With the fall chill winding down the main festival season, and the success of GrassStock '09, I was privileged to hear many great stories and receive many fantastic emails in regards to the efforts of the production staff that brought this all to fruition. Rarely do you learn the path of the people behind the scenes, and often they are recognized for their efforts as well as they should be. In hearing all the rave responses about our festival, I decided to sit down with the man who has been instrumental in bringing not only our own GrassStock, but many other festivals from their infancy to world wide fame.
"PoppyTim" Cahall started his career as a DJ (right after high school) at WDJX Radio in Beavercreek, OH. During his DJ stint, he decided to make it his life's work in the art of helping people to have a good time. Tim started expanding his horizons by continuing DJing, while also doing lighting for church events, school events, civic events, street events and private parties. Making the move to create his own small event production company was the next smartest (and probably one of his best yet) moves. Old National Bluegrass (Tim's company) was named as such because he grew up a half mile away from the "Old National Trail" (US 40) and he wanted folks to remember the times when festivals were first starting to grow (i.e.: "The National Bluegrass Festival" from Indian Springs MD). Tim always wanted to be involved in festival production (he's as happy emceeing a show as he is scrubbing the stage after a muddy storm), and the name, "Old National Bluegrass" reminds him of his days growing up watching Mr. Monroe at the many events.
During his service in the United States Air Force, Tim didn't let his patriotic duties stop him from creating his "good time" atmosphere. He tech directed little theater productions in and around the areas of Biloxi, MS and Pensacola FL. He acted in many small productions (proving his degree in theatre really did work) while also working other community events (some of which include the American Jr. Miss Pageant , in Mobile AL as well as many Mardi Gras events along the Gulf Coast). Working these events provided a great bonding opportunity for Tim and his daughter, Brandi. He took her to many of these outings and let her get the "feel" of the lights and stages he set. He often wonders if this is how Zoey (his almost 6 year old Grand-Daughter and Buckaroo Buddy) has become the blossom of creativity that she is. Following in his footsteps, she was also seen help emcee GrassStock 2009!
Tim's creative reach is not only limited to the United States. While stationed in Keflavik, Iceland he continued to uphold the home-front, good time, music dream by working closely with many USO productions. He formed the 'Ice and Fire Theatre Group', which provided weekly Saturday night shows at the local Keflavik USO. He even formed the Icelandic Bluegrass Association which, at last check, is still at the base going strong!
After the Air Force, Tim came home to roost, but unsurprisingly to those who know him well, that did not last very long. He went back in to the world of DJing, and with friend Steve Allen, worked together at WYSO in Yellow Springs, OH doing the "Bluegrass Breakdown Show. Tim was also quickly bitten by the community events bug, and in a big way. As the Entertainment Director for events within his local Bluegrass Association he encouraged talent draws to the area he fondly refers to as the "Growing up place for Bluegrass". To this day you can often hear Tim introduce a local band with, "Ya know, