Their soaring harmonies were more bittersweet than usual as Kevin announced he had just buried his mother earlier in the day. Other performers included the McLain Family Band, High Fidelity, Deeper Shade of Blue, Donna Ulisse and the Poor Mountain Boys, and Jeanette & Johnny Williams. Jamming was lively in the lobby and surrounding areas, but less so on the hotel floors which are sure to be packed with all-night jamming the rest of the weekend.

Friday’s schedule has the exhibition hall opening at 10:00 a.m., the free songwriters workshop at noon followed by a full lineup of shows starting at 4:20 including Sideline, Remington Ryde, Firebox Bluegrass Band, Catahoula Drive, The Farm Hands, the Kody Norris Show, David Davis & the Warrior River Boys, ending with the Country Gentleman Tribute Band at 9:00 p.m.

Saturday starts at 9:00 a.m. with the early rounds of the International Band Championship which continues all day. The afternoon includes shows from The Farm Hands, Carolina Blue, and ShadowGrass. After a 5:30 dinner break, there are more great shows from Carson Peters and Iron Mountain, Larry Stephenson Band, Alan Bibey and Grasstowne, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and closing out with Special Consensus.

The incredibly busy Sunday schedule includes a full-day banjo workshop with Greg Cahill, Raymond McLain, Steve Huber, and Jack Hatfield from 9:00 to 4:00. Also in the morning is a promoters meeting and a Gospel concert featuring Jeanette and Johnny Williams, The Punches, and Nick Chandler & Delivered. Sunday afternoon starts with the finals of the International Band Competition followed by a show from the 2019 IBC Champions, The Family Sowell. Wrapping up before dinner is the 2020 SPBGMA IBC Cash Award Presentation and then, of course, the star-studded awards show starting at 6:30 hosted by Tim Graves & The Farm Hands. The 2020 Preservation Hall Inductee is Greg Cahill, and featured performers will be the Lonesome River Band, Nothin’ Fancy, Grascals, and the Farm Hands.

Download the updated program for the full weekend schedule.

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About the Author

Dave Berry

Dave Berry is a California based author, mandolin picker, and composer who writes the California Report column for Bluegrass Today. He grew up in the Ohio Valley right between where the Big Sandy and Big Scioto rivers dump into the Ohio. His articles, Morning Walk album, and video are available on streaming sites and his website at daveberrymusic.net