Patriotism, politics collide at IBMA awards; leader resigns over leadership issue
The Tennessean is reporting a dismal day for the roots commonwealth ...In bluegrass music, the only political arguments normally revolve around whether it's OK to use a snare drum, or whether electric bass is acceptable.Let me tell you this is a sad but serious situation for the Bluegrass community. There may not be a more patriotic and spiritually rooted body outside our churches and the PBRA.
But a flap over the appropriateness of military anthems at 2006's International Bluegrass Music Association's awards show has led to the resignation of David Crow, the organization's president and chairman of the board."It's a dangerously fine line between patriotism and politics, and the line is so fine that trade organizations probably need to avoid it," said Crow, a Nashville attorney and veteran bluegrass musician.Rhonda Vincent is one of our truly great Bluegrass entertainers ... see how easy it is to be entangled in a mess. She probably had nothing to do with the mess but she "performed with" Country Currents.
At issue is a performance on the Sept. 28 IBMA Awards show by the U.S. Navy bluegrass band, an outfit called Country Current. That band performed with perennial IBMA female vocalist of the year Rhonda Vincent, whose new album contains some patriotic lyrics and is titled All American Bluegrass Girl.When some in the bluegrass community expressed concerns about Country Current's playing military service anthems on the show - feeling that it might offend some IBMA members, including the roughly 300 members (about 15 percent) who hail from outside the United States - Crow and the rest of the five-member executive board met and determined to ask Country Current to play one of Chief Wayne Taylor's original songs rather than service anthems.Look folks, this shouldn't even be a question. Bluegrass is an uniquely American invention ... if all 300 international members are offended because the IBMA's annual event has an American patriotic theme, TOO BAD!
Even though Crow bent over backward to attempt an accomodation, he and his supporters were evidently bushwhacked!"We asked the Navy band if they'd be able to do a standard bluegrass song instead, and they said 'Sure,'" said IBMA Executive Director Dan Hays. "So David had gone to membership meetings during the week and had been saying, 'There are going to be some changes that the Navy band is more than willing to accommodate.'"It was believed that the fire was out and all would go as planned. Wrong! Someone, somewhere threw a wrench into the works.
The show went on but not as revised by the leadership, it went on with considerable patriotic content ... "the Navy band went onstage at the awards show and performed military anthems."Backstage, Crow resigned immediately.Amen to that, but this should not have been a issue in the first place and whoever allowed it or forced it to the surface should be thrown to the dogs.
"Someone has to be accountable when the board makes decisions and they are not implemented," he said. "Resigning was not a political statement, it was a statement about losing control from a leadership perspective."The remaining members of the executive board released a statement expressing "deep concern" at the failure to implement decisions about the show, and Hays said the IBMA was conducting a study to determine just what happened and why.And it would be a good thing for all if he didn't; not because he did anything wrong but because his leadership was thwarted.
"We're encouraging David as best we know how to reconsider his resignation," Hays said, but Crow said on Friday, "I'm not coming back.""Crow said he would continue to be involved in bluegrass and in the IBMA, just not from an official leadership perspective.
What a shame! Perhaps one of the last vestiges of the old ways is coming under the pressure of intolerance and PC (political crap)."I hope this gives us a new mandate to keep our focus on things that bring us together," he said. "It seems to me that, to the extent we could focus on the music, that's where our energies ought to be."
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HT: Bluegrass Blog
BLOGGERS BLOGGING:A Whiff of Smiff Personal friend of David Crow
CyberGrass Good additional comments here.
Eliza's Music News
String Theory Includes complete Crow letter to the IBMA membership