Bluegrass Music

Youth Scholarships Available from SEMBMA

Since 2020, the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association has offered scholarship money to deserving youth ages 12-18 for use with lessons on stringed instruments or vocals (either online or in-person) to help promote bluegrass and old-time music with the younger generation. The COVID pandemic did a lot to get people, especially kids, to get interested in learning musical instruments since they would be stuck at home. However, SEMBMA has had a difficult time finding qualifying youth for these scholarships, even after many internet blasts and mailings to area music stores and schools.

As a member of the Scholarship/Education Committee for SEMBMA, it amazes me how something like this is is being passed on by qualified students. We have had a few applicants, but most of them have wanted to use the funds for non-educational purposes. We do have restrictions, but if that student can show that they are truly interested in improving on his/her playing of guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, or even singing, and can show us that they are already moving forward in that talent, we will help them without hesitation.

At this time, SEMBMA is helping sponsor one young banjo player named Dante, who is making a name for himself locally at jam sessions and sitting in with various bluegrass bands in the area. We are currently helping to pay for online lessons he is receiving from award-winning banjoist Kristin Scott Benson of The Grascals. She has told SEMBMA how impressed she has been with Dante’s playing and dedication to the banjo.

I remember seeing a young girl performing at the Michigan Old-Time Fiddlers Contest back in October ( I am still kicking myself for not getting her name, as she would be a perfect candidate for one of our scholarships. I have called out to the contest organizers to see if they have information on getting in touch with her.

The International Bluegrass Music Association has long supported youth programs. I had previously mentioned the Junior Appalachian Musicians program, as well as other programs in post way back ( I will definitely be doing more work in locating and recruiting young people into the bluegrass fold and hoping to provide them with needed scholarship money to take lessons. I scratch my head regarding this, as this is “easy money” for the right youth. When I look at the younger talent in the bluegrass field, including Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, Ryan Holladay, and a few others, I would think that there are plenty of other young people wanting to achieve that success.

Anyone reading this and knowing of a youth interested in expanding on his/her bluegrass and old-time string music knowledge, please refer them to the scholarship application on the SEMBMA website:

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Music

IBMA 2023 Award Ballots

Well, it’s that time of year again. The International Bluegrass Music Association sends out its first round balloting for the 2023 awards. Since I am no longer a member, I don’t get to nominate or vote, but I am still on the Association’s email list, so I get the announcements. Also, my inbox gets inundated with dozens of emails from artists, managers, booking agents and record companies with “For Your Consideration” in the subject line.

For anyone not familiar with the IBMA’s process, the first round consists of any member can write in anyone that they want for any category (bands, musicians, vocalists, songs, albums) and send it back. The second round usually lists about 10 names in each category, from which you select five. The final round lists five or so nominees, for which you choose one. There are other awards given out during the business days at World of Bluegrass that are usually chosen by the board members, such as the Momentum Awards and Hall of Fame recipients.

I have always been disillusioned by the IBMA awards, much like my apathy towards the Grammys. The mass membership does not critically look at the past year, especially when it comes to the nominations of vocalists and musicians. In each category, easily 80% of the names are repeats from the previous years, whether or not those artists have put out any recorded material during the year. Songs and albums are pretty much current, but that has a lot more to do with how well the record companies and publicists have done their job rather than how innovative that song or recording is.

When I was a lot more involved with the IBMA, as well as subscribing to Bluegrass Junction on Sirius/XM and talking more with artists, I could tell throughout the year who would win an award without doubting myself. I honestly do not pay much attention now. I am glad that some younger artists such as Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle, and my good friend Bronwyn Keith-Hynes are getting recognized without too much prejudice from the traditionalists. However, I was never really interested in award ceremonies, even when some of my work was nominated at the Detroit Music Awards years ago. They may look good on a resume, but personally, I appreciated a positive comment from someone that I didn’t know more than a plaque or statuette.

As for the Momentum and Hall of Fame Awards, that is even more political, so to speak. While I was a member of Leadership Bluegrass, I was part of a small group that was petitioning to get Hazel Dickens to be a member of the HOF. She was already a recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award back in the 90s, but we felt that she belonged in the HOF due to her extensive work in songwriting. She was finally inducted in 2017 with her early performing partner Alice Gerard, right before I resigned from Leadership Bluegrass due to its political involvement.

