Bluegrass music is summertime music; bluegrass festivals sprout all over the country in the summer, generally outdoors and usually featuring fan participation in the form of "parking lot jams." Amateur and professional bluegrass bands alike spend the summer traveling from festival to festival and the winter working on new material.
In between, they come to Louisville for the IBMA's World of Bluegrass Trade Show and Fan Fest. This year, the Trade show and Fest will be at the Galt House on October 19-25.
The Trade Show, which runs the first four days of the week, is for those in the business and those who would like to be. Exhibitors' booths fill several rooms in the Galt House and, for the real bluegrass fan, the Trade Show offers a chance to get up close and personal with some of their favorite players, as well as some folks not so well known. With representation ranging from instrument manufacturers and dealers to record companies to artists hawking their CDs, the Trade Show rooms will be filled with fans, schmoozers and networking artists and label staff the entire four days of the Trade Show..
In addition to the exhibitions, there will be workshops and seminars, plus showcases featuring some twenty-four bluegrass acts at various times during the four-day show. The Songwriter Showcase will be reprised from last year, offering new bluegrass songs for artists and record companies. Radio DJs will have a chance to record station I.D.s and interviews with some of the biggest bluegrass stars.
For bluegrass fans, however, the high point of the week is undeniably the Bluegrass Fan Fest. Billed as the "grand finale" of the summer festival season, the Fan Fest will offer more than forty of the genre's best performers in an orgy of picking that lasts for three days. Scheduled for October 23-25, in the 5,000 seat Grand Ballroom of the Galt House Hotel, it's a celebration, a homecoming and a test of the stamina of hardiest of the 10,000 artists and bluegrass fans who will travel from around the world for this event.
The line-up of acts set to perform include Alison Krauss & Union Station; The Del McCoury Band; IIIrd Tyme Out; The Lonesome River Band; Charlie Waller & The Country Gentlemen; J.D. Crowe & The New South; John Hartford; Tom T. Hall; Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder; Blue Highway; The James King Band; Rhonda Vincent & The Rage; Front Range; David Grier; Mark Schatz & Friends and many others.
The Fan Fest is also a benefit event, which assists the IBMA's efforts to promote bluegrass music and to finance the Bluegrass Trust Fund, which was established to help individuals within the bluegrass music industry in time of emergency need. All of the acts performing at the festival donate their time and talent. The Martin Guitar Company is the national sponsor for the weekend event.
Three-days tickets to the Fan Fest cost $50 at the gate and single-day and Saturday night tickets are also available.
Besides the high-wattage display of star power on the main stage, the Roots & Branches Stage will return to the festival this year. This stage will feature styles of acoustic music, both traditional and progressive, that have a close relationship to bluegrass. For the ultra-traditionalists, there will be an Old-Time Music Dance on Saturday night
Other events include Masters workshops scheduled throughout the weekend, where fans can get instruction and demonstrations from leading bluegrass players, as well as a Songwriters Workshop, a Youth Workshop, Tributes to Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley, and, finally, an event billed as "Live Bluegrass Karaoke." Some lucky fans will get to get onstage and sing a bluegrass standard with a live bluegrass band called The Sidemen backing them up. It certainly beats tapes.
Of course, there will be lots of opportunities to spend money. More than two dozen merchandisers of music-related items will be on hand, and there will be an array of food concessions provided through the Galt House.
Fans can book themselves into the Galt House and other nearby hotels or camp at one of four campgrounds in the area. Many attenders at last year's event were happy that the show was inside, in an air-conditioned environment.
Even traditionalists like to be comfortable.
For more information or to register for all or some of the events, contact the IBMA at 1-888-GET-IBMA, or write them at 207 E. 2nd St., Owensboro, KY 42303.
Friday, Oct. 23:
12:30 "School Daze," featuring students from South
Plains College, East Tennessee State University,
Wheeling Park High School Bluegrass Club. The
Wise Village Pickers from Stanton Elementary
School & Ryan Holladay
1:25 Tom T. Hall
2:20 Hazel Dickens, Carol Elizabeth Jones & Ginny Hawker
3:15 The James King Band
4:10 John Hartford
5:05 Charlie Waller & The Country Gentlemen
5:50 (dinner break)
6:50... Larry Stephenson Band
7:45 Alison Krauss & Union Station
8:40 The Del McCoury Band
9:35 Lonesome River Band
10:30 Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
Saturday, Oct. 24:
10:45 The Bluegrass Pentathlon: A Fan Participation Event
11:30 Lilly Of The West
12:25 Judith Edelman Band
1:20 Special Consensus
2:15 Crucial Smith
3:10 The Stevens Sisters
3:55 Bluegrass Pentathlon Finals
4:10 Front Range
5:05 The Flattheads - Tim O'Brien, Jeff White, Mark Schatz & friends
6:50 Blue Highway
7:45 Rhonda Vincent & The Rage
8:40 IIIrd Tyme Out
9:35 Special Presentation & Raffle Drawing
9:55 J.D. Crowe & The New South
10:50 Bill Emerson, Mark Newton, Cliff Waldron & Friends
Sunday, Oct. 25:
11:00 The Churchmen
11:55 Paul Williams & Victory Trio
12:50 Curly Seckler
1:45 Suzanne Thomas
2:40 Gary Ferguson Band
3:35 The Jim Buchanan Experience
4:30 The Sidemen