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Vector Management Adds Nathan Stanley to Roster

Thu, 11/27/2014 - 22:04

Nashville, TN -- Rising bluegrass prodigy Nathan Stanley has recently joined the Ken Levitan co-founded Vector Management roster for representation. Following his "Bluegrass Album of the Year" win at the 2014 Dove Awards, Nathan Stanley is gearing up for an exciting New Year. At just 22 years old, the Virginia native now joins his Grandfather, Dr. Ralph Stanley as the newest member of the Vector Management roster.

"I'm very honored to be working with such a prestigious management company," says Nathan Stanley. "The team at Vector is wonderful and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for not just me, but my grandfather as well."

Nathan Stanley, along with The Clinch Mountain Boys travel year-round, bringing their soulful/bluegrass style to different audiences around the world. Nathan has traveled over 200 dates per year since he was two years old. He got his start playing the spoons, and is now the lead singer of The Clinch Mountain Boys.

Nathan has established himself as one of the top artists in the genre, being called the "Prince of Bluegrass." His latest album, Every Mile, includes collaborations with Vince Gill, Sonya Issacs Yeary & Becky Issacs Bowman, Adam Crabb, T Graham Brown, and more.

Vector Management is one of the most formidable artist, lifestyle and brand management companies in the entertainment business today. Led by co-presidents Ken Levitan and Jack Rovner, the staff has a tremendous depth of experience in both management and talent development. Having worked with some of the most iconic artists, chefs and public figures in the world, the Vector team is known for their ability to build a career trajectory that allows their clients to stand the test of time. With Levitan and Rovner's 360o vision, Vector draws specialists from all areas of the entertainment business to build innovative, strategic campaigns that include marketing, publicity, touring, social media, sponsorships, endorsements and licensing. With offices in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles and London, the Vector team leverages its internal resources to manage all aspects of their clients' careers.

Tags: Nathan StanleyVector ManagementBusinessPromotion

Birthplace of Country Music Museum Films Recognized at Peer Awards

Thu, 11/27/2014 - 22:03

Two films featured in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum achieved honors during the Television, Internet and Video Association of DC (TIVA-DC) Peer Awards at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on November 8.

Bound to Bristol won the Peer Gold Award for a Documentary (Under 30 Minutes). The film — narrated by John Carter Cash (son of June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash and grandson of Maybelle Carter) — explores the making of the 1927 Bristol Sessions. Bound to Bristol is the first film experience visitors encounter in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum's Orientation Theater before they continue their tour of the facility.

The oral history film, I Was There, secured the Peer Silver Award for Motion Graphics 2D/3D Animation at TIVA-DC. I Was There is an oral history film featuring firsthand accounts from people who took part in the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings. Located among the museum's core exhibits as an interactive display, the film allows visitors to hear more about the Bristol Sessions through the archived voices of Ralph Peer, Maybelle Carter, Ernest "Pop" Stoneman, Clarice Shelor, and Georgia Warren. Bound to Bristol and I Was There were produced by multi-media firm Hillmann & Carr Incorporated, located in Washington, DC.

TIVA-DC is a non-profit organization formed to serve the needs of the growing Washington/Baltimore media production community.

Birthplace of Country Music and Appalshop are teaming up to bring Documenting Appalachia: An Appalshop Film Series to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum December 1— February 28. The series will run on a weekly basis in conjunction with The Carter Family: Lives and Legacies special exhibit. Film series if free with the price of admission to the museum.

Sunny Side of Life, Sourwood Mountain Dulcimers, From Wood to Singing Guitar, Hazel Dickens: It's Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song, Quilting Women, The Ralph Stanley Story, Strangers and Kin: A History of the Hillbilly Image, and His Eye is on the Sparrow will be screened in the Performance Theater of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

Special Event Screenings will also be held for each of the eight films and will feature speakers, concert performances and panel discussions prior to each screening.

Based in the town of Whitesburg in eastern Kentucky, Appalshop is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary arts and education center which has consistently produced some of the best documentary films on Appalachian music and culture.

"Appalshop has been doing great work for decades," says Thomas Richardson, curator of education and outreach at Birthplace of Country Music Museum. "When we opened the Museum we asked ourselves, who do we want to partner with that's doing similar work, and doing it really well? Appalshop was one obvious answer."

For detailed information about the films, schedule and Special Event Screenings, visit www.BirthplaceofCountryMusic.org. All of the films in the Documenting Appalachia series are available for sale in The Museum Store at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and online at shop.appalshop.org.

Tags: Birthplace of Country Music MuseumFilmAppalachiaAward

Sibling Rivalry Between Bluegrass and Old-Time is Just Part of Being Family

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 22:59

By Guest Columnist James Reams
Thanksgiving ? it’s not a lukewarm kind of holiday. You either look forward to it or you dread it. For me, I love the food…and especially the pies! I remember Dad was always in charge of the turkey and he had this special electric porcelain oven that he used solely for the purpose of putting out the best tasting bird in the county. And, not to be outdone, Mom would spend days making pumpkin pies from REAL pumpkins. Most kids nowadays probably never had the pleasure of scooping out the soft, creamy pumpkin innards that are then magically transformed into that traditional delight for young and old. Oh man, I’m drooling just at the thought of it!

But for a lot of folks, getting together with the whole fam damily can be a recipe for disaster. Even in our family we had some friction. My uncle (we called him Uncle Uptown behind his back which should give you a hint of the source of the friction!), used to blow into our little country town wearing his fancy suit and flashing his silver cigarette lighter and a fat money clip. He was a few years younger than my Dad, and boy did he rub Dad the wrong way. His apparent success got under my Dad’s skin just like the butter that Dad slipped under the turkey skin before he cooked it. I wouldn’t say you could cut the tension with a knife, more like scoop it up with a spoon. A big spoon.

But, we were family and we managed to smother our differences with a big ladle of love poured out over all of us by Mom. I was, and still am, truly thankful for my family and all those wonderful days (even the holidays!) we shared together.

And that got me to thinking about the so-called rivalry between old-time music and bluegrass. Seems to me that it’s a lot like that rivalry between my dad and my uncle. Just like families, big brothers and little brothers (or sisters!) don’t always see eye-to-eye. Heck, more often they see fist-to-eye!

Big Brother Old-Time had been around awhile and was used to having all the attention. Then Baby Brother Bluegrass came along and grew up as the spoiled-rotten, bratty little addition to the family…always snagging the limelight and generally being loud and obnoxious (at least in Big Brother Old-Time’s estimation). But we still share the same Mom and Pop! Our DNA may be a hodgepodge of ethnicities, but it has much more in common than, say, jackhammers and songbirds. And while in some circles, Baby Brother Bluegrass is thought to “get away with murder” of the ancestral music, in other eyes it’s seen as preserving all the different aspects of the family that produced both siblings.

Now, I love my younger brother but I don’t want to lose my identity by becoming just like him or by having both of us morph into one person. It’s the same with old-time and bluegrass. These are two distinct styles that should be allowed to continue to flourish along their own path and not be forced to meld into one twig on our family tree. We both have something important to give to the world of music in ways that are unique to each of us. It doesn’t mean that one is better than the other. And it doesn’t mean that since one has been around longer, it’s somehow right and the newer style is wrong.

This same premise holds true within the extended family of bluegrass music as well. There are all kinds of different styles being born: jazzgrass, atomicgrass, jamgrass, newgrass, redgrass, and neo-traditional bluegrass to name a few. But just like in real life, you have some family members that prefer to remain unmarried for reasons of their own and others that jump from one marriage to another. However, the children of these marriages still retain the family connection and should be welcomed at our gatherings.

So I guess what I’m saying is perhaps Big Brother Old-Time and Baby Brother Bluegrass should recognize their similarities rather than focusing on their differences. Instead of excluding what some consider to be a reclusive or perhaps an eccentric “Uncle or Aunt” let’s welcome them in and give them the recognition, as well as love, that they deserve as a valued member of our family.

And just like family get-togethers, let’s invite ‘em all to the feast (or festival). Even those annoying cousins! What traditional music festival wouldn’t benefit from the inclusion of both old-time and bluegrass music? It’s been my experience over the past 15 years promoting the Park Slope Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Jamboree that a lot of bluegrassers welcome the chance to get out of their seats and dance around once and a while (and not just because they’re sittin’ in a pile of fire ants). And the old-time musicians enjoy sharing their talents with younger generation bluegrassers, maybe even secretly admiring a few of their new tricks!

Perhaps the family surname is really Music. So what’s stopping us from including Old-Time and Bluegrass Music in the name of our festivals? It’s certainly one way to promote family harmony!

Send me an email james@jamesreams.com and let me know your thoughts. Can we be one big happy family?

