Sunday, 14 February 2010

2nd European Bluegrass Summit at Bühl, Germany, 5–7 Feb. 2010

Summit attenders on the Schütte-Keller stage after the concert on 6 Feb. (photo: Daniela Busam)

Following the success of the first European Bluegrass Summit in February 2009, a second Summit was held on 5-7 February 2010 under the auspices of the European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA), with objectives that included the following:

* To provide an opportunity for a wide audience of up to forty participants to meet face to face, bond, and get to know each other,
* To follow up on issues and decisions taken at last year’s summit, and to identify and explore other areas of common concern,
* To exchange information about existing local projects to provide tool kits to each other.

As in 2009, Bühl/Baden, in southern Germany, was the location. Bühl city council, which hosts the annual Bühl International Bluegrass Festival, placed first-rate facilities in Bühl Civic Centre at the disposal of the Summit, free of charge. Thirty people from twelve countries - including Rienk Janssen, IBMA board member, and John Wirtz, chair of the IBMA international committee - came at their own expense to take active part in the Summit, and were welcomed to Bühl by the mayor, Herr Hans Striebel. In two days of intense discussion, participants identified the following subjects as matters of priority, and examined them in working groups:

* Associations and membership, including the future structure of the EBMA and its relationship with national associations;
* The future form of a European bluegrass magazine and website;
* The involvement of young people in bluegrass;
* Festivals (including sponsorship and legal issues) and the promotion in the US of bluegrass from Europe and other non-US regions.

A bluegrass concert starring Blackjack (CZ), sponsored by the city of Bühl and provided free of charge to the Summit and its participants, was held on Saturday 6 February at 8.00 p.m. in the Schütte-Keller, a focal point of bluegrass activity in Bühl.

At 1.00 p.m. on Sunday 7 February, proceedings ended among a general spirit of friendship and common purpose. The work groups will continue to develop proposals to the EBMA board or for a more general purpose. There was full agreement that the second Summit had been successful in carrying constructive cooperation a stage further, and plans are being made for a third Summit in February 2010. Comments from attenders included:

'I am really pleased with some of the points discussed at this second meeting and it is obvious that we now have an established event to allow for open discussion of the issues that concern us all in Europe and in our different countries.'
'I think we've placed another milestone in establishing a Pan-European bluegrass awareness and legacy, and I see our small but strong community making each time little but significant steps forward.'
'I'm really excited about the next two years and I think Buhl is going to become a central part of the European bluegrass calendar.'
'Good meeting and I feel good about the future.'
'I was so moved all three days feeling the European spirit during the discussions and during the jam sessions.'

Many photos taken during the Summit, a report by Friedrich Hog (in German) on the Blackjack concert, and coverage in the local press can all be seen here.