I know that the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) has similar awards at its conference in January, but I have never paid too much attention to it. Perhaps this upcoming year I will, as I do plan on attending the 2024 conference (Please, no family tragedies!). While SPBGMA is not as influential as IBMA, and it does value the more traditional side of bluegrass, I have some faith that SPBGMA values its membership’s thoughts and opinions more than the IBMA. And it has great jam sessions just like IBMA.

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Music

Norman Blake and Peter Rowan

The 2022 IBMA Hall of Fame inductees this year include three well-deserved champions of the music format. The awards will be presented to radio broadcast pioneer Paul “Moon” Mullins, multi-instrumentalist Norman Blake, and vocalist/guitarist Peter Rowan. Allow me to speak a bit on Blake and Rowan.

For Norman Blake, this award should have been presented long ago. His history with Americana music is legendary. After service in the US Army, he moved to Nashville to become a sought-after studio musician. His early career in Music City included a long-time stint with Johnny Cash, appearing on a number of his albums and the much-heralded television show. His friendship with Johnny and June Carter lasted long after that tenure, as he appeared on June’s final album, released just after her death in 2003. He also appeared on Bob Dylan’s classic Nashville Skyline album.

What he is probably best known for is his guitar work on the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? film. His style fit perfectly with the time period of the film, and I do believe that no other guitarist could have captured those period sounds. He also toured with many of the other artists for the Down From the Mountain world tour. He and his wife Nancy have always been an institution in acoustic music performance, switching between guitars, violins, mandolins, and cellos to create one of the most beautiful acoustic musical atmospheres. I still remember an incident years ago at the Wheatland Music Festival near Mount Pleasant, Michigan. At a smaller stage, a local artist failed to show up, and the two of them took it upon themselves to get up on stage and entertain the crowd. It was a beautiful moment in musical time.

Musically, what I value most about him is the work that he did with Tony Rice. The two Blake & Rice albums are amazing to listen to. Both men are geniuses on the six-strings, and complement each other with their unique styles. Both of these albums continue to remain on my “often played” list, and I implore anyone out there reading this to buy one or both of these classic acoustic guitar albums. In many articles that I have read regarding Blake, either as a direct interview or a third-party observance, he has never really considered himself a bluegrass guitarist. However, just one listen to any of his classic songs, such as “Whiskey for Breakfast,” “Ginseng Sullivan,” or “Church Street Blues,” there is no denying that his style of guitar playing has influenced a number of today’s bluegrass pickers. Search him out on YouTube, or check out some of his performance and instructional videos on .

Peter Rowan came to recognition as one of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys back in the mid-1960s. While his time in the band was not long, it was enough for bluegrass fans and critics to see how powerful of a singer this kid from Massachusetts really was. During his time there, he co-wrote with Monroe one of bluegrass’ most popular standard songs, “Walls of Time.” As the 60s progressed, Rowan left the Blue Grass Boys and looked for alternative means to express himself. He worked with David Grisman in Earth Opera, then formed Seatrain with fellow ex-Blue Grass Boy Richard Greene along with former members of The Blues Project.

By the early 1970s, his bluegrass roots came calling back, first in the progressive bluegrass project Muleskinner with Greene, Grisman and guitarist Clarence White, then with the jam-session-turned-legend Old & In The Way with Grisman, Vassar Clemens and Jerry Garcia.. Throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, Rowan would perform in various folk, bluegrass, and reggae projects, including working with his brothers in The Rowans, as well as his daughter Amanda. His most popular project during this time was the country/Western swing band The Mexican Air Force.

During the early 2000s, he recorded two phenomenal albums with guitarist Tony Rice as the Rowan & Rice Quartet. During a tour to support the second album Quartet is when I got to see what a charming and personable man Rowan is. I was finishing writing an article on the band’s mandolinist Sharon Gilchrist, and was backstage at the show in Ann Arbor talking to Gilchrist, Rice and Rowan, who had a dozen people around him like he was some sort of prophet or preacher. He looked a bit tired, but you could see that he truly enjoyed talking about his personal history as well as anything musically related. He never took advantage of his status in the bluegrass music field, instead enjoying listening to others who had stories as well.

Rowan’s catalogue is massive. However, I do recommend checking out the Old & In The Way albums as well as the Muleskinner CD/DVD recording of a television show that the band did, replacing Bill Monroe due to the bus breaking down on the way to the studio. Songs like “Midmight Moonlight,” Panama Red,” and “Knocking On Your Door” showcase a beautiful voice that will stand the test of time in bluegrass.