James Reams is an international bluegrass touring and recording artist. Coming from a family of traditional singers in southeastern Kentucky, James has played both old-time and bluegrass music since he was just a little sprout. James is known as an “Ambassador of Bluegrass” for his dedication to and deep involvement in the thriving bluegrass and Americana music community. To date, he has released 8 CDs including a special DVD documentary of his band: James Reams & The Barnstormers. Celebrating 20 years as a bandleader in 2013, he released the DVD documentary Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass the culmination of over 10 years of filming and interviews.

James is also the organizer of the Park Slope Bluegrass Oldtime Music Jamboree, an annual music festival he started in 1998 that attracts musicians and fans of traditional music to its workshops, jamming and concerts — the only event of its kind in or around New York City.

Recently James has launched R&R Productions with an associate in Arizona. This company is dedicated to providing an oasis in the Phoenix metro area for bluegrass, old-time and Americana musicians as they travel coast-to-coast for performances. R&R Productions works with agents and/or directly with artists to coordinate, promote and manage the event. Read More About James!

Tags: BluegrassOld-TimeJames Reams

Musical Heritage Mural Dedication Dec 13

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 22:54

Marion, VA - The Town of Marion is celebrating another great project. Tim White, perhaps best known as the host of Marion's nationally-syndicated television series "Song of the Mountains", has just completed a giant mural telling the community's story in paint instead of tunes on the side of Southwest Virginia's first legal moonshiner's downtown distillery and mercantile store.

A dedication is planned for Saturday, December 13th at 12 noon, and the public is cordially invited. The dedication of the mural will be just prior to a 2:00pm matinee performance of "Song of the Mountains" at the Lincoln Theatre. This performance, taped for television, features bluegrass Legend Larry Sparks with his band the Lonesome Ramblers. Larry is celebrating 50 years in Bluegrass Music this year. Also on this "Song of the Mountains" is nine year old “Fiddlin’” Carson Peters who has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. Other bands on the show December 13th are Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, After Jack and Williamson Branch. For information on "Song of the Mountains" visit www.songofthemountains.org or call 276-783-6093.

The Marion Musical Heritage Mural, wrapped over eighty feet and towering above the historic downtown district, was recently completed after a marathon painting session by White. The timeline, reading left to right, starts with the famous "Song of the Mountains" logo, and White himself, in his trademark white sport coat, is singing and playing his guitar. The historic Lincoln Theatre's marquee, home of the series, heralds "Song of the Mountains TONIGHT." Virginia Sweetwater, Southwest Virginia's first legal moonshine, is next on the mural. Wayne Henderson, a regional luthier and award-winning guitar picker from nearby Rugby and namesake of the soon-to-open Henderson School of Appalachian Arts. Bill Harrell, a native son of Marion, is another legendary bluegrass singer and musician, followed by Carson Cooper, who operated a music store in downtown for a generation, are next. Below Cooper is a nostalgic Mountain Dew advertisement, a nod to Marion's ties as home to the soft drink. Next to the ad is an image of the "Fireman's Jamboree", which was hosted by the late "Cousin" Zeke Leonard, who's image is the centerpiece of the mural. Zeke is pictured playing his signature upright bass, surrounded by square dancers at the Jamboree to the left and the WMEV radio station and tower to the right, where Zeke hosted his Saturday morning radio program for years. The next image is the late Hobart Smith from Saltville, an old-time banjo picker who had several recordings in the 1940's and whose music is archived of the Library of Congress. Beside of Hobart Smith is the late “Shorty” Rogers, the long time projectionist at the Lincoln Theatre. Next is shown the historic General Francis Marion Hotel, built in 1927 and renovated in 2005. The final image on the mural is a quart of Smyth County spring water nestled among some Virginia ivy.

Tags: Song of the MountainsMusical Heritage Mural

Bluegrass Singer-Songwriter Cindy G Offers Single to Radio

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 22:21
Nashville, TN -- Bluegrass Singer-Songwriter Cindy G has made the single “444 Chicken Bone Road” from her critically acclaimed album The Road available for the first time to radio and is now seeking bluegrass adds. Currently working on her upcoming 2015 release Train of Thought with producer Jim Van Cleve and all-star bluegrass band Rob Ickes, Bryan Sutton, Aaron Ramsey, Scott Vestal and Todd Phillips, she also offers her Christmas song “Raise Your Voices,” a secret track from the upcoming album.

Cindy Giejda, known professionally as Cindy G, has an unconventional love affair with bluegrass music. She was a flatpicking teenager in the northernmost reaches of Appalachia, playing in local jams where she fell in love with Old and In The Way, John Prine, Doc Watson, and John Hartford, but as she found herself moved by R&B and rock’n'roll, she plugged in her guitar and started playing in cover bands, singing everything from Aretha Franklin to Sheryl Crow, and playing Wild Cherry and Santana covers, while simultaneously establishing herself as a songwriter in the greater Pittsburgh, New York City and New Jersey area for many years.

However, with tinnitus ringing in her ears and a new family to take care of, Cindy decided to take a hiatus from live music, not even touching an instrument for 5 or 6 years. But she couldn’t shake her love for bluegrass, and got hooked on the Jim Van Cleve-produced Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain album, and thought, “Wow, this is the kind of bluegrass I would want to play.” During that time, her father, a fiddle player, passed away and left behind a mandolin she had purchased for him shortly before his death. She picked up and played that mandolin, and quickly became a crowd favorite at Wilmington DE's Winterfest, Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival in Pennsylvania, Albert Music Hall in Waretown, NJ, and BOTMA (Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association) in Little Silver, NJ.

As she continued writing and performing original bluegrass songs in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware areas, she enlisted the help of local musicians and friends to put together her debut album The Road (2012), a critically acclaimed collection of originals and respectful traditional covers. Bluegrass Unlimited praised Cindy on the album as “a forceful and confident singer,” acknowledging that, “story-songs seem to be a strength of hers.” The single “444 Chicken Bone Road,” is now available to radio for the first time and the music video, filmed in the picturesque country backdrop of Somerset, Pennsylvania is now being broadcast nationally and internationally.

Cindy G’s bluegrass path has come full circle since releasing The Road; a friend of Cindy’s got the album into the hands of Mountain Heart’s Jim Van Cleve, the same producer who originally inspired Cindy to pick up an instrument again and pursue a career in bluegrass. Impressed by what he heard, he not only offered to produce her next album, but enlisted a bluegrass all-star band to play on it, including multi-IBMA award winners Rob Ickes on dobro, Bryan Sutton on guitar, Aaron Ramsey on mandolin, Scott Vestal on banjo, Todd Phillips on bass, and Jim himself on fiddle.

Train of Thought, available spring of 2015 on Blue Road Records, will feature original story-songs, a rip-roaring bluegrass co-write with 2014 IBMA Song of the Year writer Louisa Branscomb, and moody takes on bluegrass classics. Now Cindy also offers a combination teaser/holiday single, the album’s secret track “Raise Your Voices” (available on CDBaby) – A sacred and reflective Christmas song featuring Sutton, Ramsey, Vestal, Phillips, and Van Cleve.

Tags: Cindy GCindy GiejdaCD ReleaseThe Roadsingle444 Chicken Bone Road

Tyler Williams Band Announces New Release and New Band Member

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 22:19

Johnson City, TN -- Tyler Williams, an amazing and recognizable voice in the industry, has announced the upcoming release of his sophomore album. His debut album, released in 2006 was a wellreceived effort, which garnered him lots of recognition all over the US.

The name of the album is Heart Over Mind, and covers 12 tracks, 3 of which were penned by a fellow Ohio native Mark “Brink” Brinkman. One of the originals on the album was written by Tyler himself, proving that he’s not only a great musician and vocalist, but also a stellar writer. Also appearing on the album are Shawn Lane and Tim Stafford of Blue Highway, Lou Reid, & Adam Steffey

“It has been a long time in the making but I'm extremely proud of this project...”
 - Tyler Williams

Tyler is also proud to announce the addition of Ryan Wilson to the lineup of the band. Ryan will be playing bass and singing harmony with the band, and has already started playing shows with the group. Hailing from the upstate of South Carolina, he’s currently an Music Performance and Audio Engineering student at Clemson University.

“I’m so excited to be joining Tyler and the band! Tyler and I share a passion for and have similar taste in music, so this was a natural fit for me.”
 - Ryan Wilson

The official release date for the album is January 2015, but you can obtain copies earlier at performances and throgh the website. You can also keep up with the band’s schedule online through the website at www.TylerWilliamsBand.com or on facebook.

Tags: Tyler Williams BandRyan WilsonBand AnnouncementCD ReleaseHeart Over Mind

Carter Family Fold Hosts Dry Hill Draggers Saturday

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 22:17

The Dry Hill Draggers started out in 1981. From Franklin County, Virginia, the group included Jimmy Boyd on banjo and his brother, Billy. Although several of the founding members are now gone, the group has continued in the mountain tradition of a generational, traditional, old time string band. Saturday, November 29th, 2014, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert of old time music by the Dry Hill Draggers. Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free.

