I watched with some jealousy the dispatches from our contingent at this year’s IBMA event. I remember when I was on the Board, there was some controversy over whether having a CBA presence at IBMA was a worthwhile use of CBA’s time and money. I was always amazed by this.
The CBA’s charter is grand and far-reaching – preserving and promoting bluegrass, old time and gospel music. Achieving that lofty goal means much more than sponsoring jams and festivals. The CBA is the largest bluegrass “fan” organization and makes a difference in the actual world of bluegrass music.
From a fan point of view, bluegrass may seem mainly present as a participation sport – going to jams, shows and festivals and listening to records, tapes (8-tracks?) and CDs. But there is an infrastructure behind the music – an industry if you will – that ensures the events happen, deserving musicians are able to devote their energies full time and make and distribute recordings, and radio stations that will bring bluegrass (and old time and gospel) music to fans throughout the world.
IBMA is an industry organization dedicated to that musical infrastructure, and the CBA’s voice needs to be heard, for us to fulfil our charter. We are the “last mile” – we bring the music to your eyes and ears. Therefore, we need to be an insider in the industry, and we need to be influential to serve the needs of our membership.
From the pictures, the IBMA looks like one big party, and to a significant degree, it is. But it’s also where the rubber meets the road when it comes to discovering new talent, promoting our own local talent, and keeping the process that makes the CBA so wonderful going.
I’ve been the IBMA twice and it was hardest working-est, hardest partying-est 7 days I’ve been through. But it’s exciting to be inside the machine, and frankly, it’s good to know there IS a machine. It’s a darn big country – a darn big world, actually, and events like this, and organizations like the IBMA and the CBA need to pool their experience and energies to make sure the best and brightest bands and musicians are able to reach the greatest number of people.
I applaud the hard-working 2015 CBA IBMA team. I think they’re probably caught up on their missing sleep by now.