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Music Musicians

Bluegrass Jamming

Another Casino Guitars video, another comment from me.

This time, Baxter and Jonathan discuss ways that musicians can meet other musicians to jam with or form bands. They recommend the usual options, such as guitar stores having a bulleting board, open mics at bars, and searching the internet. They also suggest hitting community colleges that have music programs and talking your friends into learning an instrument.

My one and only gripe about these guys is that they are too electric-centric. They never really look at the acoustic side of guitar music. Within the video, they talk about finding the local blues music society for seeking musicians. Now Casino Guitars is a store located in North Carolina, which is in a region big on bluegrass music. There are loads of festivals in the area, and there is a rich bluegrass history from North Carolina (Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson for starters).

As for bluegrassers, we are a well-informed community regarding musicians. Even up here in Michigan, which is definitely not a hotbed for bluegrass business, there is still enough communication going around to know what is out there. There are three viable bluegrass associations in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula that spread news as well as make available to their memberships scheduled jam sessions.

Best of all, bluegrass festivals are a fantastic resource for musicians looking to play with others, whether it be to just jam or perhaps start a band. This has been going on for decades, and will surely continue now that restrictions from the pandemic are slowly being lifted. Bluegrass festivals are unique regarding these amateur parking lot jam sessions. You never see anything like this at rock, country, or jazz festivals. People go there to listen to the music, period. Bluegrass audiences have a high percentage of people that also play musical instruments. Many show up at the festivals with the only intention of jamming, not really caring if they see a band on stage.

I have mentioned it before, that the professional bluegrass musicians performing on stage also like to walk in the parking lots and jam along with the amateurs. There is a great bond with professional bluegrass artists and their audience members. They all get to know each other personally, and part of that is jamming with one another after shows. That is something you do not see at other music festivals.

A few weeks back, I posted a video of a jam session at the SPBGMA conference that happened in January. This is a great example of what makes bluegrass people unique. Music is in the blood, heart and soul of bluegrassers. At SPBGMA and IBMA conferences, jam sessions happen in every corner of the sponsoring hotel. Rooms are set up just for late-night jamming. Old friends reunite, and new friendships are created continually. I miss the early days of the Americana Music Association’s conferences. There would be a number of jam sessions going on, but that seemed to disappear as the organization grew. Fortunately, jamming is still encouraged at SPBGMA and IBMA.

Jamming has become so much a part of bluegrass that Pete Wernick, whom we all know as Dr. Banjo, created three jamming videos and has established a classroom setting program to instruct people on the principles and etiquette of bluegrass jamming.

So if you are beginning to learn guitar, banjo, mandolin, or violin/fiddle, and want to learn what it is like to be in a ensemble situation, consider bluegrass music. We bluegrassers are a welcoming community. I leave you with a great example of this community feeling. Alan Bibey (mandolinist with Grasstowne) is having a great jam session with some very young pickers.

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Music

IBMA Awards: Pretty Much Predictable

OK, this COVID is still knocking me on my butt, but I’m tired of lying in bed doing nothing, so I will at least try to write a small blog on the IBMA awards from two weeks ago.

So Billy Strings won Entertainer of the Year. No argument here, he’s been touring relentlessly over the past year performing at bluegrass and not-so-bluegrass festivals to thousands. Is his style akin to Bill Monroe or Flatt & Scruggs? Hardly, but he is helping to keep the format in the spotlight. If it were not for Billy, I am sure that bluegrass would not be half as popular as it is now.

Billy also won Guitar Player of the Year. Again, no argument. For the past few years and probably another five or more in the future, I see that award passing between Billy and Molly Tuttle.

I am extremely proud of my good friend Bronwyn Keith-Hynes for winning Fiddle Player of the Year. She has busted her tail this past year recording her own album as well as recorded and performed with a number of other acts. She has recently announced that she is leaving Mile Twelve after seven strong years. I know that whatever she does, it will be amazing! Big hug from Detroit, Bronwyn!

Most of the other award winners were predictable. Partly because live music is still trying to get back fully on its feet, partly because the voting membership doesn’t really pay attention to anything new coming out. Even though I haven’t been a IBMA member for four or five years, I still get the ballots emailed to me, and I just shake my head. Bluegrass will never be big if the audience refuses to open its mind. Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglass, The Punch Brothers, and now Billy Strings are being innovative, yet most listeners just want to listen to re-hash standards. Bluegrass will eventually get stale and, like old bread, will be tossed in the trash.