While jamming in the 1970s in the Dryhill and Ferrum area, some of the musicians were falling behind. Edgar Crowe said since they were dragging behind on their timing, he was going to call the group the Dry Hill Draggers. That name has stuck now for the past 30 years. The Ferrum, Virginia, area is home to most of those performing in the group today. They played at the 1982 World’s Fair, and they’re favorites at the Floyd Country Store and the Blue Ridge Music Center. Their knock-down driving beat is anything but “dragging.” In 2011, they placed second in the old time band category at Galax. Fold audiences who remember Larry Sigmon and Barbara Poole will love this old time band.

The group cut their first album in 1982. Over the next several years, the Draggers recorded and released eight albums and CDs. In 2011, they released an anniversary CD celebrating 30 years. They’re now working on their 10th release. Stacy Boyd plays the doghouse bass. Jamie Boyd plays claw-hammer banjo. Billy Woods and Chris Prillaman play both fiddle and guitar. Jason Hambrick plays guitar, and founder Jimmy Boyd still performs with them just as he has for the past 30 years.

If old time is what you like, the Dry Hill Draggers will deliver. Flat-footers and two-steppers are welcome to come out and shake a leg with the Draggers. The group is known for their knock-down, hard-driving beat, and there will be lots of fiddle tunes and rare old time tunes that aren’t often heard commercially today. Bring along your dancing shoes, and get ready for some old time, mountain family fun!

Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Incorporated, is a nonprofit, rural arts organization established to preserve traditional, acoustic, mountain music. For further information on the center, go to http://www.carterfamilyfold.org. Shows from the Carter Family Fold can be accessed on the internet at http://www.carterfoldshow.com.

Carter Music Center is part of the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. You can visit the Crooked Road Music Trail site at http://thecrookedroad.org. Partial funding for programs at the center is provided by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. For recorded information on shows coming up at the Fold, call 276-386-6054. The Fold is on Facebook – page Carter Fold – and Twitter – Twitter @carterfoldinfo.

Tags: Dry Hill DraggersCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

Robert Earl Keen Added to MerleFest 2015 Lineup

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 23:03

Wilkesboro, NC -- MerleFest, slated for April 23-26, 2015, has added Robert Earl Keen to the music festival’s lineup. The four-day event, an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans, will once again take place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

Now three-decades since the release of his debut album, with well over a dozen other records to his name and thousands of shows under his belt, Robert Earl Keen has blazed a peer, critic and fan-lauded trail that’s earned him pioneer – and living legend – status in the Americana music world. Inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012, Keen has built a reputation as one of the nation’s finest musical storytellers. His signature hits include “Merry Christmas from the Family,” “Whenever Kindness Fails” and the iconic “The Road Goes On Forever.” Keen’s next project, “Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions,” is scheduled for release in early 2015.

Keen’s addition to the lineup underscores the diversity and quality of performers who are the hallmark of the festival. MerleFest is known for its unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented music from the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, Americana, blues, country, Celtic, Cajun, cowboy, zydeco, rock and many other styles that the late Doc Watson referred to as “traditional plus.”

“Robert Earl Keen is one of those ‘genre bending’ artists that fits well with the music of MerleFest. He has played the festival in the past and with his new album release it made sense to bring him back for 2015,” said Steve Johnson, artist relations manager for MerleFest. “Folks can expect to hear a mix of his hits and songs from his new bluegrass-influenced album. We are excited to have him return to Wilkesboro and to the Watson Stage at MerleFest on Sunday afternoon next year!”

Additional performers for MerleFest 2015 will be announced in the coming months. The lineup is viewable at www.MerleFest.org/lineup.

Tickets for MerleFest 2015 are now on sale and may be purchased at www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. A three-tiered pricing structure is offered for MerleFest 2015: an Early Bird Tier 1 ticket discount is available through February 15, 2015, an Early Bird Tier 2 ticket discount will run from February 16, 2015, through April 22, 2015, and the third price tier will be gate pricing. Fans are encouraged to take advantage of the extended early bird discount.

MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of "traditional plus" music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles. The festival hosts a diverse mix of artists on its 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.

Tags: MerlefestRobert Earl KeenLineupMusic FestivalEvent

Statement to Members from the IBMA Board of Directors

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 22:59

Monday, November 24, 2014, the IBMA Board of Directors sent a statement to the members of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). The statement follows:
Over the weeks since the Board meeting that began another great World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, our Board has spent a lot of time struggling over how to deal with serious matters of leadership and direction, management and governance. The very growth and success of the World of Bluegrass, and the expanded scale, scope, complexity, partnerships and budgets that have come along with them have created not only opportunities, but have put some of our structures and ways of doing work to the test.

Some Board members have left, and we regret that’s happened. They’ve been a part of the move and expansion of our signature events; the improvements we’ve made in our business practices; and the stemming of financial and membership declines, as well as part of the progress we’ve made in other areas. We appreciate all the contributions they made in those and other areas. We will continue to review business and governance practices and policies, and to make adjustments wherever needed that will allow us to be more valuable to our members and partners.

At the same time, we’re committed to moving forward. In some respects, including our leadership, we’ve made our choices and we stand behind them. In others, where choices remain to be made, we want to look ahead, not back. And here’s what we are looking at:

  1. The Board is diligently searching for a new Executive Director. This is our top priority. We are continuing to cast a wide net, and we already have some strong applicants and an ambitious timetable for recruitment.
  2. We have kept key Raleigh partners regularly informed throughout the weeks that have passed since World of Bluegrass. Our Executive Committee - Alan Bartram, Ben Surratt, Tim Surrett (Vice-Chair) and Jon Weisberger (Chair) - will be meeting with them at the beginning of December to look at how we can work together in a variety of areas to make the 2015 World of Bluegrass even better than its predecessors.
  3. We welcome Leah Ross to the Board to fill the Event Producers seat through next year, and as we move to fill other vacancies, we will continue to make sure that our Board is representative and diverse. Board seats in the Broadcast Media category; the Artists & Composers category; the Agents, Managers & Publicists category and at-large will be filled as quickly as possible in accordance with the Bylaws. Recommendations for members to be considered as candidates for nomination should be sent ASAP to nancyc@ibma.org or to suggestions@ibma.org. We will also be quickly filling vacancies in the office of Treasurer and in the Executive Committee.
  4. Staff, Finance Committee members and other responsible parties are continuing to work on the final details of complete and accurate financial reports on the World of Bluegrass, and expect to have those—including the amount of the Wide Open Bluegrass contribution to the Trust Fund—to share with the Board and, in one form or another, the membership within a few days.
  5. We’re preparing for a focused discussion on options for redesigning the World of Bluegrass Business Conference to better meet the needs of our members and our industry.
  6. We’ll be reactivating a Bylaws committee to both make proposals and review those submitted by Board and general members, and to bring clear choices to the Board.
  7. We’ll have an “in-between” Board teleconference in January, per the policy of holding two such meetings each year that the Board adopted a couple of years ago. The agenda will be distributed to members in advance for their comments.
  8. Work is proceeding on creating a “highlights” version of the 2014 Awards Show for broadcast on public television stations in early 2015. We expect to have an announcement soon of featured performers, as well as information to share about show underwriters. Stay tuned!

As we said earlier, this year’s World of Bluegrass was a great success and a memorable experience for all who came, whether to the business conference, the Bluegrass Ramble, the Awards Show, the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival or the Wide Open Street Festival. It took a team to make it happen—one that included our Raleigh partners, contractors, Board members, staff members and a lot of people who gave of their time with and without compensation. We know it will take teamwork to do it again, and it will take teamwork to move the IBMA closer to fulfilling all aspects of its mission. We’re ready to get to work, and we hope you will join us.

Tags: International Bluegrass Music AssociationIBMABoard of Directors

Darin and Brooke Aldridge Welcome their New Fiddler

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 22:57

Carley Arrowood is the newest addition to the Darin and Brooke Aldridge band. The 18 year old college freshman from Union Mills, North Carolina plays fiddle and sings harmony. She spent three years with the IBMA Kids On Bluegrass program and has won multiple First Place awards, including the North Carolina Mountain State Fair and the 2013 Ellenboro Fiddlers Convention. At the 2014 Union Grove Fiddler’s Convention she won First Place in the adult bluegrass fiddle and in the adult female vocals competitions. Carley also placed 6th in adult bluegrass fiddle at this year’s Galax Old Fiddlers Convention.

Carley is currently working on a demo CD project with Jim VanCleve producing and a few of her bluegrass heroes as the studio band. Seth Taylor plays guitar and Kristin Benson is on banjo. The album includes a song Carley co-wrote with Becky Buller who has a long and significant connection with Darin and Brooke. Buller's student in College Rachel (Johnson) Boyd spent two years with the band before leaving to becoming a full time mom. Becky stepped in for the next two years and now hands off the role to another of her talented young fiddler friends.

