My dad says he will follow up with an actual review of the IBMA World of Bluegrass and Fan Fest soon. In the mean time…
For the people who went, you were aware that I didn’t go to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass or Fan Fest this year. I have a lot of school work, and couldn’t take off those days like I did in previous years. For a while I was aware that I was not going to be able to make it, and the closer the time came to the eventual week, the more I longed for the adventures and memories that go along with it. Even though there are an infinite amount of reasons to go to this event, I am going to talk about the ones that really make this festival one of the best weeks of a calendar year.
Even though there are so many incredible players back on the West Coast, you will never have the same ego you had after jamming on the 18th floor with these players that you can’t even fathom. One distinct memory of this was my first year of going to Nashville. As an arrogant 11 year old that thought he was the next Tony Rice, I strutted into the jams like Michael Jordan into a high school gym. Even though it took me a while to adjust and face the facts that I was out of my league at times, I found how much fun and how important and crucial it can be to listen and to see what other players are doing, and because of this knowledge, I became a much better player after that week, and a lot more inspired.
Another reason is of course, the food. Whether you want Italian, across the street at Demos, or a nice burger at 417 Union there is no way to have an empty stomach in Nashville. My favorite food memory in Nashville was also on my first trip when I went to the mecca of Southern Hospitality and cuisine, Cracker Barrel. This place was everything a restaurant could be. It even had rocking chairs outside!
But when we all think of Nashville and of a festival, we think of the music. One of my favorite things about the music is that it is so varied. There are a lot of different venues to play at that all have their own specific feel and style. There are shows in the suites for the different music associations and 20 different rooms for record labels to have showcase shows, which are some of the most fun shows you will see. The first time I saw Cadillac Sky was 4 feet away from them, and that was only possible because of the venue that they were playing in. If you are not into a more personal show, there is a gigantic amphitheater where the Fan Fest is held for the weekend. The lineups have every single bluegrass band imaginable, plus special shows that are a once in a lifetime opportunity to see, like when Tony Rice and Josh Williams played together to close out Saturday night 2 years ago. There are so many special musical opportunities that are not available anywhere else that makes this festival so special.
Well at least I am getting a good education, but I really did feel like something was missing last week, and I was thinking about all of the incredible times I could have had back in Nashville. Hopefully I’ll make it back next year in North Carolina, and hopefully it doesn’t hinder the festival when it loses the Nashville vibes.