Tuesday, 6 October 2009

IBMM leads from the front

The International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) at Owensboro, KY, has made a major contribution to raising the profile of European bluegrass in the USA. First, by booking three winners of the #1 European Bluegrass Band award at the annual European World of Bluegrass (EWOB) festival at Voorthuizen, the Netherlands, to appear at the IBMM's annual River Of Music Party (ROMP) festival in 2010; and secondly, by urging other event organisers to follow this example and lay the foundations for regular exposure in the US for bands from outside.

Acousticure (Hungary; #1 2008; above), the G2 Bluegrass Band (Sweden; #1 2007; right), and the Mideando String Quintet (Italy; #1 2006; below) will all be performing at ROMP on 26 June 2010. IBMM executive director Gabrielle Gray has issued a 'Call to action' to event organisers, IBMA members, and other bluegrass supporters throughout the USA to

... route these great musicians from festival to festival during the summer of 2010, making it more affordable for everyone and giving the EWOB winners the exposure their winning has merited them... These three EWOB bands, and all their 1st place predecessors, won because their music is extraordinary and immensely appealing.

And the proposal is not just for a one-off special effort in 2010:

Here's the challenge: let's get our act together and give international bands a series of events in which to perform, every year, from all around the world... It's both good for business and for the planet.

The 'Call to action' has already evoked positive response, especially from the western USA. Peter Thompson of Redwood Bluegrass Associates in Northern California, whose concert schedule runs from October to May, reports:

... we're wide open to European bands who want to try a club/concert tour during these months, perhaps in conjunction with appearances at one of the winter festivals in the western US... The annual Live at EWOB releases, which always get my nomination for Recorded Event Of the Year, are packed with terrific bluegrass.

Linda Bolton of the Albuquerque Folk Festival, held annually in late June, reports:

If you can get other June festivals interested, and the routing works, we'd love to have a great European bluegrass band at AFF.

The IBMM is also selecting a band from Japan to appear at ROMP 2010.

The ROMP stage, Yellow Creek Park, at twilight