Carley is “extremely excited and honored” to join the Darin and Brooke Aldridge group.

The Darin and Brooke Aldridge band has received multiple award nominations and performs at festivals and concert venues across the US and Canada. In addition to Darin (Mandolin, Guitar) and Brooke (mandolin) the group includes Dwayne Anderson (bass), Tyler Collins (banjo, Guitar), Collin Willis (dobro) and Carley Arrowood (Fiddle). The band’s sixth album, Snapshots, is available for pre-release purchase on Itunes and Amazon (the scheduled release date is February 17th 2015).

We are very excited to have Carley on board with the band. She filled in several times for Becky this year and did a excellent job.She is a great young talent with a very bright future ahead of her."
  - Darin and Brooke Aldridge

When she doesn't have an instrument in her hands, Carley’s hobbies include bow hunting, fishing, riding four wheelers, drawing, acting, and cooking. Carley says her “ music is her love and Jesus Christ is her passion!”

Darin and Brooke Aldridge are represented by Sherry Graf and Buddy Lee Attractions of Nashville, TN. They record on the Mountain Home Music Company label. For more information or to schedule interviews please contact Darin Aldridge at darin@darinandbrookealdridge.com

Tags: Darin and Brooke AldridgeCarley ArrowoodBand AnnouncementFiddle

Tune-In Alert: Larry Stephenson on Sirius XM Nov 30

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 22:55

Nasville TN -- Tune-In to Sirius XM Radio’s Bluegrass Junction’s “Gospel Train” show on Sunday, November 30 to hear Larry Stephenson and tracks from the Larry Stephenson Band’s new album, Pull Your Savior In.

“The title song, Pull Your Savior In, is distinctly Bluegrass with a gospel message. Fast and foot tapping arrangement with Mandolin and Banjo accents. A river of country influence runs in Come To Jesus Moment, asking for forgiveness and atonement, all self-inflicted. Overall the selections are traditional in feel and intention, a celebration marked by classic gospel blessings,” said Digital Journal in a recent album review.

Pull Your Savior In was produced by Ben Surratt and Larry Stephenson and includes the talents of Larry Stephenson, Kenny Ingram, Colby Laney, Danny Stewart with special guests Jimmy Fortune, Aubrey Haynie, David Parmley, and Dale Perry.

Pull Your Savior In was released on Whysper Dream Music and is available for digital sale at iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby. Physical copies include a special Bonus Track and can be purchased at larrystephensonband.com. Radio station stations can download the entire album at AirPlayDirect.com or request a physical copy.

The Larry Stephenson Band stage shows include the talents of Larry Stephenson, Kenny Ingram, Kevin Richardson, and Matt Wright. To get more information and to view their complete tour schedule, please visit www.LarryStephensonBand.com

Tags: Tune in AlertLarry Stephenson BandCD ReleasePull Your Savior InBluegrass JunctionGospel Train

IBMA Desires Change for the Future...

Sun, 11/23/2014 - 22:52

For as long as I was a member of IBMA and for the many years since, people have always been asking for change. They want a change. The board needs to change. This or that needs to change. Change. Change. Change. What is it they want changed? What direction do they want association to go in? What is it they want? These questions are rarely asked and, when I ask members, I receive as many different opinions as I do people I ask. There doesn't seem to be any consensus.

I want to let the readers know that I am not out to beat up the IBMA. Just the opposite. I want to bring the issues out so people can think about them and when all is said and done, the IBMA will be better, stronger, and healthier as an organization. There are some that react whenever anybody says anything less than positive of the association. There are those who don't know and want to keep their heads in the sand. Thankfully, there are people who want to know what has been happening and to use that knowledge to plow forward and do something positive for a change. That is the purpose of these articles.

The IBMA is like a runaway train now. They don't know where they're going but, they're making good time. What is it that the members want IBMA to be? Where do they want to take it? What should it evolve into? I think these questions warrant serious attention. We don't even know if there is a consensus on the issues. Members demand change. Board members demand change. What is it that they really want? Nobody knows. If nobody knows what it is they want, how are they ever going to get there? What is it they want the IBMA to be? Nobody knows so, again, there is no way to design and plan for getting there. Destination: The Twilight Zone.

I think too many joined the IBMA with false expectations. They wanted the association to provide something to them rather than the flip side being they should be providing something to the association. For nearly a decade, I was very active in the association. From creating their first web site, active in Bluegrass in the Schools media development, speaking on panels, mentoring others, participating in the regional rep program, soliciting memberships at festivals, concerts and other events, and on and on. That's what IBMA has always been all about -- doing something that others could benefit from. The key word being "doing."

The concept is simple yet many don't get it. IBMA is an association of people similar to a club. Period. Its a group of people who share a common interest and who want to help each other out and, they do that as committees and sub-groups. You get out of it what you put into it. If they don't contribute and complain that they're not getting anything for their membership, then whose fault is that? It's theirs. They are the ones with the false expectation. The IBMA has been very open about their charter and has repeatedly expressed what they do and don't do as an organization. It isn't any dark secret and it never has been.

But, how did this false expectation happen? How or why do members have this wrong impression and expectation? The charter is clear. The bi-laws are clear. IBMA never to my knowledge advocated any differently -- in fact it has been repeatedly stated over the years on BGRASS-L and other outlets that the IBMA doesn't do the things that members seem to be expecting. Maybe this is the time to educate the members what IBMA really is and better yet, how they can make it better. Expecting the association to fill some unknown desire or need can never work if we don't even know what that need is.

There is a shopping list of things the IBMA could do to help address some of the concerns. While a survey and marketing analysis would be the most accurate measure for the desires of the membership, a few items have come to light over the past several years.

Transparency
There continues to be too many closed door meetings. I repeatedly hear members saying they don't know what the board does. International Bluegrass always has news and happenings about IBMA in it but, not everything. There are also the trust issues that linger year to year to year. A big change would be how to improve the transparency of the organization,
Communication
A lot of members aren't even aware of the IBMA Charter. Some write saying they have no idea what the board does. Many times members find out about some activity or event after it has happened. They ask why they weren't informed before the activity so that they could have participated. Communication is a two way street. In many of the notes I've read, what the members were concerned about was known and public. Had they read International Bluegrass or been on one of the various social media channels, they would have known. Sometimes one has to make an effort to find out what is going on. This change would be a two way street with both parties needing to improve.
Trust
The trust issue just won't go away. It has been there for over a decade. Some of it is justified and some is just complaining. The fact that it has been around so long without being seriously addressed is a bigger concern. It is time to nip this in the bud and put it to rest. A change that is necessary is to get the trust back. That won't happen with the controversy surrounding the questionable methods used in the chair decision vote. To regain trust, you need to address ethics in a big way.
Return on Membership
Here is an area that could offer a lost cost, extremely effective and positive impact solution. Look at the CMA, AMA and other similar successful organizations. Their communication channels are wide open. Even Cybergrass carries articles by these and other associations. They promote their music through a variety of methods. News letters, press releases, concert, festival and event announcements, social media updates, artist profiles, ... Every week I receive at least one promotional blast from each association. Add to this their high exposure for educational activities, charities and benefits and both the members and interested public feel they are receiving real value. What did it cost? Whatever it costs to put together a weekly blast and attach some images and route it through their email marketing system. That system gives them feedback on who read, shared, forwarded and/or published the material.
Nashville Ties
I doubt if anybody knows what percentage approve and disapprove of the ties to Nashville. It has certainly been a festering issue since the association moved there. The negativity towards Nashville was the primary reason for relocating World of Bluegrass to the Raleigh area. That move had an instant positive feel. What if the IBMA offices severed their ties with Nashville? This would need to be determined and any future change must include this as a valid topic of concern.
Promotion of Bluegrass
Many want to see more involvement from the IBMA in getting bluegrass music promoted to a wider audience. Doing so could potentially improve bluegrass music sales. While not currently in the charter, by looking at the above change topics, there are certainly some cost-effective methods and tools available to the IBMA to address this long-time concern.
What is Bluegrass Anyway
This change request may never be addressed because it is simply impossible to do so. Define Bluegrass Music! If you ask 100 people to define what is and isn't bluegrass you would get 100 different answers. Music is a life-form and it needs to grow, evolve and spread its wings. While we are certainly aware of the death of country music and want to insure that same thing doesn't happen to bluegrass, I don't really see a way to fence it in. The concept of defining bluegrass would be virtually impossible and, any attempt to do so would certainly offend a lot of others. I believe this change request is best left to its own devices. Let the listener defined what is and isn't for themselves. The requests to define it continue and always will and, that's just the way it is.

