2016: A Busy HVBA Year

David Angell, HVBA President

Another year has passed, so it’s time to take stock of where we’ve been and think forward to the coming year. Looking at a summary of events provides the opportunity to ask if what we do is what we should be doing. So here we go: 2016 for the HVBA.

The HVBA is chartered as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit arts and educational organization. Our mission is to educate the public about Bluegrass music and to provide musicians opportunities to meet with one another and share their love of Bluegrass music.

To this end, over the past year we have presented seven showcases, two major concerts and two house concerts. We held two open jams a month, each of which began with an hour’s slow jam for beginners, at the Manor at Woodside. To the elderly residents there, it has been a highlight of their week to hear live music. We linked 26 local bands to our website and served to connect them with gigs in our area. We also hosted our annual “Bluegrass Stage” at the popular Arlington Street Festival, giving six local bands an hour or so of performance time to play for the crowds at the popular event.

Our showcase concert series, which gives local and regionally popular bands an opportunity to perform, now takes place at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Poughkeepsie, as do most of our larger concerts. The concert room has a warm comfortable feeling, and the sound is excellent. This year the bands that performed at the showcase and the house concerts have been simply spectacular. We presented Grass Routes, Dyer Switch, The Gather Rounders , Chris Brashear, Mile Twelve, Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, John Reischman & the Jaybirds and Joe Walsh and Sweet Loam. We ended the year up with a bang-up concert by Andy Statman and his band, Andy’s Ramblers. If you get a chance to hear any of these groups, do not pass it up. Better yet, stay tuned for the upcoming year, as I know we have another excellent lineup planned for you.

Once again, the HVBA offered a course, led by David Gandin, on the Evolution of Bluegrass through the Marist College Center for Lifetime Studies program. The class was videotaped by our trustworthy cameraman Fred Robbins, and with Webmaster Lynn Lipton’s help, displayed on our YouTube channel. As with the previous versions, the course filled up quickly and was enthusiastically received. (Despite the program’s unquestioned popularity,however, given that this was its third rendition, perhaps we should consider whether we should shift our focus from that to our outreach programs to school children, similar to the ones we conducted in past years. Food for thought.)

By the way, the Marist course did produce one unanticipated side issue. The presentations involved several brief excerpts (30 seconds or less) of recorded Bluegrass music, several of which had copyright protection. Although the Fair Use Act exempts non-profit educational organizations from copyright restrictions if the segment used is “short” and for educational use, no sooner had our videos hit the YouTube screen than SONY contacted us claiming copyright infringement. The easy way out would have been to delete the musical clips, which obviously would have significantly weakened the lessons. Lynn, however, urged us to fight for our rights under the Fair Use Protection Law. In the end, with the help of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, we won our right to show the complete videos. Kudos to Lynn for not backing down and working on the behalf of all non-profits that may find themselves challenged in the same way.

Speaking of kudos, no summary would be complete without recognizing the many people who work to make all these events happen. They are all truly volunteers and do not receive any compensation, discounts, or complimentary tickets for their time and effort. Our thanks go to: Lyn Rosen and her family for house concerts; Nancy Angell and Marc Berman for refreshments and concert setup; Fred Robbins for videography; Betsy Rome for posters; and all those who contributed CD reviews, interviews, and articles for the HVBA website. Thanks, also, to our new Concert Master, Ruth Oxenberg, who does the legwork contacting and negotiating on our behalf with bands and emcees at concerts. Welcome, Ruth!

Finally, I’d like to thank those who stepped up and helped sponsor our major concerts: Debi & Jim Tyger, Kathleen & Mike Fowler, Kevin Carrol, Lynn & Steve Lipton, Ginny & Ed Schaffer, John Jaeger, and Dianne DeJohn & Gordon Milton. Thanks, also, to the officers of the HVBA: Peter Conklin, Vice-President and Sound Technician: Marc Berman, Treasurer; Chris Scheu, Secretary; Lynn Lipton, Website Manager, Newsletter, and Program Director. Thanks are also due to the members of the board, many of whom also volunteer their efforts at events: Dave Cobb; Vivian Walsh; Kevin Walsh, Sound; Michael Foley, Publicity; George Nasca, Membership Coordinator; Ed Schaffer; Jeff Clapp; Mark Hudson, Facebook; Neal Loevinger; and Jeff Anzevino, Founder.

In the coming year we will continue what works and try to improve on what doesn’t. If you have an idea and would like to contact us, we welcome the connection. After all the HVBA is a public organization, and you should have a say in what we do.

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