Author: Evans, Bill

Welcome to the Bluegrass Off Season

I hope that each and everyone one of you is enjoying a restful and peaceful week with friends and loved ones. If youíre a self-employed person like me, youíll no doubt relate to how hard it is to pull out of work mode for very long at this time of year. Hereís a litmus test: if you took a look at your work related email on Christmas Day more than, well, letís say TWO times, and youíre not a doctor on call or POTUS, then my advice is to sit back a bit more and try to relax between now and New Yearís Day, the best you can.

Not that I will necessarily be able to follow that advice myself. While decent gigs tend to be few and far between now and mid- to late-January, these weeks are almost always a very busy time for most professional musicians. Many artists use this time to record new CDs, as I did in Chattanooga in mid-December with the legendary fiddler Fletcher Bright. Many touring bands often spend winter months shuffling their personnel, which then sets in motion the work associated with shooting new publicity pictures, revamping websites and giving a new look to Facebook artist pages. Thereís also usually a fair amount of songwriting and rehearsing right now, in order to break in those new band members and learn new material for the upcoming festival season.

Thereís also the booking work that always has to be done but is especially intense right now: most musicians and agents spend more time on the phone and on email through the first few weeks of January than at almost any other time of year, closing deals, writing contracts, sending digital pictures and mailing promo CDs and tour posters. For those of us who teach at a lot of workshops, this is also the time of year that we create new topics, turn in class descriptions and set teaching schedules for camps that extend all the way through next fall. As anyone who has done this will tell you, all of this is a full-time job in itself.

But donít get me wrong, I would never, ever want to trade this time of year for any other. Itís great to put the suitcase back into the garage for a few weeks and witness hazardous winter travel conditions from the comfort of my living room via a CNN news report instead of from inside a band vehicle negotiating blizzard conditions somewhere in the Midwest. This is also the time of year that I embark on new musical explorations: this winter Iím working on the mandolin a bit and Iíve made a personal vow to learn at least enough swing guitar to fake a couple of standards by spring. In short, the time spent away from home during the other months of the year makes these weeks right now all the more loved and appreciated. Itís the time of year that most musicians look forward to all year long.

For those of us in California, the Bluegrass Off Season also means that we get to see a number of touring national touring artists in intimate indoor venues who visit the West Coast for a few weeks to escape the hazards of East Coast winter touring. Look for Dailey & Vincent, Claire Lynch, Rhonda Vincent, Andy Statman, Don Rigsby, the Red Clay Ramblers and many others to grace our state before the northern California rains let up in April or May.

Thereís a lot going on in the Bluegrass Off Season Ė with lots of reasons to celebrate at this special time of year the music we enjoy all year long. Happy New Year everyone!

All the best,

Bill Evans
Posted:  12/28/2012

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