Longtime IBMA member Rainer Zellner send us this report of the most recent Bluegrass Jamboree – Festival of Bluegrass and Americana Music. This unique annual European traveling Bluegrass/Americana package tour will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year.
A travel party of 15 climbed aboard the “Banjo-Bus” for a 26-day ride all over Germany in November/December 2017. The “northern lights theme” line-up included Lula Wiles, Songbirds (from Boston), The Lonesome Ace String Band (from Canada) and The Lonely Heartstring Band (from Boston). The number of people that have attended the tour reached close to 7000 in 2017, with some venues drawing 500 fans.
The venues played were high profile theaters, art centers, and music halls that present Bluegrass and
its roots in mixed programs of classical music, world music, American roots, folk and pop. The event reaches out to audiences that are new to the genre and introduce them to bluegrass as well as the related acoustic music formats. Over the years they have created a strong fan base for the event and a steadily growing appreciation for this American music style that is not that well known in the area. Audiences as usual reacted very enthusiastically, and were emotionally moved by the shows.
We get very strong support from all kind of media. It definitely helps to only present top performers in a carefully designed line up, so that we are covered in good art magazines and feuilletons of national and regional media. [Editors note: in the USA, feuilletons are known as the arts section of newspapers.]
This time the event included an impromptu morning show at a school in München/Bavaria that had 100 young students listen to bluegrass for the first time ever. The event was hosted by the American consulate in München. The Consul for Public Affairs Stephen Ibelli attended the event, as documented on the Facebook page of the consulate and on YouTube. The bus then headed to the world famous Hofbräuhaus for some great local food and beer, which got everybody ready for one of the regular highlight shows in München, a co-production between cultural center “Amerikahaus” and local production company Club2 Konzerte.
As an original incentive, some “Kentucky Midnight” bluegrass seeds in specially produced packaging were raffled every night among those who signed the mailing list. The 50 winners will now grow their own bluegrass on their windowsills!