2020 has been a tough year for everyone. In our bluegrass music world, festivals were canceled, jam sessions suspended, concerts foregone, and the economic fiber of the music world, including this newspaper, stretched terribly thin. There were some highlights though, reminding us of the positive camaraderie that can be built through music and of the importance of the arts during difficult times.
On the good side, in 2020 the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) offered lots of online concerts, instructional materials, and even online participatory events. The IBMA Trust Fund also set aside $150,000 in funding to assist bluegrass musicians, agents, concert promoters, and more suffering during the time of covid. The San Diego Bluegrass Society (SDBS) kept its monthly newsletter coming, as did the North County Bluegrass and Folk Club (NCBFC), keeping San Diego’s two bluegrass non-profits strong. SDBS also kept its monthly instructed slow jam and Emma’s Gut Bucket Band weekly sessions going, albeit online, and managed to start a popular Bluegrass Meet up site, thanks to Roger Taylor.
NCBFC was able to organize a covid-safe bluegrass campout last fall. Wayne Rice’s long-running KSON Bluegrass Special Radio show was canceled, only to rise again on a new station within a matter of weeks! Not least, the Troubadour has kept itself going by creative adaptation to troubled times, mainly through the efforts of long-time leader Liz Abbott. Creative people have found ways to keep going during the challenging times of 2020. Thanks Liz, Wayne, IBMA, SDBS, NCBF, Roger and all of you for helping in this valiant effort. Let’s hope we are through the worst.
Turning to the New Year, I’m full of hope and optimism. Vaccines are on their way. We expect concerts and jam sessions by summer, possibly sooner. The Summergrass Bluegrass Festival is scheduled to return in August. As covid restrictions lift, business will rebound and the economic stress we have all experienced will begin to abate. Musicians of all stripes are itching to go with concerts, teaching, jam sessions, festivals, and more. Music fans are likewise chomping to get back at it. So, don’t be surprised to see a huge resurgence sometime in the first half of 2021.
As we enter a new year here are my Bluegrass Resolutions. What are yours?
- Stay Positive. We define our experiences by our attitude toward them. Be positive and your experiences will be positive.
- Stay Safe. Get vaccinated. Wear your mask and mind social distancing until advised by scientists and medical experts who know whereof they speak that it is safe to do otherwise.
- Support the Bluegrass Community. IBMA, SDBS, NCBFC, the Troubadour, and more are all here to support you. Keep your memberships up. Volunteer when you can. Read the Troubadour and pass it on!
- Tune Up! Tune up that instrument, replace the strings, and be ready to go!
- Be civil. Folks are stressed. Be civil to everyone and expect it in return.
The very best to all for a great new year!