Greetings from Scotland, after just concluding our tour of Ireland.
It seems that every year someone somewhere is predicting the end of the world, and it’s usually fairly close to IBMA World of Bluegrass time. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Below is one I wrote after one such prediction, suggesting two different possible approaches to the last IBMA WOB ever. For baseball fans, note that the reference to the Mets being in first place is proof that this is a rerun (sorry).
I can’t delve too far into the specifics of it, but apparently the world is ending at the end of the month, more-or-less exactly in the middle of the IBMA World of Bluegrass, possibly during the Momentum Awards luncheon (I’d eat the dessert first). As I said, I don’t want to get too specific, because for one thing I’m not much of an eschatological dude (I’ve just always wanted to write “eschatological dude” somewhere sometime, and now it’s done), and for another, I’d have to read up on it, and who has the time? If the world is really ending, I have a lot of old bluegrass LPs that I need to alphabetize while I still can. This is what I’m hearing, though, and I thought it my duty to pass it on.
There was similar alarm a few years ago when the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world. It didn’t happen, and I haven’t been on speaking terms with any Mayans ever since. It turned out to be nothing but a calendar-selling scam.
This one has even more people spooked, though. To make a long story short, the fourth total lunar eclipse, or “blood moon” within a single year’s time will take place on September 28th, the eve of the start of the World of Bluegrass Business conference. The fact that it’s also during the Jewish feast day Sukkot, translated by some as “Feast of Tabernacles,” is especially significant. This is only the eighth time in recorded history that these events have coincided, and the first time it’s ever happened while the New York Mets were in first place. It’s pretty big.
Some have predicted that a giant asteroid will come and take us all out (even stronger incentive to keep the IBMA Awards Show on schedule). NASA says no, but what do they know? They scoff at the idea of UFOs and I just saw one last night, or I dreamed about one and that’s almost the same thing.
So the question arises, how would you conduct yourself if this were the last IBMA World of Bluegrass ever? To start with, I can’t think of a better reason to scrap whatever plans you had, snap up your tickets and go. “Maybe next year” may not apply this time around.
Would you take the hedonistic course and just treat it like the last major bluegrass event where anything you do would carry no earthly consequences at all? (some people treat all bluegrass events this way anyway, it turns out) Or, on the other hand, would you see it as a time to make amends, spread love, focus on what truly matters, and look to the eternal ramifications of your actions. Clearly these would be two very different game plans.
Here are some possible either/or plans you might want to consider for a possible final IBMA World of Bluegrass:
Eat and drink sparingly, donating the money you would have spent to downtown Raleigh’s homeless so that their last few days can be a little better. Do some jamming, but concentrate on the fellowship opportunity, encouraging some younger or shyer musicians to join in.
Or binge eat and drink (if your finances and the steep Sheraton and Marriott prices permit), and sleep even less than you have in past years, that is to say none at all. Pick all night, every night. This is likely to be the last time in your life you get to play Big Mon for 20 minutes straight. Try to put together your dream combination of musicians for a secret jam behind locked doors. Try to get everybody to play only the songs you want to do. It’s your dream, after all.
Do something unexpectedly kind for someone in the bluegrass community you don’t know very well.
Or, kidnap Bill Knowlton, then wear his clothes for the rest of the week.
See the IBMA Awards in a new light, shedding any cynicism you may have brought to the event about industry politics, low voter participation, or the length of the show, instead really listening to each acceptance speech, feeling genuinely happy for the people who have been recognized for their work.
Or, crash the stage, Kanye West-style and snatch an award away from someone you thought wasn’t deserving. Since the world is ending, the trophy is useless anyway so just drop-kick it into the audience.
Attend all the seminars you can in order to absorb a few last kernels of wisdom about the business, and as a way of showing support for those who are willing to lead them, even in the earth’s final hours.
Or, storm into each seminar, yelling, “Put a sock in it! None of this matters anymore, people!! If it ever did!”
Attend the Town Hall Meeting, walk up to the microphone, addressing the IBMA Board of Directors, and say, “I love each one of you. Thank you for taking your valuable time to give back to this organization the best way you knew how.”
Or, attend the Town Hall Meeting, March up to the Board of Directors, yelling, “you all have failed completely, and apparently all you want from me is my membership money, so here it is and then some!” Then leave a lawn and leaf bagful of cash (your life’s savings) in front of them, saying “you happy now?”
As an IBMA board member, you dutifully attend the Town Hall Meeting, listening with love and understanding to each concern or complaint from members, even though you know that after this week it won’t matter at all.
Or, you take the tomato you carefully saved from yesterday’s lunch, and hurl it at the guy who came up to yell at you, adding, “same to you, pal!” Then take his bag of cash and distribute it among downtown Raleigh’s homeless.