For the list of winners, go to

The IBMA hasn’t even posted the winners on its own website. Sad.

As for the Momentum Awards, I won’t even go there. You can if you want.

I’m exhausted just doing this little bit of typing. COVID is truly a virus that will bring you down, but I still refuse to take the vaccine, so I will just keep plodding through.

Chew on it and comment.


Temporarily Down (Thanks, COVID!)

Apologies, but I caught the COVID, so I’ll be out of action for the next week or two. When I get back, I’ll talk about the IBMA awards. Until then, stay safe.

Bluegrass Music

Alison Krauss Inducted into Bluegrass HOF

The International Bluegrass Music Association has made its announcement for this year’s Hall of Fame induction. The three inductees are definitely worthy. The Stoneman Family should have been inducted years ago, given the fact that they had been playing bluegrass music for years, especially Pops Stoneman. Lynn Morris was at her peak of popularity in bluegrass when health concerns forced her to step away from the stage about a decade or so back.

Then there is Alison Krauss. For some music fans who dabble in bluegrass, she is the first thing that comes to their minds, even before the thought of Bill Monroe or Flatt & Scruggs. She developed a style that put bluegrass music close to soft rock or easy-listening pop. Traditionalists frown upon her sound, but one has to admit, her music was extremely popular, and did bring a lot of interest into bluegrass as a whole.

Alison was a child fiddle prodigy, winning numerous contests before signing with Rounder Records at the age of 17. She was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry at 22, and has won 27 Grammy Awards during her career. Her voice is definitely not high lonesome, but that is what attracts many to her. It has carried her into many other music formats, including the award-winning work with legendary rock vocalist Robert Plant and country music star Brad Paisley.

Her band Union Station provides an amazing canvas for her, yet she does not look at them as backup musicians. Members have shared lead vocals with her, and have gone on to great recognition as well. The live shows of AKUS have always been powerful. One of my favorite live albums of all time is the band’s album from 2004. Every song is spot-on! It sounds as fresh today as it did 17 years ago.

Yes, the past 15 years or so has seen very little bluegrass output from Alison. But unlike s many others, she never let bluegrass be a barrier to her. That remarkable voice was meant to sing different genres. It is so recognizable that you can tell it is hers from the first note. Moreover, the role of the female in bluegrass today owes so much to Alison. Not only was her voice different, but she made it possible for a woman to lead a bluegrass band, play an instrument with amazing skill, and be taken seriously. Take a look at a list of today’s bluegrass bands, and one can see that at least 10 percent of them have a lineup that parallels what AKUS has been doing since the 1990s.

Alison’s work changed the face of bluegrass music. Not for better or worse, but for exposure. She helped keep it in the spotlight during her early years as well as was a major part of the success of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, especially her vocal performance of “Down to the River to Pray.” Through it all, she has kept up a humble and warm personality. People love her, and she is very appreciative of that. There is a reason that she received the National Medal of the Arts form President Trump in 2019!

So congratulations, Alison. I am happy for all of the success that you have had, and my one hope is that you put out another straight-ahead bluegrass fiddle album in the future.

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Music

Tidbits: Garcia, Ellis, SEMBMA, Circle TV, YouTube

Hey! Remember back on May 16, 2020 when my blog was about how the IBMA refuses to recognize Jerry Garcia as a viable influencer on bluegrass music ( WELL! It seems that this year’s World of Bluegrass virtual conference is having a presentation on Jerry and his work with the bluegrass music industry. Hmmm, I wonder where they got that idea from. Anyway, here’s a link to the description in the schedule: . It will be on October 1 at 11:00 am. I’m not expecting a thank you from IBMA, if you want to know.

Last Saturday the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association had its annual Hall of Honor ceremony. I was proud to see that Marvin “Red” Ellis was inducted. I wrote about him in a previous blog (, and will continue to research the history of bluegrass music in the Detroit area. On a related note, there was a good article on the Miller Brothers in the September 2020 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited. The Miller Brothers were originally from Kentucky, lived for a while in Indiana, them moved up to the Detroit area for auto factory work. While in Michigan, they recorded a few bluegrass albums in the early 1970s. They are definitely a group that I hope to research more for the SEMBMA Hall of Honor.

