Author: Brandli, Darby

October Message from the President

We are planning for our trip to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) annual conference in Nashville, the World of Bluegrass. The online forum, IBMA-L, has been busy for the last couple of weeks with discussions about the state of the music, the state of the business, the state of the organization. We have these same conversations in our own spot on the planet and they are the same conversations every music association, festival and music company is having on their own turf.

Heated conversations about “What is Bluegrass Anyway” (WIBA) seem to have subsided and apparently more people are using their eyes and ears via our digital technology to watch and listen to another generation’s interpretation of the acoustic music we all love. I don’t know if more talented young musicians are coming onto the scene than before. Or is it just easier to find them and listen to them via the electronic portals available to us? I have been listening closely to the words written by Infamous Stringduster Chris Pandolfi and have reading the responses to those words reprinted from his blog onto other music forums. Chris is challenging us to open our ears and hearts to a new generation’s interpretation of the music and to open our doors and to invite them in. Chris Pandolfi will be one of the keynote speakers at World of Bluegrass. I am looking forward to what he has to say to us.
The state of all music has changed and we can purchase, download, upload, listen digitally and streaming. The questions about artist control of their own music (and profit from that music) are constantly being asked. The performers and songwriters are being challenged by the new music consumer environment to find ways to remain in some kind of control of their “product.” The neighborhood music store is a thing of the past. There are fewer and fewer independent radio stations broadcasting into our homes and automobiles. We have evolved from vinyl to tape to CD to ether in the last quarter century and that evolution comes with new sets of problems for the business end of music. I look forward to the seminars dealing with this new reality and a small glimpse into what the future holds.
The IBMA is examining “who” they are in this century and there will be a number of opportunities to listen to what the future might hold for the IBMA. The CBA must do the same. Are our mission statements still valid and, if so, how do we best meet them? Do our members today want the same thing from the organizations that we focused on in the past? Who are our members anyway? Who might our new members be or is “membership” even important? Who is listening to us and how do they listen? The CBA started out with a mimeographed newsletter and one annual festival and we are something very different today. Is the direction we are heading the direction our participants want us to go? If we can identify that direction, can we afford it?
The World of Bluegrass is a very valuable forum for those of us involved in the business and organizational side of our culture. The relationship the CBA has with others in our little world has served us immensely in the past and will be essential in the future. We always return home to California with insight and new ideas and much more work to do. This year we will return home to meet new CBA Board Members who will bring their own ideas about the CBA to the table. We also return home with cravings for green vegetables and fresh fruit after our week of sampling southern food.

2009 was the first year that I was able to attend the FDF in Grass Valley. I had always heard about the festival but was never able to attend. I did not know about the whole CBA community. I decided to volunteer. I tried to help out every crew after my assigned work was done to help get acquainted with some of the people. What a great time!! I got to meet some great people like Deb, Patty, Rick, Darbi, Montie, Rich, and Tim among others. I will certainly ask for the privilege to volunteer every year up there.

I recently heard about the Fall Camp-out and decided to go, so I figured why not volunteer. I contacted Steve and he set it up. Being a little shy I was not sure how accepted or comfortable I would feel but went anyway. I spent a lot of time just listening to the jams going on. I was standing away from Pat's RV just listening one night. When the song was over Pat got up and made her way through the crowd just to introduce herself. I thought, what a nice thing to do.

I made it over to another jam the next day. I recognized Mr. Edes, Cornish, Rhynes, and Lisa Burns. Again standing back listening, Tim saw me there. I was surprised that he had remembered me from Grass Valley. He introduced me to everyone then demanded that I get my instrument. I was very nervous about joining my first jam but on top of that, most of the CBA board members were in this jam and I was new to all this. My skill level and lack of jamming worried me a little. I grabbed the guitar anyway and had a great time. Thanks Tim.

I was sure that I could not feel more welcome, then I met a man named Cliff, who proved me wrong. He ended up at my camp teaching me some things on the guitar that I have wanted to learn. I am 44 years old and when I grow up I want to be just like him. He has a way of making you feel like you are a long time friend. What a servant's heart. It was people I have mentioned along with Slim, Mickey, Jim, Diana, Eddie, Jack, George, and many others that made this outsider feel like I belonged. It seems to be a trait among the whole CBA membership I have met.

These two recent CBA events have rekindled a passion for this pure and honest music as well as learning more on my guitar. I cannot imagine another genre of music that have this sort of welcoming nature and desire to just be together and play the music they love. It is certainly the people associated with this music that really helped to set my hook. I can't thank all of you enough for ensnaring me and giving me a renewed hunger. Hooked? Without a doubt!
Posted:  10/15/2011

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