Sunday, 3 January 2016

2016: Calling on my neighbours.

Firstly, let me wish you a very Happy New Year and I hope that your 2016 will be everything that you could hope for.

For myself, I intend to improve my mandolin playing so that I can comfortably sit in on a few tunes with friends and keep up with them and to reduce my golf handicap to a more respectable level...and finish the decorating (amongst other overdue household tasks). I can almost hear my wife asking when the garage will become more organised too!

But let me focus on Bluegrass here (mainly because organising the garage is too scary!) and let me say that, while I am a member of the EBMA Board, this is just my personal view.

There was a recent article which referenced a discussion about the role of IBMA and SPBGMA and one of the comments was quoted in relation to the role of the EBMA.  Writing a 'compare & contrast' article about the two US-based organisation and EBMA would be an article in itself but, here, I wanted to talk about some of the things that I would like to see in 2016.

When I joined the EBMA Board - and I still hold the view - that we should have a number of 'audiences' or membership focuses (or foci, to be more accurate) and these are reflected in the statement on the EBMA website. This fits with my opinion of the 'membership groups' that I perceive:
  • attending to the wider promotional aspects of the organisation and Bluegrass music
  • a networking focal point for fans and musicians
  • a support/developmental aspect.
It is at this point that my non-Bluegrass life interrupts and asks 'If those are your aims [broad goals], what are your objectives [specific and measurable outcomes]?' One tangible outcome has been the scholarship awarded to Tabitha Agnew and Evan Lyon to attend the Sore Fingers Summer School (see the Blog article from November). The website continues to be reviewed and refined and there are other initiatives that are being developed that will be discussed and announced in the coming months. but the big question for me, as an EBMA Board member, is this: How well does the EBMA represent Bluegrass in Europe? Don't misunderstand! There is a very high level of commitment within the EBMA Board to promote, support, advertise and discuss all aspects of Bluegrass music in Europe and many hours of voluntary work go into these activities but I would love to see more input from our  Bluegrass friends in France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and every other country within Europe.

When I think about Bluegrass, my first thoughts are not about IBMA or SPBGMA or even EBMA! My first thoughts are about the Bluegrass fans I meet and sit alongside at festivals and concerts, the musicians who spend time after concerts talking (or playing) with fans and the countless volunteers who work to put on local events and festivals and run their national Bluegrass associations.

The EBMA is working very hard to review and improve its social media outlets (blog, website, Facebook pages etc) and we have the means to help our Bluegrass neighbours in all European countries to help spread the word about forthcoming events, concerts, jam sessions and music schools. In 2016 I would like to see more national Bluegrass associations, Bluegrass festival organisers and concert promoters talking to us at the EBMA about what is going on in your region and how we might help spread the word on your behalf - after all - we are Bluegrass music fans too!