There are certainly a basket full of other change requests from members and the board spanning organization, professional categories and their groupings and more. There always will be and new ones will occur like clockwork. It is, however, of utmost importance that the IBMA leadership be open, receptive and willing to listen and learn about requests from the membership.

A common point that has proven to be a fallacy for a long time are those that say if you want to make change within the IBMA, join, get active and make the change happen. Well, that dog don't hunt!! It doesn't work. I know first hand. I was an active member in Print Media and Education and worked for years to get the Internet recognized as a part of that category. The IBMA would have nothing to do with that and they made it perfectly clear. There was absolutely no way that was going to happen. I have emails from others who attempted to do as advertised only to find the same brick walls that I encountered. It didn't work for them either. First of all, there is no process to solicit change. It is up to the ED and the Chair. If they don't like your idea, trust me, it isn't going anywhere. It doesn't matter the significance of the contribution. This is an area that has a very long history of failure covering the entire domain of the IBMA. Dozens have tried and dozens have given up out of pure frustration. The IBMA has to quit saying that they are open to change because, they have repeatedly proven not to be.

Managing Change is a difficult process. When I was serving as a program manager with a Fortune 100 corporation, I headed a task force on managing change. We had coursework in it. We required all our teams to go through training. We were getting ready to do something new, exciting, challenging and which was a big gamble. The patents that made the corporation were expiring and Japan had ships already loaded with low-cost competition products to take us on. The corporation took on Japan's competition head on and won! We beat the foreign imports because of quality -- not price. In order to do that, we had to completely change the way things were done within our group. People had been doing their task the same way for 10 years or more and they had to come to grips that they needed to change. People are naturally resistant to change so, to manage change, you need to make them want to change. That is a huge challenge and, that is the challenge the IBMA is facing today.

To me, it all comes down to the same problems we've repeatedly seen over the years -- lack of communication. Add to that a lack of uncriticized open communication. Members, board members, staff and even outsiders need to be able to speak without fear of retribution, criticism or vitriol. The listeners need to be open to new ideas. Some may not be feasible but, how that is handled will be what the future leadership must be willing to handle. Communication will be everything moving forward.

Right now, the association is at a critical juncture. It needs to change. The association needs to carefully assess what that change will be, the dimensions and scope of it, how to implement it and how to manage its implementation. They will need to be able to validate that they are going in the right direction and achieving pre-determined milestones. The association can no longer keep doing things the way they've always done them. Members are asking for change. The proven ways keep causing these problems. The silent treatment does more harm than good in the long term. But, you aren't going anywhere unless you know where it is you want to be first.

Tags: IBMABoard of DirectorsBusinessOpinionEditorial

Thoughts & Observations of the IBMA Board

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 22:33

First of all, this is an opinion piece -- not a news story. I've been reading comments through social media, the web, emails sent to me and comments on Cybergrass. There are certainly a lot of upset people and a lot of frustrated people. There are also many members that don't know what their own association is doing. Only a small percentage of members are really active in the IBMA. As one member said, "What is going on? I am a voting member, but do not know anything about the board." Another said, "Apathy is strong within the IBMA." Others have voiced similar thoughts. This indicates many card carrying members just carry the card. IBMA has never been an association to do something for you. It is an organization that members contribute to. For the decade that I was a member, I contributed constantly for various programs, regional rep program, created their first web site, worked on several Bluegrass in the Schools activities, spoke on sessions, mentored others and more. My hands were always involved in something the association was working towards. That is the true nature of IBMA. It really hasn't changed over the years.

If members are joining IBMA to get something out of it, I would first need to ask, "What are your expectations?" "What is it you want or need from the association?" I'm sure I'd get as many answers as people I ask but, I'm sure that very few would say, "I want to contribute to the growth of the association." IBMA has never been an association to provide for the members in concrete or physical terms.

What IBMA does is to provide an image of Bluegrass Music professionalism. That is it. They do this through World of Bluegrass, their awards show and some educational programs. People get decals that they can proudly display on instrument cases and logos that they can display on websites, association newsletters and the like but, they don't get funding, advertising or promotion, publications or anything physical that they can use to enhance their individual success in the music. Unlike the CMA that contributes millions to education and strives to really enhance what they consider country music, the IBMA doesn't really do that -- even on a much smaller scale.

Just a quick note on awards. The IBMA Awards Show is definitely a highlight of the IBMA's activities. The Grand Finale of the World of Bluegrass. Awards are meaningful in that artists, with a mantle covered with awards, can generally charge more for their performances because, the awards conveys a level of recognized and established quality with the artist. An Entertainer of the Year recognition can certainly be used for financial gain. Within a small voting membership, it is not unusual to see the same names getting awards year by year because it is the same people voting year after year. Is the image behind the award real? Probably not. Not everybody who votes has heard every radio station up for a Broadcaster of the Year award. Not everybody voting for the music has hear all the available nominations. The same for other awards. Members are global in scope but many award categories are quite small and in regional size. This pretty much renders the award hollow at best. Some awards are very meaningful and others, not so much.

According to their own charter, the IBMA does not exist to promote Bluegrass Music. It does not define what Bluegrass Music is. According to the association, "IBMA is the trade association that connects and educates bluegrass professionals, empowers the bluegrass community, and encourages worldwide appreciation of Bluegrass Music of yesterday, today and tomorrow." It is an "association" which, by definition, is nothing more than a group of people. In this case, they all have a common interest -- Bluegrass Music. There is nothing about promotion, nothing about providing a service of any kind, nothing about providing resources either. Cutting through the babble-speak, there is nothing that the association does per their own admission. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception throughout much of the membership.

So, then, why are so many upset that they don't get anything out of IBMA? Didn't they read about the association before purchasing a membership? Probably not any more so than they read the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) for some software they bought? They don't. People join because its "the thing to do." It's cool to flaunt that IBMA logo. Its almost expected to say "ya, I'm one of you IBMA people." For many people, that status alone is worth the membership fee. They are part of an association of professional Bluegrass Music people.

Don't get me wrong, the IBMA does offer some services and some members do benefit from those offerings. These include mail lists, session recordings and such but, overall, these benefits only serve a very small percentage of the overall membership. Does the Lonesome River Band really care about the number and location of bluegrass associations in South Dakota? Probably not.

So, lets get back to the topic at hand. The association has a pretty busy membership out on tour or buying talent for next year's event or whatever. These are busy members. They don't really have the time to contribute to an association built on a foundation of their contribution. For the most part, members probably don't even think about IBMA outside of World of Bluegrass or when their membership dues come due. Lets be honest here. Do you think about how you can contribute to the IBMA at least once every month of the year?

It may not be that the membership is apathetic but, rather, they are too busy and they don't have the time resources to do more. It is a matter of priorities. That's fair and probably an honest assessment. But, that same membership wants more. At least, they want the appearance and perception that they are getting more for their membership dues. Unfortunately, that is not in the IBMA's charter and, that is not what the association does. If they bought a membership expecting more, then, they made a mistake.

This is, unfortunately, a common thought thread within the member comments I have read over the past several years. How can the IBMA address this? They need to give the impression that the membership's concerns are being heard and addressed! That doesn't happen today. Sure, a topic may find its way between the covers of International Bluegrass but, does it ever go any further? Is there ever a measurable return on membership investment? Not really. Many turn to KickStarter when then need additional resources for a project -- not the IBMA. Members get frustrated because their respective special interest doesn't get addressed. With a board of representation that includes their interest, it is no wonder that they expect something more.

This is why a board built upon special interest representation is wrong. It cannot meet its expectations -- especially in an organization that defines nothing of benefit to its membership in the first place. The false sense that representation creates, by its very existence, contributes to generating a level of frustration among its members. A board is nothing more than a group of human beings trying to work together to create the best results for the organization they are charged with directing and protecting.

While simple enough in concept, its composition is different for every organization, company or corporation. The key is working together. A study by the authors of Decide and Deliver: 5 Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization determined that the optimum size for a decision-making group was seven people and that for each person added above this, the group’s decision making effectiveness was reduced by 10%. Some do well with five and as high as nine but the number seven keeps showing up.

So, what then should a board look like? 5, 7 and worst-case 9 members? While there are organizations with larger number (AMA, Folk Alliance, etc.), that doesn't imply that larger is better. In fact, according to many experts and studies, Fewer is better if you want to get anything done. The IBMA has 19 board members (13 today per the IBMA website). That's too many board members. You can't get anything done that way. Eight of those are for the professional categories of membership -- those special interest categories. Each and every board member needs to be concerned with the entire association and an advocate for every member of the association. No more special interests. And finally, because the association is a business, it is time to start operating it and treating it like one. Board members must all be PR agents and fundraisers for the association. They need to seek sponsorships, grant funding, business and community support, create budgets, design the path to the future with real and achievable milestones, etc. The board is a business board consisting of people who know how to navigate a business through all kinds of economic and market weather.

