World of Bluegrass set to pick on Music City in autumn

The International Bluegrass Music Association's (IBMA) annual World of Bluegrass events are aptly named. The world renowned Bluegrass music event is set for September 29 through October 5 at the Nashville Convention Center and the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. It has been dubbed the “must attend” week for people who are interested in the wide bluegrass world and are committed to the future success of the industry,

The week kicks off for industry professionals at the IBMA Business Conference sponsored by Bluegrass Unlimited magazine and D'Addario Strings. With more than 2,000 key music and entertainment leaders in one place from around the globe, this week is about building relationships with event producers, television and radio broadcasters, retailers, record labels, agents, consumers and hoards of other more behind-the-scenes players.It's a week for showcasing talent, as well as new ideas, new songs, new events, projects and merchandise.    

Keynote speaker a multiple award winner

This year’s keynote speaker, scheduled to address convention attendees on Monday, September 29, is Roger Brown, president of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. Former Berklee students, graduates and faculty read like a who’s who in the music industry, including Chris Pandolfi, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Mark Schatz and  many more. Since Brown became president, Berklee has added music performance majors in mandolin and banjo, making it possible for students to earn a degree with a focus on bluegrass, along with jazz and other types of popular music.    

Brown, a bluegrass fan himself, is a graduate of Davidson College with a degree in physics and a graduate of the Yale School of Management. Although best known as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, he’s also a drummer who has performed on several CDs of children’s music. Brown co-founded Bright Horizons Family Solutions in 1986 with his wife, Linda Mason, serving as CEO until 2002 for the organization which aids non-profit agencies working with at-risk children. Prior to 1986, he and Mason were co-directors of the Save the Children relief and development effort in Sudan, and worked on the border of Thailand with Cambodian refugees for CARE and UNICEF. Brown and Mason co-authored the book Rice, Rivalry, and Politics which examines the management of emergency relief efforts. Roger also co-founded Horizons for Homeless Children, which serves the needs of homeless children throughout the Boston area. He received the 1999 Caring Corporation Award from the Child Care Action Campaign and he was honored in 1997 by Working Mother magazine as one of the “25 Friends of the Family,” a title bestowed upon men who have made it easier for working parents to raise and nurture children. He was also named National Entrepreneur of the Year in 1996 by Ernst and Young/USA Today, and Best Entrepreneur by Business Week magazine in 1997.

New groups and familiar faces to perform

One of the benefits of attending IBMA’s World of Bluegrass Business Conference is checking out new talent, as well as new personnel and albums from current artists. The following artists will showcase during the conference: Balsam Range, Blue Highway, Cherryholmes, Cumberland Gap Connection, Dappled Grays, Dixie Bee Liners, The Farewell Drifters, The Gibson Brothers, The Lonesome River Band, Kathy Mattea, Alecia Nugent, Red Wine, Sawmill Road, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, The Charlie Sizemore Band, The SteelDrivers, Ernie Thacker, Donna Ulisse and Widow Maker.   

As an acknowledgment of the continued growth of bluegrass—both artistically and commercially—around the world, IBMA will sponsor for the first time a two-day International Summit on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Led by professional facilitator, bluegrass historian and broadcaster Fred Bartenstein, international attendees will take a look at current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges for bluegrass music outside of the U.S., as well as explore new ideas and options for the future and build consensus for priorities.  

Also new this year is the Crash Course for Bluegrass Songwriters, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 1.  The seminar is designed for bluegrass artists who want to take their writing to a more professional level and for songwriters interested in pitching their songs more effectively to artists in the bluegrass community.

The high point of the week is the International Bluegrass Music Awards Show, which will be hosted at the historically rich Ryman Auditorium on Thursday evening, Oct. 2. Fans and industry reps alike won't want to miss this salute to the year's outstanding achievements during a fast-paced evening of fabulous performances and the presentation of the industry's top awards.

Wrapping up the week with a bluegrass festival unlike any other, is Bluegrass Fan Fest (Oct. 3-5), sponsored in part by Martha White Foods, Martin Guitars and Knee Deep in Bluegrass. Inside the comfortable setting of the Nashville Convention Center, attendees will enjoy music from more than 60 acts on four stages, including the Main Stage, the Roots & Branches Stage, the Masters Workshop Stage and the Grand Master Fiddler Championship.  

