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Americana and Bluegrass Confirm Online Fall Conventions

The Americana Music Association today offered its first look at this Fall’s annual gathering, starting with a new name. AmericanaFest has been recast as an online suite of events called Thriving Roots: A Virtual Community Music Conference and set for Sept. 16-18. The AMA is leaning in to high profile guest speakers and panelists to add value, announcing appearances by Rosanne Cash, John Leventhal, Mavis Staples, Jackson Browne, Rhiannon Giddens and T Bone Burnett to start. 

The group is promising “over 50 stimulating industry and artist-led panel discussions, plus more than 40 immersive special events filled with music.” Those events will be presented over a bespoke platform that officials say will be more engaging, flexible and conducive to networking than Zoom or other more familiar video conference services. They aren’t disclosing the name of the vendor at this time. 

“As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, we know that there is a need now more than ever to feel connected,” said Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association Foundation and The AMA. “With Thriving Roots, we hope that our community will benefit from coming together in the comfort of their own homes to learn from each other and have timely conversations, while still having opportunities to network and enjoy great music.”

The Americana Honors and Awards are still envisioned as a live event from the Ryman Auditorium, but questions remain about allowing an audience and the exact format of the webcast.

The International Bluegrass Music Association also announced the broad outlines of its virtual alternative to the World of Bluegrass for 2020 this week. Instead of its longstanding conference, festival and street fair in Raleigh, NC, IBMA will facilitate an online conference and artist showcase between Sept. 28 and Oct. 3. 

“We see this as an opportunity to reimagine every aspect of IBMA World of Bluegrass so we can still connect, educate, showcase, and perform in fun and engaging ways,” said IBMA Executive Director Paul Schiminger. “And we hope to introduce new participants to the types of things we normally do in Raleigh so we can invite them to join us in person for the fun in 2021 and hopefully many years beyond.”

More details about IBMA’s plans can be found here.

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's editorial director and host of The String, a weekly interview show airing Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. He also co-hosts The Old Fashioned on Saturdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 8 pm. Threads and Instagram: @chavighurst. Email: craig@wmot.org