Before coming here, I'd here about the late night stuff, but I thought they were kidding. Nope! I don't think I've made it to bed before 3am yet this week.
Today was fantastic, and long! I started by attending the Bluegrass Showcase, and I arrived just in time to see Primitive Quartet. When I saw them last night, I wasn't completely impressed, but I was today. I don't know if they were more relaxed or what, but they were really great, and the audience was clearly moved by their music. Throughout the showcase, they were also giving away the Front Porch Fellowship Awards, which are chosen by the fans, so that was neat. Set Apart was another group that was great. Tim Surrett was joined by Karen Peck and New River for a few songs, accompanied only by guitar and mandolin. They did a song written by Karen called "Daddy's Home", written just a few months after the death of her father. It was so emotion and moving - There were few dry eyes in the house. Janet Paschal made an appearance with Balsam Range, singing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus". Her voice was beautifully suited to the haunting, acoustic arrangement. The showcase ended with a blast when Earl Scruggs paid a surprise visit. The crowd went nuts! When he started the opening notes of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown", the audience rose to their feet so quickly, you would have thought he was playing the national anthem!
Next, at 2:00, came the widely anticipated Bloggers' Roundtable. I can't tell you how many people asked about this, and hoped it would be open to the public. We had a few official guests in the room, but the bloggers were: Paul Jackson, Daniel J. Mount, Aaron Swain, Adam Edwards, Chuck Peters, Doug Harrison (averyfineline.com), Daniel Britt, Kyle Boering, Lottie Squires, Sue C. Smith, Joel Lindsey, David Murray, and me. Doug, the organizer, had sent us all the question, "What role should blogging play in the SG industry?" It's really too broad a question for such a short amount of time, but I thought some interesting things came up.
We were such a diverse group - artists, songwriters, radio djs, music critics, and general commentators - that when you put us all together, you actually get a near-complete view of the industry. We discussed how our blogs can get a much broader scope of info and opinions than you could ever get in an industry magazine. Is it appropriate to discuss an artist's personal life in your blog? Where do we draw that line between personal and professional information? There was some talk of what constitutes libel, and several people shared stories of threatening phone calls from lawyers. We also discussed the standard of music in the SG industry, and how blogs may help to raise that standard. All in all, it was a great 90 minutes, and I think the discussion could have gone on much longer.
I got out of the Roundtable just in time to see Tara sing in the Regional Artist Showcase. She was fantastic! Next, I decided to wander the booths and try to chat with people I know. I eventually hooked up with Tara and we decided to eat dinner in the food court, while we watched the Singing News Fan Awards. It would have been nice to see this in person, especially since I made a point to vote, but things were just too busy up til then, and it was nice to sit down for a meal. We sat with Brian from JOYFM and Phil Hughes from the Kingsmen. Great conversion, and great biscuits! (We had these crazy fried biscuits with cheese in them. I'm reminded of Gerald's line, "They deep-fry the air down here!")
We went over to see the last part of the ceremony, including the award for best group, awarded to The Booth Brothers. There's a little buzz because a 'trio' won Group of the Year at the 'Quartet' convention. Funny, huh? We went back to the exhibit hall at 8:30 for a Stamps-Baxter event at Ben's booth. All students and faculty attending NQC were invited to visit and be in a group photo.
(By the way, check out http://www.gospelmusicupdate.com/photos.shtm to see photos from the week. New photos are added each night.)
I spent the next few hours just chatting with Stamps-Baxter people, telling them about my upcoming CD, finding out about their lives. I finally headed over to Freedom Hall about 11:30, which still gave me over an hour's worth of show.
By the way, remember I wrote about the awesome vintage clips they've been showing throughout the shows? Well, last night, they showed Vestal Goodman - before she was either an alto or a Goodman! It was just fantastic! Tonight, I caught vintage Inspirations singing the now-Hopper hit "Shoutin' Time in Heaven". So great!
Legacy Five was performing when I arrived, and they were fantastic. Again, another new-to-me group. Greater Vision followed with a great set, setting the stage for an awesome and powerful performance from Mark Trammell Trio. Such a smooth and classy group. They started with an intimate song sung around the piano. Very beautiful. They used that great song, "Who Am I?" to transition with the Perry's, who nearly took the roof of the place with their performance. Libby Stuffle sings from the depths of her soul, and I just love that. They finished with a song by my friend, Joel Lindsey (and Wayne Haun), "I Wish I Could've Been There". (2005 Stamps-Baxter alumni will remember this song from our time with Mike Speck.) Loved it!
Great day. So tired I can barely see what I'm writing. Can't believe this week is almost done!