Behind the Scenes at International Bluegrass (Jan. 2013)

Bluegrass Music—your third place?

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to “The Ted Radio Hour” on National Public Radio, and the speaker was talking about the importance of finding “a third place” in our lives.  Home is your first place, she explained. Work is the second. A third place is where you go to hang out with friends and enjoy yourself, a community where you fit in. For some it’s a church group, a civic organization, or maybe a neighborhood pub.

For many of us reading this publication, bluegrass music is our “third place.” It’s a community of industry friends and fans who spend a great deal of our time playing, supporting and enjoying bluegrass music.  The worldwide bluegrass family is one of the best third places I know of—where we can find a place to learn, grow, do business, hear some amazing music, meet some fascinating characters of all ages and cultures that we absolutely never would have met otherwise, to laugh and have some fun. To belong. It’s like walking into that bar on the Cheers television show, where everyone knows your name.

  Photo, Nancy Cardwell

This is a part of our mission at IBMA: to bring more people into the bluegrass circle, so that those out on the road performing the music and working in other behind-the-scenes roles can be successful and keep doing what they do so well. But in helping new fans discover some of the best music on the planet, we also give them a place to make new friends—at dozens of festivals, concerts, local bluegrass association events, and (of course) at World of Bluegrass every fall.

In this issue of International Bluegrass there’s an article about the great band Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, who in conjunction with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store will reach out to thousands of potential new bluegrass fans as they’re enjoying some biscuits and gravy and a hot cup of coffee at restaurants across the country. There’s an article about how Flatt & Scruggs touched and connected the lives of Jerry Shereshewsky, Pete Wernick and Saburo Watanabe Inoue 50 years ago. This month—the beginning of a new year—is a great time to think about how you will share bluegrass music with someone. It could be the gift of a great CD, a concert ticket, taking the time to teach someone a few chords on the guitar, visiting a school with your band, or maybe you need to talk to someone about joining IBMA and getting more actively involved in supporting the business that keeps the banjos rolling.

Bluegrass is a great “third place,” and I hope to see many of you there with some new friends, sometime soon in the coming year!

-Nancy Cardwell,
IBMA Executive Director