Categories
Instruction Musical Adventures

How to Grow a Bluegrass Community from the Ground

MBOTMA LogoWhen traveling around the country with the High 48’s, people are often surprised to hear what a thriving traditional bluegrass scene we have in Minnesota.  Their ears always perk up when I tell them (with pride) about the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association (MBOTMA), an organization that has been around for over 30 years, has 1000 members and over 100 member bands and hosts one of the premier bluegrass festivals in the country every August (nominated three times by the International Bluegrass Music Association in Nashville for Event of the Year).

However, what they are often most interested in hearing about is how we are actively cultivating the next generation of  bluegrass musicians, through programs like the annual Grass Seeds Academy. Grass Seeds is a three day bluegrass “boot camp,” for kids and young adults ages 8-20 that takes place every March during MBOTMA’s Winter Weekend festival (a full-fledged bluegrass festival stuffed into a small hotel in the Twin Cities).  Not only do the participants learn how to play some great songs, they are required to be part of a band and learn how to work together on arrangements as well as the ins and outs of stage performance. These kids/young adults start out the weekend as a room full of strangers at various skill levels and end it by playing together in bands on the main auditorium stage– it is very inspiring!

I have been honored to be on the faculty of the Grass Seeds Academy for the last two years and can say that the future of bluegrass music in Minnesota looks awfully bright! If you are under 20, live in the Upper Midwest and are looking to take your bluegrass skills to the next level or have a child that has expressed interest in bluegrass music, I encourage you to sign-up next year. So mark your calendars and check out the registration page again in early 2013!