Mountain Music's Journal
(Izzie & Al Worthen)
We departed from upstate New York on a beautiful fall day on Sunday, September 30th around noon heading west. Our 1st stop, as always, was Vittorio's Buon Appetito in Wickliffe, Ohio. After a great meal and a pleasant visit with our favorite waitress we hit the road again at 8:00PM and arrived at the Hampton Inn in Columbus around 11:00PM. Monday, Oct 1st -- on the road to Nashville at 11:00AM! At 6:00PM (5:00 Central Time) we checked into the Hilton and immediately went over to the Convention Center to register in order to be on time for the Keynote Address and dinner. We ran into several friends from Upstate NY including Tony Trischka, who was the keynote speaker this year, Bill Knowlton, host of the Bluegrass Ramble, and singer/song writer, John Cadley. John and Tony played together many years ago in the Down City Ramblers and it was great that they got to see each other before Tony went on stage. John joined us for the Keynote Address and dinner. It was a real thrill to hear a native Upstate New Yorker deliver the Keynote Address this year. Tony did a great job. His speech was rich in historical information, humor, and insight into where we are in Bluegrass today, how we got here, and where we may be heading in the future. Tony makes a good case for reaching out and being open to all genres of music. While some may not share his vision, he certainly offered us food for thought! As we were leaving the Convention Center for the evening we ran into Lawson Peets, Director of Outside Marketing for Deering, and Todd Wright, who is currently running the Deering Store here in Nashville -- both Todd and Lawson were once key Gibson employees. They seem to be doing very well with Team Deering! I couldn't resist taking this photo looking down Broadway on our way back to our Hotel. Tuesday, October 2nd, started with a fabulous custom cooked omelette at the buffet here at the Hilton. Wow! What a way to start the day. After recovering, we spent the rest of the day at the Convention Center visiting with our suppliers and doing some serious ordering. Saga has some great new dreadnought guitars with Adirondack tops! Their new KM-1000 mandolin will prove to be one of the best values available today. Their KM-505 "A" model is sure to be a winner as well. We also stocked up on Gold Tone CC-Mini banjos, the Bob Carlin 12" pot frailing banjos, and a new 12" pot Guitar Banjo. I got to jam with Wayne Rogers, President of Gold Tone, and Bob Carlin & Dan Levenson at the Gold Tone Booth. I was playing a CC-Mini! Fun!! (see photos of our visit to Gold Tone) We also spent time with Team Deering including: Carolina Bridges, Lawson Peets, Todd Wright, Eddie Adcock, and Mark Johnson. Deering continues to be number one in domestic banjo manufacturing. We also stopped by the First Quality Music Booth to offer our condolences. Bill Sullivan was a giant in our industry. His passing is a profound loss to the bluegrass community. As we were heading back to our hotel we noticed a really nice Band Bus -- looks like Danny and the guys are traveling in style these days! Tuesday evening we had a great dinner at The Palms with Phil Pettinger followed by a night of outstanding Showcase Performances by Phil Leadbetter's new group, Grasstowne, John Reischman & the Jaybirds from western Canada, and Dale Ann Bradley's powerful new group. Wednesday, October 3rd, started off with the annual IBMA Brunch & Showcase. We ate breakfast with the kids from Cherryholmes -- they remember playing at Fox Fest one evening when the temperature was in the 30s! But they still want to come back! This year's Brunch Showcase acts sponsored by Dixie & Tom T Hall included: Don Rigsby & Midnight Call, Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain, and Three Ring Circle. Wednesday afternoon was spent back on the floor at the Convention Center talking with suppliers and looking at new products. We were particularly impressed with The Music Link's Custom Shop Recording King Professional Model. The banjo is assembled by Cliff Fitch here in the US in The Music Link's custom shop. Greg Rich was the luthier behind its development. It looks much like their RK-R80, but the metal parts are all aged and the banjo is finished with traditional lacquer. It has a classic pre-war sound and appearance and proved to be a real "head-turner" at this year's show. Currently, the Custom Shop model is only available directly through Cliff at the Recording King custom shop. We will be stocking the Ne Plus Ultra open-back as well as the RK-R80 Professional. Wednesday evening we had a dinner meeting with Kim Fox to discuss the future of the Fox Family Festival. The event has been very special, bringing some of the best Bluegrass groups in the country to our little community in the Adirondack Mountains over the past 18 years. It's a family festival where you can bring your children and your grandparents and all will have a great time! The future of the festival is still to be determined. We know we need several things to allow it to survive. We need some serious and dependable sponsors and we need to recruit a younger generation of volunteers. We are open to any suggestions and offers of help. The Fox Family Festival has become an important institution in our region of the country and it would be a terrible loss if it were allowed to die. Wednesday night we went back over to the Convention Center to relax and enjoy some more fine Bluegrass Music and visit with friends. Thursday, October 4th, we depart for Savannah, Georgia. We will be back at work in our store, Mountain Music, on Monday, October 15th. Stop by and pay us a visit.
PS Bring your picks!
Congratulations to Tony Trischka!