by Sherri Brodsky
After eleven hours of driving, Korey and I arrive in downtown Raleigh, NC. The city is buzzing with bluegrass-music-loving people from all over the world, all convening to share music, and many to experience the annual International Bluegrass Music Awards.
This year the IBMA Awards show was held at the beautiful Duke Energy Center in downtown Raleigh. This was a big move for IBMA after leaving Nashville with all its bluegrass history and legendary venues. However, Raleigh was more than welcoming and proved to be an ideal location for the annual week-long event.
Our 14 year old son, Korey, was invited to play guitar in an all-star band that was formed to honor the 20th anniversary of the first youth all-star band which included Josh Williams, Cody Kilby, Michael Cleveland and Chris Thile. What a thrill and honor! Korey and six other very talented teen musicians from all over the country and Canada got together in Raleigh for about six hours, within two days, to rehearse a song that would be played at the awards show. The band was led by Tony Watt and Stephen Mougin.
The day of the show Rick arrives by plane and we head into Raleigh to watch Korey’s last rehearsal and to witness the red carpet being laid out in front of the performance center. The air is filled with anticipation and excitement; so many amazing and legendary bluegrass musicians under one roof, and the all-star band will play on the same stage! We arrive at the backstage entrance, say goodbye to Korey and the other members of the band who will stay backstage and warm-up until they perform, and we go to find our seats. The 2300 seat auditorium is filling up quickly and is alive with chatter and joy. The three hour awards show does not disappoint with great music, banter and joking between announcers, speeches from people who are humbled by winning, and lots of applause. The all-star band plays a great rendition of the song John Henry with a level of maturity and professionalism that matches any adult band. The audience shows their enthusiasm and support with cheering and applauding after each musician takes their solo and when the song comes to an end.
There was a celebratory feeling backstage at the end of the show. The teens were so proud, and so were the parents, with the way they played. It was very exciting for us to see musicians like Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, and Jerry Douglas approach the teens and tell them how well they performed. Ricky Skaggs put his hands on Korey’s shoulders and said “You played great son, you got a future in this business”. Bluegrass music is thriving and it was so wonderful to see and feel the support and encouragement of the bluegrass community with these young talented musicians. Korey made memories that will last a lifetime and is so thankful to have had this amazing experience. He enjoyed meeting and sharing music with the other teens and looks forward to crossing paths with them in the future.
When we asked Korey what his favorite part of the experience was, he said “To see Tony Rice inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame! And of course, playing in the awards show……..” ☺