Non-profits are special. They get tax exempt status because they serve a public interest. Their ethics and standards must be the highest to earn that public trust. Trust is everything and in some organizations, the board members are referred to as "Trustees." For a board to earn the trust of its members, it must maintain high levels of ethics, professionalism and rise above the rest. This board has lost the trust. The members don't trust it. The outsiders don't trust it. After the recent events, many businesses no longer trust it and, due to all the recent resignations, some on the board don't trust it. That is a very serious problem. You can't be a trustee of the association if the trust part is missing.

The executive staff and other staff are the ones who handle the day-to-day activities. They would support sales/marketing, operations, media relations and newsletters, membership drives, World of Bluegrass planning and such. You could easily have staff positions that report to the board and ED for the eight categories but, these positions certainly do not require board level status. The staff would perform the functions that the board directs. The category representatives would give the board input. The board members would be experts hired to direct and drive the business. This would also be a huge step to regaining trust because special interests are not eliminated from the board but would still exist. Board representation would be to the association as a whole -- not a small subgroup of members. All board and executive staff positions would be filled with new faces with their new goal to progress the association as a whole. No more pitting one group against another. No more false perceptions of favoritism. This is the right way to go.

You will note that there is nothing regarding the membership in this board model. The CEO and board of a big corporation are concerned with the health and financial status of the corporation. The same is true with a small business. IF the business succeeds, then the stockholders (members) succeed. What would be an awesome concept would be to treat membership certificates as stock certificates. You buy your $100 membership in IBMA and hope to receive a financial dividend at the end of the year.

When the association becomes a real business being run as a business, the association can get down to figuring out what their product is. World of Bluegrass is certainly a big piece but, now, maybe the association can find a way to give a return on investment back to it's membership. If the association can achieve significant sponsorship of their World of Bluegrass and Awards Show, that would leave some revenue to address real membership concerns and maybe take the association into the realm of promoting the music in new ways.

But, nothing will go anywhere with apathy. Nothing will go forward without a forward thinking business leadership. Nothing will change if the problem is just silently swept under the rug waiting for the next reason to rear its ugliness. The membership needs to get involved, vocal and active in the design and formation of their leadership. Trust gets restored, the appearance of favoritism gets eliminated, purpose gets defined, and a return on membership dues gets established. Otherwise, everything will remain the same. The same frustrations. The same concerns. The same false expectations. The same as it has always been.

Its your association. Its your choice.

Tags: International Bluegrass Music AssociationIBMABoard of DirectorsBusinessOpinionEditorial

Nashville or LA: Session Aces Rate Two Schools of Recording

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 22:51

/CMA/By Michael Ross
During a recent conversation, session guitar whiz Guthrie Trapp casually referenced a distinction between classic Nashville studio procedure and what he described as Los Angeles or New York types of sessions being done in Music City.

In his view, Nashville sessions are geared toward producing the maximum amount of music in the minimum amount of time, whereas producers from the East and West Coasts require more hours in the studio.

“There are people from many cities recording many ways in Nashville now,” said Trapp, whose credits include Dierks Bentley, Kellie Pickler and Pistol Annies. “One scenario is you get a call to be at a studio at 10 o’clock with certain instruments. The songwriter plays the song or you hear a tape. Someone charts it out. They make copies. And then we go in and start playing the song. We might play it three to five times. By that time, you have dialed in what you are going to do. This might be a demo session or an indie session where they don’t have a big budget. I have worked on some sessions where we have done as many as 17 songs in a day. At the end of the day, you can’t remember what you played on anything. A week later, someone might come up to you and say, ‘I loved what you played on that song,’ but you have no idea what it was.”

The velocity of a Nashville-style session may vary, depending on the type of recording date. “On a demo date, they will want four or five songs in three hours,” said Richard Bennett, whose 46-year ongoing career has included sessions with Alabama, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and George Jones. “On those, you just put your head down and go. You get one or two passes and boom! If it’s a record date, it’s more — usually two tunes in a three-hour period.”

Higher-budget Nashville Country sessions might have the relaxed feel of an L.A. or New York date, whereas tight budgets on indie projects might require the hurry-up clip of a Nashville demo session. “More modern Country might have someone programming parts, so it might take a little longer,” said Brent Mason, who is responsible for some of the most memorable licks in Country on sessions for Brooks & Dunn, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Shania Twain and countless others. “These days in Nashville, instead of cutting the whole album in one week, we might just cut a couple of songs and then come back days or weeks later and do some more. In the old days, we used to do three songs in a three-hour session — maybe more.”

Regardless of how a session is run in Nashville, it’s often the caliber of the players that turns a take into a home run. “You have great players, great engineers and great studios,” Trapp said. “People have been making records forever in Nashville. The guys can make music in a couple of minutes that is good enough to go on a record.”

“Sometimes you can crawl up your own backside when you have too much time,” Bennett agreed. “But one way is not right and the other wrong. They are both valid.”

2014 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

Tags: CMA CloseupEducationBusiness

International Songwriting Competition Launches Two Special Promotions

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 22:49

Nashville, TN -- Do you have a great love song? Do you have a great song about a social cause? ISC is opening entries from November 18 - December 4, 2014 for songs relating to either of these topics. To enter, go to http://www.songwritingcompetition.com/submit ISC's "Sing Your Heart Out" promotion is for songs about love, falling in love, heartbreak, or anything to do with love. ISC's "Pick Your Cause" promotion is for songs about any sort of social cause. When you enter either promotion, you will receive a free Radio Airplay account, have your love song included on the Jango.com "Independent Love Songs" or "Sounds Of Social Cause" radio station, and receive 100 free spins, per entry, to your Radio Airplay account whether you are a new or existing Radio Airplay member. A group of winners will also be selected and will receive promotion and airplay from Jango.com and Radio Airplay.

Entrants will also be automatically entered into the ISC 2014 competition. ISC Prizes include over $150,000 in cash, merchandise, and services (including a Grand Prize of $25,000 cash). ISC is open to amateur and professional songwriters from all over the world, including bands and solo performers. Winners are selected by a panel of high-profile recording artists and music industry executives.

Over the years ISC has become a benchmark for songwriting talent, and winning ISC can be a tremendous career booster. Winners have included artists such as Gotye, Kimbra, Gin Wigmore, The Band Perry, Passenger, Bastille, Kasey Chambers, Gregory Porter, Lindsey Stirling, and many more. Many winners have gone on to record label deals and have secured publishing deals, licensing deals, and distribution deals, in addition to getting more gigs, fans, and recognition.

The complete list of 2014 ISC judges includes:

  • Recording Artists
    • Tom Waits
    • American Authors
    • Sarah McLachlan
    • Pat Metheny
    • Sara Evans
    • Bastille
    • Casting Crowns
    • Avicii
    • Wayne Shorter
    • John Hiatt
    • Keane
    • DJ Snake
    • Robben Ford
    • Danilo Perez
    • Kenny Wayne Shepherd
    • Natasha Bedingfield
    • Martina McBride
    • Newsboys
    • Jon Secada
    • The Chainsmokers
    • Jason Isbell
    • Afro Celt Sound System
    • London Grammar
    • Michael W. Smith
    • Craig Morgan
    • Gerald Casale (Devo)
    • Jean-Luc Ponty
    • James Cotton
    • Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes)
    • Darryl McDaniels (Run D.M.C.)
    • Matt Thiessen (Relient K)
    • Chayanne
    • J. Holiday
    • Femi Kuti
    • and Bela Fleck
  • Industry Executives
    • Monte Lipman (Founder and Chairman/CEO, Republic Records)
    • Craig Kallman (Chairman/CEO, Atlantic Records)
    • Dan McCarroll (President, Warner Bros. Records)
    • Jeff Castelaz (President, Elektra Records)
    • Alison Donald (Co-President, Columbia Records UK)
    • Ted Cockle (President, Virgin Records UK)
    • Mike Smith (President, Mercury Records UK)
    • Nir Seroussi (President, Sony Music Latin)
    • Ed Vetri (President, Wind-Up Records)
    • Rosie Lopez (President, Tommy Boy Entertainment)
    • Glen Barros (President, Concord Music Group)
    • Rex Rideout (VP of A&R, Motown Records)
    • Jay Landers (Executive VP of A&R, Verve Music Group)
    • Bryan Stewart (VP of A&R, Curb Records)
    • Jason McArthur (VP of A&R, Provident Label Group / Sony Music Entertainment)
    • Bruce Iglauer (Founder/President, Alligator Records)
    • Edward Chmelewski (President, Blind Pig Records)
    • Angel Carrasco (Sr. VP A&R, Latin America, Sony)
    • Keith Naftaly (Executive VP of A&R, RCA Records)
    • Steve Lillywhite (Producer)
    • Joseph Burney (VP of A&R, RCA Inspiration/Sony Music Entertainment)
    • Richard Stumpf (CEO, Atlas Publishing)
    • Steve Greenberg (CEO, S-Curve Records)
    • Kim Buie (A&R, Thirty Tigers)
    • Albert Schilcher (VP of Music and Music Marketing, MTV International)
    • Gary Briggs (Senior VP of A&R/Producer, New West Records)
    • Lori Teig (VP of Talent, VEVO)
    • Jermaine Hall (Editor-In-Chief, Vibe Magazine)
    • Jamie Masada (Owner, Laugh Factory)
    • Cory Robbins (Founder/President, Robbins Entertainment)
    • Julie Kertes (General Manager, National Parenting Publications Awards, NAPPA)
    • Claire S. Green (President, Parents' Choice Foundation)
    • Leib Ostrow (Founder/CEO, Music For Little People)
    • Nate Dern (News Editor, Funny Or Die News)
    • Shannon O'Neill (Artistic Director, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre NY)
    • and Wende Curtis (Owner, Comedy Works)

ISC is sponsored by: Ableton, Airplay Direct, Berklee College Of Music, Celebrity Access, D'Addario, Disc Makers, George Stein, Esq., Hammond USA, Indie Pro Mix and Final Mix, Inc., Gauge Microphones, Indie Venue Bible, LowdenGuitars, Lurssen Mastering, Slate Digital, SongU.com, The Music Business Registry, Taxi, Thayers, and Vosges Haut-Chocolat.

Tags: International Songwriting CompetitionISCSongwritingCompetition

IBMA Board Hemorrhaging Continues with Three More Resignations

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 22:14

Three more board members of the International Bluegrass Music Association have tendered their resignations. Brian Smith, Henri Deschamps and Elizabeth Wightman joined others who have earlier submitted letters of resignation including Executive Director Nancy Cardwell, Craig Ferguson and Dwight Worden. Board Chairman Jon Weisberger had also offered to resign however the recent board vote was to not accept that resignation.

Resigning members have offered differing reasons but all follow on the heels of the resignation of Executive Director Nancy Cardwell following a "no-confidence" board vote after she pulled off the most successful World of Bluegrass event in the Association's history and, restored its image to members and non-members alike. Once again, the common element that keeps popping up is the Chair, Jon Weisberger. Weisberger's strategy to have a board of his friends make the resignation decision, instead of himself, has once again worked in his favor and effectively shifted the blame of his retention on the board to others. What he should have done was just resign. He was also the focus in the previous board uprising episode when the IBMA lost David Crow.

After the massively successful World of Bluegrass including the move to Raleigh, support from Raleigh's business community, rave reviews from one end to the other, and a financial success for both the organization and the community, a positive new image for IBMA, the board somehow found it necessary to hold a closed board meeting that resulted in the no confidence vote for their Executive Director. This shocked the membership, community, businesses, fans and apparently some on the board. How so many could see the positive impact of Cardwell's leadership, while some on the board could not, remains a mystery. Was this another buddy-buddy board decision? We will probably never know.

The IBMA board has been way too big for many years. An association of this structure should have a board of no more than 9 members (odd numbers desired to avoid tie votes). The board could probably function very well with seven. The current structure is for 19 members -- way too many. Also board members should be business oriented and not necessarily function oriented. The board's goal is to drive the entire association forward as a business -- as a whole. Having a board comprised of narrow interests within the association may not be serving the board the way it should. While based on good intentions and good ideals, the reality is that it may not be functioning as intended.

A board comprised of a sponsorship, contracts and grant writer, treasurer and budgeting, business development/outreach, and other business functions would probably be preferential to one designed for songwriters, labels, artists, etc. Each board member should represent all of the members and serve the entire association as a whole. Selective interests in specific areas can create a tug-of-war for the recognition and also, over the limited resources available, as each tries to gain as much as possible for their respective constituents. A board of 7 or 9 is all that is necessary. Any more adds too much confusion and noise to the picture.

A significant part of the membership has indicated a distrust of the board, or at least some members of the board, for many years. Cardwell did much to turn that perception around and to regain a lot of that lost trust back. The association saw real and positive change under her watch. Trust returned. Image improved. Excitement and energy were restored into the feel of IBMA. Then came the board's reaction to Cardwell's performance, two more resignations and now three more. If that doesn't send up a bright flare that there is trouble in the core of the board, then probably nothing will. Apparently, to some, their remaining on the board is more important than the survival of the association and its board.

Elizabeth Wightman seemed to sum it up best when she wrote, "I cannot continue to serve on a board which I feel blatantly disregards the wishes and requests of the members it serves. The board has taken no true action to address the membership’s lack of faith in our current leadership and I cannot support that lack of action. There are significant issues that are essentially (in my opinion) being swept under the rug."

This is a topic which, over the years, I've mentioned in these columns many times before. The association seems to address internal issues with silence. Shut up and the issue will go away. They hope that in time, people will just quit talking about the problem(s) and life will settle down and go on as it has before. Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was. The problem is that the poison doesn't go away -- only the discussion about it vanishes, for a while anyway. That poison continues to ferment and grow until it resurfaces again and again with the same silent treatment as the cure. Each time the board has erupted, the eruptions have become greater in scope. The silent treatment solution has repeatedly proven not to work for over a decade. I believe this is what Henri is referring to when he says he is still waiting to see fundamental change that never seems to occur.

Brian Smith echoed this when he wrote, "I share neither the chair nor the majority of the board’s assessment of our current situation, of the changes needed, of the significant challenges we face, style, logic or order in which change must occur; all required to move forward in the all-important areas the IBMA needs to improve in."

Smith also noted, "I deeply believe the organization is quickly in need of introspective review and experienced senior leadership, not only at the Executive Directors position but other positions as well and do not feel I can offer acceptable guidance under the current model. I do not wish to be a distraction to the board, which is made of up esteemed colleagues and friends and in order that they move forward I felt this was the only prudent option remaining."

All three commented around the topics of leadership, the chair, and the necessity for change. There has been a world of discussion about change within the IBMA and its direction but, not a lot of communication indicating the desired destination or route to get there. Without knowing where you want to go, it is difficult to plan a navigation route in that direction. To that end, it isn't clear what the change is that these board members were seeking. We have a chair and his supporters on the board. Whatever the chair desires, the chair gets. This is not the way a healthy and functional board operates. Where even the appearance of a conflict of interest exists, trust will be lost. That appearance is a strong image today.

To make the necessary changes will be a difficult but, not insurmountable, task for the association. It will be a structural change with a new paradigm necessary to change how things are done. I don't see any current board members remaining if this is to happen. They can't and expect the trust element to be healed. Moving from a representative board to a business functional board would be a good thing. This way, every board member represents the entire membership -- not just their peer sub-group. Every functional board position serves to improve the entire association -- not just a small faction of it. And, finally, the functional board treats the association as a real business with functions defined by real business need. It would be a good and healthy change.

The membership sincerely questioned the move to Nashville. The topic has really never settled down. Raleigh was an ideal new venue for the annual trade show and convention, World of Bluegrass, and its associated functions. The members liked it. The Raleigh community liked it. The businesses supported it. The image of the IBMA improved an order of magnitude. It looked, for awhile anyway, that the association was finally going to give the membership and the fans what they wanted. The only thing that remained a problem, in the eyes of many, was that the association was still rooted in Nashville. Deep down in the bowels of the association something is still smoldering and building up steam. We are seeing that repeat eruption, that has happened before, occurring once again.

The association needs to stop, take a step back and, as Smith noted, take a deep review and inspection of where they are, how they managed to get into this situation. Without knowing that, they can't find their way out. Much of this all started with the decision to relocate the IBMA to Nashville a decade ago. A large amount of discontent with that decision has been on the back burner for a very long time. In fact, that was a significant factor in the decision to move World of Bluegrass out of Nashville.

The association is hemorrhaging its top leadership board members and its Executive Director. The focal point keeps indicating the Chair and his friend board members. If the IBMA is to survive long-term, it needs to actively address the root of its problem and not go silent once again. It is possible that a reorganization of the board structure is now required. It may even be necessary to sever the ties to Nashville. If the association is to survive, it will need a professional board that can work together addressing business needs, revenues and image. They were almost there. They were close. Raleigh 2014 is proof of that.

They seemed to be on the right track but the left rail. There is nothing wrong with starting over with all fresh people, ideas and experiences. Just don't do it as knee-jerk reaction. If the association decides to take this approach, it will need to be an reasoned, architected and planned migration. It won't be an instant change. Patience and tolerance will need to coexist with the reality of the here and now. If the board and its chair decide to go quiet again and sweep the problem under the carpet in hopes that it will just go away, as they have done in the past, it will come back as an even bigger problem down the road. I sincerely believe the IBMA is fixable. It is a good organization but, I also believe that the entire board needs to be replaced in order to regain the trust of the board.

