IBMA week 2013 brought about many new changes to bluegrass’ signature event. In addition to being the first World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, this was the first WOB for Taylor Coughlin, IBMA’s Publications/Special Projects Director. I had the opportunity to chat this week with Taylor about WOB 2013.
DM: In addition to being the first year IBMA has been in Raleigh, this was your first WOB week ever, correct? What were your first impressions on bluegrass as a community following your first WOB?
TC: I knew the bluegrass community was a warm and accepting one; I felt that immediately when I joined the staff at IBMA. The feeling of being welcome and part of something bigger was amplified during World of Bluegrass, and I am proud to work for a community such as bluegrass.
DM: How do you feel the city of Raleigh handled their first year of hosting WOB?
TC: If it were physically possible, I would give the city of Raleigh a giant high-five. They wholeheartedly embraced the event, as well as the bluegrass community, and made us all feel so welcome and special. I felt like bluegrass really had a home in Raleigh, and think it probably will for quite some time.
DM: Other than the location, there were several major changes during IBMA week this year. One of these was the new format for late night showcases, dubbed The Bluegrass Ramble. How do you think The Bluegrass Ramble was received, and what changes (if any) do you think IBMA will make regarding The Ramble for next year?
TC: As with any change, we expect some objections, but the ones I heard have been concerns we can easily address, such as transportation to, between, and from the venues. I think it gave the showcase bands an opportunity to truly showcase their versatility as well as their talent. Personally, I had fun with the variety of venues, and was happily overwhelmed with planning my nightly Ramble schedule. The Steel Wheels were my take-away band. And who didn’t love Del at the Lincoln?
DM: There were also many changes to Fan Fest, which is now called Wide Open Bluegrass. The festival seemed to be a HUGE success. What were some of the changes IBMA made, which you feel aided to the success of Wide Open Bluegrass?
TC: Wide Open Bluegrass turned the whole week up to 11, in my opinion. With the addition of the free Street Festival, and the exhibit hall being open to the public, we were able to interest the residents of Raleigh and the surrounding communities, and hopefully welcome new bluegrass lovers and IBMA members to the bluegrass community. The lineup for Wide Open Bluegrass was something I am very proud of.
DM: After how successful last week was, how does IBMA plan to build on this momentum when looking ahead to Raleigh 2014?
TC: It’s a little too soon to say! At the moment, we’re still unpacking our boxes, catching up on sleep, and recovering from live-bluegrass-everywhere withdrawals. But we hope to build this momentum by increasing our membership, increasing our overall exposure within the music industry, and continuing to make IBMA a valuable resource for the bluegrass music industry.
DM: Personally, what was the highlight of the week for you? Whether a special moment or performance, what was your favorite moment (or moments!) of IBMA week 2013?
TC: I will never forget being in huddled in the wings of the Memorial Auditorium with Ronnie McCoury on one side of me and Noam Pikelny on the other (they probably didn’t know I was there), and listening to Tony Rice’s Hall of Fame induction speech. At first, I heard Tony’s raspy, barely-there voice, and then all of a sudden, a rich baritone voice spoke up. I thought someone else had gone onstage during his speech, but when I realized it was Tony, I got goosebumps and tears. I felt so honored to be there in that moment.
Kudos to Taylor and all of the IBMA staff who made this, arguably, the best WOB ever! I’m already looking forward to next year.