As surely as Apple Pie sneaks up on you over the course of an hour or two, the International Bluegrass Music Association finds a way to stumble rather than soar.
One year, controversy may follow a rogue band's impromptu awards show performance selection. Another time, it is quietly criticized- not necessarily formally- by musicians wondering why certain friends haven't received the assistance they believe they are entitled to. Complaints about the organization's 'top down' focus and specific staff and leadership challenges have ebbed and flowed over the past dozen years as frequently as its awards show host selections have been questioned.
A few years ago, the IBMA had to scold members and those found on their second awards ballot for prematurely referring to themselves as award 'nominees.' Last year there was confusion over the eligibility period and what qualified as a 'release date.' To be fair on that last one, the rules were clear to the IBMA, just not some of us attempting to understand them. This year, it has been reported that the second ballot for the awards was populated with sloppy errors in performer names- everything from 'Rickie' Skaggs to 'Fran' Solivan making appearances.
Let's not even bother with the whole (I believe misguided) Nashville brouhaha.
When I was a member, I found the organization disorganized and unhelpful, and some of its staff members plain rude. I've definitely found myself in disagreement with the organization's most vocal supporters a couple or seven times. Most significantly, I can't figure out why the powers that be have yet to place Hazel Dickens in their Hall of Fame.
Still, I support the idea of a professional bluegrass industry organization and recognize that the IBMA has done a lot of good for those who make their living within the bluegrass world. I am informed that the IBMA Trust has benefited many. Some great people have been instrumental in guiding the organization- a challenge that could be likened to leading cats to water. The IBMA's annual awards are always of interest, bringing additional recognition to singers, musicians, and industry folks whose contribution too often are overlooked.
Here is what I do know- this time, the IBMA is associated with something that seems to be getting it right!
The IBMA's current chairman, Jon Weisberger, is currently crowd-sourcing financing for an album that will benefit the organization.
Long one of the most familiar names in bluegrass and Americana print media, Weisberger has over the past decade became a familiar name within the credits of bluegrass albums as a songwriter. He is both an album and radio program producer, a darn good bassist, and is a long-time member of Chris Jones & the Nightdrivers.
"I've Been Mostly Awake" will be a collection of 13 new songs he has written or co-written and all proceeds after expenses will go to the IBMA. Among those who have written with Weisberger for this collection are Dale Ann Bradley, The Gibson Brothers, Claire Lynch, Jim Lauderdale, Shawn Camp, Kim Richey, Pam Tillis, Tim O'Brien, and others, all of whom will sing on their songs.
According to the material I've reviewed, studio time for the project was donated by Compass Records, and the house band for the project is Weisberger, Infamous Stringdusters Jeremy Garrett and Andy Falco, Fervor Coulee favourite Jesse Brock, and Weisberger's Nightdriver cohort Ned Luberecki.
For the life of me, I can't figure out how to post links here at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, but consider visiting [https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/i-ve-been-mostly-awake-a-bluegrass-songwriter-s-ibma-benefit-album] to learn more about the project and how you can support the efforts of Weisberger, project co-founder Dan Keen, and others who are contributing to this fundraising effort.
I appreciate anyone who is willing to donate their time, talents, and energy to supporting an organization they believe is of value. That is what Weisberger and his colleagues are doing here, and I can't imagine that the album will be a disappointment. The project fundraising closes July 25.