The Bluegrass Family History

August 23, 2018 Deborah Wilbrink
photo courtesy of IBMA media page

Laurie Lewis & Del McCoury
Co-hosts for IBMA Awards 2012

Memoir is even sweeter when shared with family. Bluegrass musicians and fans are so devoted to the music, the artists, and jamming, that the Bluegrass World is like one big family, and they’re always discussing bluegrass family history!

It was at small festivals I first noticed I could not only leave my chair, but all my things, go off to hear a jam or inspect the records at the collectors’ tents, and come back and find all intact. That’s when I first noticed the family atmosphere that prevails.

With the World of Bluegrass coming to Raleigh, North Carolina September 25-29, my thoughts turn back to when I was a vendor at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Expo trade show in 2012.

Bluegrass fans shared unique stories and ideas as they visited the Perfect Memoirs table in Nashville. A Florida woman writes her family history and poems in song form, and she sings them around the house to subliminally share family history with her children.  A devoted bluegrass fan and volunteer lives in a beautiful, historic inn – he would like to share that history with other inn visitors and guests. An Oklahoma woman ponders her family’s mixed history of Cherokee and English, both originating in eastern Tennessee, and recalls several of the many stories her deceased grandmother told. Several people wistfully spoke of loved ones that had passed, and stories gone forever. If you are in that situation, I recommend a tribute book of memories to preserve those people for their descendants. Over and over I hear versions of:

As long as someone remembers you, you are still living.

Many people were excited about all the stars at the IBMA Awards Show. I talked to Laurie Lewis, that year’s co-host along with Del McCoury, and her musical partner Tom Rozum, at their table. I’ve been a fan of Laurie for years as she puts effective stories, environmentalism and other great concepts into her songs. It turns out Tom is interested in family history, too! Laurie is playing the Main Stage once again this year.

In my previous role as a journalist I sought out artists and business people. But during the World of Bluegrass trade show I talked mostly with fans who stopped by the table of Perfect Memoirs to chat about family history. If you saw us there in 2012, you also saw my husband’s display of Teye Guitars, custom electrics handmade in Austin. In the years since, we both have made memories that make good business stories, too. It was another great IBMA for us.

We’ll be seeing a favorite, multiple award-winning bluegrass band, Blue Highway,  this weekend at the Station Inn in Nashville. One year I was an IBMA award-winner too, for my Lesson Plan “Murder Ballads Composition and Analysis.” These murder ballads were often true stories, passed from mouth to mouth through song when printed materials were hard to come by.  Please comment and share your bluegrass music stories, or beliefs and thoughts on preserving memories…

I’ve had a family that I’ve always loved

And I made peace with my God above

But where did the morning go?

I’ve held hands that I loved to hold

But an evenin’ came when I had to let ’em go

I still write the words down to my songs

But it’s different voices that sing along

Where did the morning go?

Where Did the Morning Go, recorded byBlue Highway

by Shawn Lane/Cat Town Music, BMI

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Deborah Wilbrink

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