After having heard nothing but raving reviews about it for 10 years, I finally made it to my first edition of IBMA World of Bluegrass! What an overwhelming experience. It might have been a bit naive to make the very first trip all by myself, because it’s a big step from the European bluegrass scene – where I know lots of people by now – to the US scene where I could roam the halls for hours without seeing a familiar face. In the plus side, not getting distracted by meeting one old friend after the other (I always plan to see all the bands in the festival program, but I usually end up seeing 1 or 2 and spending the rest of my time at the bar) means that I have loads of time to watch bands. I have been blown away by bands like Cup o’Joe, One Up Two Down, Lonely Heartstring Band, Mile Twelve, the Moore Brothers, and Charm City Junction. At the special achievement awards I was lucky enough to sit up front with the organizers of the La Roche Bluegrass Festival, who were nominated for the event of the year award (unfortunately they did not win). I saw Front Country up close, a great band that was booked for that slot by the CBA. The table next to us was taken by the CBA, and I think they had the most fun of all the people in the room! I was very excited when I met Geoff (who recognized me from my Welcome Column picture) introduced me to the CBA suite. I went there the next evening, saw some great bands again, had some interesting and friendly conversations and tried out the IPA of the sponsor Sierra Nevada brewery (the verdict: yes, a fine beer). I’m looking forward to going to the suite again tonight; I prefer the small scale, living – room type concerts to the huge Red Hat amphitheater. It might be a waste of money, but after 15 minutes of trying to enjoy Balsam Range with the feeling of having been shrunk by a laser gun and thrown into an anthill (So! Many! People! Everywhere! Always! Moving! ) I decided I prefer to watch those Big Names on DVD and spend my time here with those who have not yet reached superstar status but whose musicality and charisma give me this intense feeling of being touched, being human, that I’m always chasing after.