Speaking of SEMBMA, the Association is now awarding scholarships to youth 13-18 years of age who are interested in pursuing further education with bluegrass music. The scholarships will be paid directly to the instructor/institution, and lessons can be in-person, over the internet, or some form of video. Students can be studying a stringed instrument (guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, autoharp) or studying vocals. For more information on the scholarships and to secure an application form, go to . Submission deadline is January 1, 2021 and may require a personal interview of the applicants by SEMBMA board members and/or the scholarship committee.

Late to the Party Department: I just discovered that Circle TV ( is available in my area over the air (I don’t have cable, and my mom’s cable service sucks to say the least). I don’t watch television much, maybe an hour a day, but now that I can watch Circle, I may make use of it since the pandemic still won’t let us go to see live music. I get to watch the Opry on Saturday night (although host Bobby Bones irritates the crap out of me), reruns of Hee Haw and The Beverly Hillbillies, some Ditty TV programs, Daily & Vincent, and even some CMA songwriter programs. Pass me the Doritos!

YouTube fiddle lessons videos: I may have mentioned FiddleHed here before, but if not, I highly recommend checking him out, even if you don’t play fiddle. I have an article on him for Fiddler magazine coming up in the Winter 20/21 issue. I bring him up because he is one of the few that actually “teach” the tunes. I recently did a search for fiddle instruction for the Bill Monroe song “Uncle Pen.” A lot of videos came up, but most of them were hardly instructional. They are usually just a camera pointed at the fingerboard during the “lesson,” and no slow downs or explanation of what the fingering is. That is not instruction, that is just showing off that you can do the lick. Thank you again, FiddleHed!

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Music

The Sir Walter Raleigh Statue and Why I Left the IBMA

I was recently scanning the articles on the Bluegrass Today website and came up on the following op-ed from former International Bluegrass Music Association employee Abby Lee Hood:

I recommend a full reading of it, but in short, Hood suggests that the IBMA stop using the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh as part of its World of Bluegrass advertising representation. The image is of the statue of Raleigh (namesake for the city in which WOB is held yearly) with a banjo slung over his shoulder. Cute, funny, eye-catching. But Hood thinks that the use of Sir Raleigh is offensive since he had reportedly murdered native Americans while attempting to colonize early America for the English.

Of course, the comments to her editorial were about 90% against. Most people saying what I stated in the previous paragraph and that bluegrass music should not get involved with politics.

Well my friends, it is much too late for that. It is about time I talk about why I resigned from Leadership Bluegrass and no longer am a member of the IBMA (which I have hinted at in previous blogs).

I was a member of Leadership Bluegrass Class of 2014. I met some fantastic people there in the bluegrass music industry, many of whom with which I still stay in contact. Our chat group was continually discussing concerns about promoting various aspects of the music. Then around 2017, things started to change. The California Bluegrass Association participated in a gay pride parade with a float that had IBMA signage on it. This was never approved by the IBMA, but the executive director (Paul Schiminger) and the board did nothing to prevent it or reprimand the party. Soon after, there was praise on the chat group for this person taking that initiative. Then, there was a debate regarding boycotting the WOB at Raleigh because of North Carolina’s stance on transgender people using the bathrooms of their choice. This was obviously a few vocal people speaking for themselves and not the membership, which is very family-oriented and ripe with Christian values. Those vocal members also made it a point that if anyone had a dissenting opinion, they were considered bigoted and should not be heard from (sound familiar?).

I decided that it was at the point that I should resign from Leadership Bluegrass, since it seemed that the direction of LBG (as well as the IBMA in general) was straying away from the association’s Mission Statement: “The IBMA is the non-profit music association that connects, educates, and empowers bluegrass professionals and enthusiasts, honoring tradition and encouraging innovation in the bluegrass community worldwide.” I sent in my LBG membership identification materials to the IBMA office with my letter of intent.

I received a phone call from Mr. Schiminger a few days later, and we had a productive discussion on the matter. However, my mind did not change, and I did not renew my IBMA membership when it became due later that year. I also discussed this with one of my songwriting partners, which did not change my mind either.

As the years have rolled on, I have noticed that the IBMA has taken a stronger political stance (leaning left), and seem to be negligent of understanding the values held by a large contingent (probably a large majority) of the membership. Recently, the IBMA was supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement (go to that organization’s website to read about its Marxist agenda) by participating in a Blackout Tuesday with its website. Yet they have never spoken about the vandalizing of the Bill Monroe statue that stood in front of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, which was done by the BLM protesters back in June.