Tags: IBMAInternational Bluegrass Music AssociationBoard of DirectorsBusinessOpinionEditorial

How to Grow a Band Limited Edition 2 CD Set Released

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 22:12

How to Grow a Band is a documentary film about Punch Brothers. The deluxe, limited-edition version of How to Grow a Band is now available. The two-disc set contains three hours of previously unreleased bonus material and makes a handsome holiday gift for any Punch Brothers completist or lover of single-camera documentary. And it’s a must own for graduate students hoping to successfully defend their Punch Brothers dissertations.

The two-disc set offers an extended look at the early days of a band on the rise and is only available in what some in the movie business call “the vinyl of the future” – aka DVD or BluRay.

A lot has happened in the seven years since the cameras first began to roll. But through the power of video, this collection provides a one-of-a-kind visual record of Punch Brothers circa 2008 -- a time capsule, if you will, packed with three more hours of outtakes, extended interviews and musical moments captured as the world was first hearing what this band had in store for them.

As you may know, the creation of these limited-edition sets was made possible by our 678 Kickstarter backers. Each of their names is memorialized as part of a twelve-page booklet, which sits inside a six-panel, eco-friendly* package. Of course, as this is a limited-edition collection, supplies are limited.

Domestic orders made by 12/18 will arrive by 12/24. We do ship internationally too. Please check out our Holiday Shipping Deadlines to learn more. Keep on Growing,

Tags: How To Grow a BandDocumentaryCD ReleasePunch Brothers

Happy Thanksgiving from Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out!

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 22:10

Thanksgiving Message from Russell Moore:
It's amazing to realize that our touring for 2014 is almost at an end and that Thanksgiving, Christmas and a new year are just around the corner! We're excited about our upcoming performances in Myrtle Beach, SC and Raleigh, NC on the 27th & 28th before taking a rest in December for some anticipated family time during the holidays. This past year has been wonderful and fruitful in so many ways and we are so blessed with the support of everyone in the industry from the promoters and DJs to our friends, families and fans, and I'd like to offer our sincere appreciation to all who have made it possible for us to continue to live our dream!

A multitude of people have asked about Blake Johnson's recovery and his current condition and I can't tell you how many have offered support and prayers for Blake and his family and the band! Blake has had a tough time but he finally got to go home on the 14th of this month after spending about 8 weeks in Duke University Hospital. That was some really good news, but wait.....it gets better! After talking with Blake on Tuesday (the 18th) he feels like he'll be able to close out the year on stage with us and perform in Myrtle Beach and Raleigh!! This is very exciting for all of us and, no doubt, will be to the delight of all who attend these shows! Words absolutely cannot express our appreciation for the outpouring of concern and support and, especially, for all the prayers for Blake's recovery!

2015 is gearing up to be another great year for the band and we're really looking forward to 'living our dream' once again! If we don't see you before then, our hopes are that your Thanksgiving is happy, your Christmas is merry and that the holidays are spent with friends and loved ones, and that 2015 is the best year you've had in many! Stay tuned!

Tags: Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme OutThanksgiving

The Gibson Brothers Pay Tribute To Brother Acts On Rounder Debut

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 22:37

Nashville, TN -- On February 25, 2015, The Gibson Brothers will release Brotherhood, a loving homage to the brother duos that have inspired them since childhood. “Making an album like this is something we’ve always talked about,” explains Leigh Gibson. “At some point you have to stop talking and start doing. Older brother Eric elaborates: “We love that tradition of brothers singing together, and to pay tribute to that shows people where our hearts are.”

For Brotherhood, Eric and Leigh chose fifteen songs from country, bluegrass, and early rock ‘n’ roll brother acts, including some that will be familiar to most listeners, such as Phil and Don Everly; Charlie and Ira Louvin; Jim and Jesse McReynolds; and Carter and Ralph Stanley. The album also features covers of songs recorded by some lesser-known acts, including the Blue Sky Boys, the Church Brothers, and the York Brothers.

Leigh Gibson reflects, “These are the acts that pointed us in our direction musically. After we got going, we went our own way for a while.” He adds, “But the process of making this record brought us back to the music we were listening to when we were just getting started. So many of these songs, when we sing them, I feel like I did when I was 15 years old, sitting in our living room in the farmhouse and learning how to play. This music is a part of our soul.”

The material is familiar, yet in some ways Brotherhood is an album of firsts. It’s the Gibson Brothers’ first album on Rounder Records, their first covers project, and it’s also the first release that includes the newest member of the band, award-winning mandolin player and vocalist Jesse Brock, who joined the group in late 2012.

The band, which is led by guitarist Leigh and banjo player Eric, also includes longtime band members Mike Barber (bass) and Clayton Campbell (fiddle). For Brotherhood, which was largely recorded live in the studio, they were joined by a stellar group of guests, including Ronnie and Rob McCoury, who contribute mandolin, banjo, and vocals; former Osborne Brothers sideman Ronnie Reno;, pedal steel guitarist Russ Pahl, and percussionist Sam Zucchini.

Brotherhood is the Gibsons’ twelfth album since their 1993 debut, Underneath a Harvest Moon. 20 years on, Eric and Leigh have matured considerably as musicians, writers and performers, causing an ever-growing legion of bluegrass fans to take notice and garnering impressive amounts of critical acclaim: not only did the band win IBMA’s Entertainer of the Year Award in 2012 and 2013, but the organization presented Eric with the prestigious Songwriter of the Year Award last year as well.

The Gibson Brothers have truly come into their own, combining their wide-ranging influences into a unique style that honors tradition while still sounding refreshingly new.

Tags: The Gibson BrothersCD ReleaseBrotherhood

Music, Magic, and Fire on the Mountain: FloydFest 2015 Announced

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 22:35

Floyd, VA -- For many longstanding summer music festivals, finding new and exciting ways to draw fans back for another season can prove challenging — but not for FloydFest. At Across-the-Way-Productions, the fires of creativity are burning brighter than ever. With its “Fire on the Mountain” theme, FloydFest is roaring into its 14th year with a fully streamlined reinvention of its roots, celebrating the authenticity of the music, people and setting that have sparked a music festival revolution. From July 22 to July 26, 2015, FloydFest is bringing a full five days of music and magic in the mountains, filled with endless opportunities to enjoy incredible music, healing arts, outdoor activities and more.

Located on a pristine, 80-acre plateau in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, FloydFest has created a limited-capacity event with an authentic atmosphere where fans can experience an unparalleled intermingling of music, scenery, community and self-discovery. Following a renewed focus on logistics for 2014, FloydFest is turning inward for inspiration in 2015, going back to early roots and embracing a family-centric vibe coveted by fans who have been with FloydFest since its humble beginnings.

“We aim to be a boutique festival that continually exceeds the standards of our patrons, and that begins and ends with listening to our fans,” FloydFest Co-Founder and CEO Kris Hodges said. “Our fans said they loved being able to park on-site, so we’re providing more on-site parking. They like to jam to Bluegrass, Americana and Rock n’ Roll, so we’re adjusting our line-up to reflect that. Our fans are our family, and we’re going to give them the best FloydFest has to offer.”

The November artist line-up announcement hints at a healthy dose of FloydFest fan favorites and suggestions for 2015. Already on-board for FloydFest 14: Drive-By Truckers ~ Leftover Salmon ~ Lord Huron ~ Shovels & Rope ~ Greensky Bluegrass ~ Sam Bush Band ~ Nikki Bluhm & The Gramblers ~ and many more TBA.

The re-invented musical line-up will pave the way for an increasingly down home, community-centered atmosphere, featuring patron-led panel discussions, group outdoor activities and evening s’mores sessions around campfires. Based on patron feedback, the Global Village will be completely revamped to offer patrons a full-fledged glamping experience with upgraded camping offerings, a café with continental breakfast and evening song and campfire sessions. The main field will bring an even greater diversity of offerings than in years past, bringing back the much-beloved circus trapeze and fire performances, added to the Healing Arts Village, extensive Children’s Universe, more than 100 unique artisans and crafters, gourmet regional food trucks and concessions and a wide variety of outdoor activities both on and off the festival site.

Now on sale for 2015, 5-Day, 4-Day and 3-Day Adult General Admission tickets can be purchased as a bundle with a General Admission Tent Tag. Coming with friends? Even better — this year, FloydFest is offering special HOV EZ Pass Bundles for groups of friends and family who travel to FloydFest together. The HOV EZ Pass Bundle include 4 Adult General Admission tickets, 2 Tent Tags and 1 Onsite Parking Pass. To learn more about ticket bundle options, visit http://www.floydfest.com/tickets.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit http://www.floydfest.com or call 1-888-VA-FESTS. Find FloydFest on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FloydFestVA and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/floydfest.

Tags: Floyd FestMusic FestivalLineupEventLeftover SalmonGreensky BluegrassSam Bush Band

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