Performing artists confirmed at press time include The Grascals, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Bradley Walker, Kathy Mattea, Cherryholmes, Blue Highway, Dailey & Vincent, Michael Martin Murphey, David Parmley & Continental Divide, Paul Williams & Victory Trio, The Greencards, Special Consensus, Larry Stephenson, Robin & Linda Williams and Their Fine Group, The Chapmans, Ralph Stanley II, Alecia Nugent, Grasstowne, Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain, Keith Sewell, NewFound Road, Blue Moon Rising, Circuit Riders, Balsam Range, The Freight Hoppers, The April Verch Band, Ramona Jones Family & Friends, G2 Bluegrass Band, The Maybelles, The Red Desert Ramblers, The Tina & Buddy Wright Group, The Songcatchers, Dennis Cash & Friends, plus more artists to be announced soon.

Proceeds from Fan Fest ticket sales benefit the Bluegrass Trust Fund, established to help bluegrass professionals during times of emergency need, as well as IBMA's marketing and educational events to promote the music year-round. All artists appearing at the event donate their time and talents for the cause.    

Tickets for all events are available at or by calling 888-GET-IBMA (615) 256-3222.  For discount rates on accommodations, call the event housing bureau at 1-877-259-4716.,

(all activities at the Nashville Convention Center unless otherwise noted)

Monday, September 29, 2008
Noon-1 p.m. Orientation (For All Attendees)

1:15-3 p.m.: Professional Development Seminars

1:15-5 p.m.: Crash Course for Artists  

3-6 p.m.: Exhibit Hall Open

6:30-8 p.m.: Keynote Address & Dinner

8-11 p.m.: Artist Showcases

11 p.m.-2 a.m.: After Hours Showcases, Jam Sessions

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.: International Summit (NEW)

10-11:30 a.m.: Professional Development Seminars

1:15-2:30 p.m.: IBMA Member Constituent Meetings

2-6:30 p.m. Exhibit Hall Open

2:45-3:45 p.m. Professional Development Seminars

4-6:30 p.m. Songwriter Showcase, sponsored by ASCAP   

6:30-8:15 p.m.: Song Circle 1 & 2   

8:30-11 p.m. Artist Showcases

11 p.m.-2 a.m.: After Hours Showcases, Jam Sessions  


Wednesday, October 1, 2008
8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.: International Summit

9 a.m.: Sign up for Gig Fair appointments

9:30 a.m.-11 a.m.: Sign up for Mentor Sessions

8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.: Golf Tournament*

11 am to 1 pm: Artist Showcase Brunch

1-5 p.m.: Health Fair, sponsored by MusiCares

1:30-6:30 p.m.: Exhibit Hall Open

1:15-3:45 p.m.: GIG FAIR

4-6 p.m.: Professional Development Seminars

4-7 p.m.: Crash Course for Bluegrass Songwriters (NEW)

7-8 p.m.: Bluegrass Songwriter Assoc. meeting

8:30-11 p.m. Artist Showcases

11 p.m.-2 a.m.: After Hours Showcases, Jam Sessions   

Thursday, October 2, 2008
9-10:30 a.m.: Town Hall Membership Meeting

11 a.m.-1:15 p.m.: Special Awards Luncheon

1:30-5 p.m.: Exhibit Hall Open

2-4 p.m.: DJ Taping Sessions

3-5 p.m.: Song Demo Listening Sessions

8:30-11 p.m.: INTERNATIONAL BLUEGRASS MUSIC AWARDS* - Ryman Auditorium   

Friday, October 3, 2008
8 a.m.: Fan Fest Ticket Sales Open

10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Utilizing Bluegrass in the Classroom Teacher Workshop

10:30 a.m.: Fan Fest Main Stage Opens

10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.: Exhibit Hall Open

11 p.m.-2 a.m.: After Hours Showcases, Jam Sessions

Saturday, October 4, 2008
8 a.m.: Fan Fest Ticket Sales Open

10:30 a.m.: Fan Fest Main Stage Opens

10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.: Exhibit Hall Open  

11 p.m.-2 a.m.: After Hours Showcases, Jam Sessions

Sunday, October 5, 2008
9 a.m.-Noon: Bluegrass Chapel/Gospel Show

*Separate ticketing required for certain functions.

All times listed: U.S. Central Time

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