And what an incredible team it is! Watching this project unfold has been one of the greatest joys of my adult life. I remember carpooling home with General Ted Kuster after a gig and we were talking about how we could grow bluegrass to new audiences. We talked about the Sunday Streets campaign, farmer’s market picks, etc... Then Ted said, “What do you think about a float in the Pride parade?” And whoa! That was it! That was absolutely it. The rest is history. The Bluegrass Pride family built and presented a float to over a million viewers and came back with the grand prize its very first year! It is definitely going down in history.
Not only did Bluegrass Pride forge a whole new path for bluegrass to explore last year, it took that momentum and continued blazing the trail and leading us all forward. It inspired our picking peers in Portland to start Oregon Bluegrass Pride! Bluegrass Pride has been asked to participate in World Pride in New York City in 2019! There are folks in Seattle, Vancouver, Nashville, and Texas that want to organize! Just prior to this year’s parade, IBMA announced its full support for BGP (alongside The Handsome Ladies) for bringing the “spirit of inclusivity” to the genre. “We want those who are part of our community to know they are supported, and we want those are not yet a part of our community to know that they are always welcome,” IBMA’s Convention Services Director Eddie Huffman said in a press release announcing the partnerships. “We are excited to partner with Bluegrass Pride and the Handsome Ladies to support their efforts to bring bluegrass music to new audiences, celebrating our music’s open and inclusive nature.”
This beautiful and inspiring journey is chock full of hardworking individuals and organizations. Each time I’d hear of another component of the project, I’d just get that warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart. This is what communities do for each other. This is what family and neighbors do for each other. They lift one another up, support one another. They build strong foundations, knowing that a strong base can only create a strong future.
Though I haven’t been intimately involved in the many layers of BGP, I wanted to write about this beautiful community of folks working together. It’s inspiring and on behalf of many folks out there, I’d like to share with you some of the incredible contributions
To the hundreds of folks who donated money, helped organize the event, walked the parade, organize fundraisers and events: thank you.
To Yennie Brecheisen for your creative eye and heart that produced beautiful branding images: thank you.
To Jess Poteralski who conceptualized the floats: thank you.
To Charlotte Wheeler of California Shakespeare Theater set builders who built a float that can be dismantled easily and put back together for any float we need: thank you.
To 47 Hills Brewery for letting us use space to put the float together: thank you.
To Mike Pegram and Jay Keller for so many beautiful images of the event: thank you.
To Dan Foldes and Nils Erickson for amazing post-parade sound: thank you.
To Katie Balestreti and the entire crew from SoMa StrEat Food Park: thank you.
To Amnesia for your continuing support for bluegrass music: thank you.
To Shawn McGee, former owner of Amnesia, for providing a home for this music in San Francisco for so long: thank you.
To the amazing musicians who lent their passion, voices and musicianship, and who continue to do so: thank you.
To Kara Kundert for being such an incredible leader: thank you.
To Ted Kuster for the vision: thank you.
To The Bluegrass Situation for your support and efforts to keep the music out there: thank you.
To The Hellman Foundation for everything you continue to do for the music and your encouragement and support of this project: thank you.
To the California Bluegrass Association for having the faith and confidence in what this project is about: thank you.
To the International Bluegrass Music Association for your support, and unwavering commitment to preserving bluegrass music: thank you.
And finally, thank you to bluegrass communities throughout this country and the world. This music has become home to many weary souls. Some were born into it, some had to find it, and some that got lucky because the music found them. This music connects us all. And together we can do amazing things.