Well, with a heavy heart but no regret, I have decided to not attend this year’s AmericanaFest, and I am not renewing my membership to the Americana Music Association. My decision is similar to why I left the International Bluegrass Music Association.
The AMA has decided to for a committee to find ways to promote musicians based on race, gender choice, and sexual preference. The IBMA launched a similar program a few years back. Both were supportive of the BLM movement (a Marxist organization that it fully admitted to on its website until recently when the co-founder was caught red-handed purchasing five homes around the country), yet when the BLM/Antifa riots reached Nashville last summer and vandalized the Bill Monroe statue outside of the Ryman Auditorium, neither organization did anything to either condemn the crime nor help support the clean-up.
I left the IBMA a few years back,, but I remained in the AMA primarily due to my friendship with other members, board members, and staff. However, I had been on the fence the past two years because of the organization’s political involvement. This recent decision by the AMA helped make my decision to bow out. I had been a member for over 20 years, and had served in a volunteer capacity for about 15 years. This included stage management, chauffeuring, showcase organization, and a dozen other jobs. I met a lot a good people along the way, including artists, managers, booking agents, and publicists. The networking was great, to say the least. However, the time had come where I had to decide between my beliefs and going with the flow.
Music organizations such as the AMA and the IBMA are there to promote music first and foremost. The color of one’s skin or the choice of one’s personal identity should not matter if the talent is there. Both organizations have reneged on their original philosophies and are now more interested in an artist’s identity instead of the talent. Political correctness has led to being woke.
With the AMA, one can see that it would eventually lead to that direction. Many of the artists come from a more liberal background. Being a member for over 20 years, I could see that it was an almost inevitable move. I highly doubt that my leaving will affect anything. I will miss going to Nashville and working the conference, seeing old friends and making new ones, but I have my standards as well.
In the case of the IBMA, I have gone over this before, but the direction it is taking may have different consequences. The bluegrass community is a wonderful melting pot. Liberals and conservatives, hippies and rednecks, traditionalists and progressives, all coming together for the enjoyment of acoustic music. Debates consist of musical matters (Percussion? Electric bass? No banjo?), not anything about the race, creed, sexual orientation, or political views. A few years back, the powers-that-be discreetly began implementing more woke philosophies and actions. Now, most of the IBMA membership only care about concerts and such, but are dumb to how the organization is spending membership dues. There were a few like me that left, including one or two A-list bluegrass performers. The IBMA marches on, but it will be interesting to see what it will be like in five or so years as the organization becomes more woke. I don’t see too much negativity happening with the AMA as it moves in that direction.
So I leave the AMA. The only national music organization that I am currently a member is the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America, which has much smaller representation than the IBMA but is much more dedicated to the music. There are a few local groups that I belong to, such as the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association and the Michigan Fiddlers Association. For now, I will work harder with those groups to promote the music that I love.
Chew on it and comment.