Former IBMA employee Abby Lee Hood has been a voice in the leftist protests (check her Twitter account). She worked for the association for a few months in 2019, yet her influence has had an impact on Mr. Schiminger, the current staff, and the board members. The thought of promoting bluegrass music in the community has become secondary to the appeasing of the left. It has only been in the last two years that “Diversity and Inclusiveness” has been added it the Values section. The IBMA doesn’t want to offend anyone that is so easily offended and will resort to violence if their demands are not met.

What do I see in IBMA’s future? Well, just like every other association surrendering to the Woke generation, there will need to be a certain ratio of minority and gender-based members on the board, with no concern of their expertise in the bluegrass music industry, but only to make sure that those lifestyles are represented. Perhaps for the yearly awards given out, the removal of the Gospel Recording of the Year replaced with, say, Inspirational Recording of the Year, so as to appease the non-Christians and atheists. We may even see a removal of all images and references to Bill Monroe. Yes, he is considered the Father of Bluegrass Music, but he also participated in comedy routines early in his career that consisted of blackface performers. Think about it.

Part of this left-move by the IBMA is the fault of the membership. Most do not really care about politics, as long as the WOB presents a lot of great bluegrass talent during the fan fair days in Raleigh. It is about time the membership take a look at what the IBMA does with the money it gets from its members. There are a lot of great programs that the association has continually presented. However, some are becoming political and PC-correct so as not to offend the few that are vocal.

I suggest that if you are a IBMA member, then you should thoroughly read the associations’s website (, closely examine what the association does in comparison to the Mission Statement, and if you are confused or have concerns, then contact the IBMA office or one of the board members. It it their job to listen to your concerns.

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Music

More on the IBMA World of Bluegrass (and a short note on Tex)

The list of performers for the IBMA World of Bluegrass fan fair this year has been set, and all of the performances will be streamed online. You can go to for the list.

According to what IBMA Executive Director Paul Schiminger states, many of these performances have already been filmed. So, one will be watching a “live” performance that is not actually live. I can understand some of the reasoning for this, specifically that no one can trust the streaming online, with possible freeze-ups and blackouts. Well, that is what you can expect when a lot of people will be watching it online for free.

Free? Well, according to the press release, all of the viewing of performances are free IF you have a Swapcard. Trying to find out what Swapcard truly does is like doing a scavenger hunt. Swapcard is some business headquartered in France that allows a person to attend scheduled conferences and events through its app. Some things are free, like networking with other Swapcard members, but there is a $7.00 surcharge for attending other online events. That’s about all that I found out on the surface. To find out more, you have to JOIN Swapcard and get the app. Gee, that sort of sounds like Nancy Pelosi telling us Congress needed to pass the Obamacare bill before we could see what was exactly in the bill.

Fact of Life #1: NOTHING IS FREE. I do not care what Bernie Sanders tells you! Whenever you are told that something is free, you will pay for it eventually, whether it be through money and taxes, or with some of your precious time, or your legacy after you have passed on, or your sanity. I am truly suspicious of any organization telling you that something is free but only if you have a certain app on your phone/computer. That app will make you pay, either with money or by slamming you with pop-up ads that can never go away unless you pay to have those removed (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, the list goes on). If anyone out there can give me a simple and complete explanation of Swapcard, I would welcome it!

So, in short, you will be paying for pre-recorded performances that are probably not much different than those that the artists put on their YouTube or Facebook channels. I understand that the IBMA (as well as a few other music business associations) want to stay in touch and relevant with its membership. However, everyone is in the same boat with the Coronavirus pandemic. Artists have found ways to perform online with a tip-jar situation. Why is the IBMA making it so confusing to attend a virtual performance (I ranted about attending the IBMA business conference in a previous blog)? On the surface, it just makes me want to participate even less than before (which was a big NO).

On a final non-related note, I just learned that Alan “Tex” Booker, a long-time resident of my city of Hamtrmack, passed away recently. If there ever was a definition for “character,” one only had to look at Tex. He would be seen wandering the streets of town with his cowboy hat and T-shirt marked SECURITY during celebrations such as the Hamtramck Festival (which would be on Labor Day weekend, but of course was cancelled) and Paczaki Day. Every store owner knew him. He was a pain in the butt many times, but his heart was there. He will surely be missed by those who love Hamtramck. Rest in Peace, Tex.

Chew on it and comment.