This past Monday we pulled the trusty ol' Planet Bluegrass lottery machine out from its dusty spot in the back of the closet. We oiled the gears, gave the hand crank a spin, and started throwing in entries for the first of the 2009 lotteries. Just two days into these first two lotteries - Town Park camping for Telluride Bluegrass and classes in the RockyGrass Academy - the entry buckets are already starting to fill up with orders from 42 different US states and several foreign countries.
But that's the beauty of the lottery system: everyone has an equal chance, whether you entered at 2am on the opening day or you snuggle up with your computer tonight. The simple online lottery form is available at bluegrass.com 24 hours a day - until these first lotteries close this Tuesday, November 18 at 11:59pm MST. If you think a few members of your Festivarian family might over-procrastinate, help them out with a gentle reminder. They'll raise a glass in your honor this summer.
We're proud to announce the preliminary list of instructors for the 2009 RockyGrass Academy (July 19-23). Joining us this year are several bands-in-residence: Claire Lynch Band, the Kruger Brothers, Bearfoot, and two new bands to the Academy - 3-time IBMA instrumental group of the year California (Byron Berline, Dan Crary, John Moore, Steve Spurgin, and John Hickman) and Three Ring Circle (Rob Ickes, Andy Leftwich, and Dave Pomeroy).
This year's Academy faculty covers the spectrum of bluegrass from former Bluegrass Boys to the next generation of super-pickers, with dozens of IBMA awards shared between all of them. And we're not done yet. We'll have several more instructors to be announced in the coming weeks.
In addition to instrument classes (in guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, dobro, and bass) and the bluegrass camp for kids, we're adding several new classes this year. Eileen Carson Schatz (founder of the Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble) will be teaching a week-long course in traditional dance including clogging, hambone, and other dance styles. We'll be focusing on songwriting and bluegrass vocals in a new class taught by Claire Lynch and Steve Spurgin. As an alternative to bluegrass banjo, Mark Schatz will be teaching a course in clawhammer banjo. And after several years of successful trials, we will be offering several advanced guitar kits as part of the instrument building experience (available only for past graduates of the instrument building class).
With workshops, jam circles, master classes, one-on-one instruction, a band scramble, and camping along the St. Vrain River in Lyons, the RockyGrass Academy is the greatest week of bluegrass pickin' anywhere. Registration for all 2009 Academy classes (via the online lottery) is open now thru November 18.
While we won't be announcing any festival lineups for another couple weeks, you can help us out by recommending a few of your favorite performers. Check out the lively discussion about Telluride Bluegrass artists in the Festivarian Forum and post your fantasy festival lineup.
Recognizing that these are uncertain economic times for all of us, we've been looking long and hard at the budgets for all our 2009 events. After several weeks of difficult deliberations, the decision came down to either cutting corners or raising prices. Rather than offer something less than the greatest festival experience in the world, we chose the latter. Keep in mind, we don't hide any costs in handling or service fees. Our published prices are the final cost you pay. Keeping in mind that we've held most of our prices constant for several years, these increases are less than the rate of inflation. Rest assured, we will cut no corners in creating yet another year of festival magic on Planet Bluegrass.
All the artists at our 2008 festivals received Klean Kanteen water bottles. We have a few of these unique "sustainable festivation" bottles left, which are now available online at shop.bluegrass.com. These stainless steel bottles make long-lasting gifts for all the Festivarians in your life. Get yours now for just $25, shipping included.
Get those entries in for the Telluride Town Park and RockyGrass Academy lotteries. You'll sleep better. They both close in just a few more days. While you're at it, mark your calendar for our other important dates: the lottery for on-site camping at RockyGrass (open November 24 thru December 7); and all other 2009 tickets go on sale on December 10 at 9am MST.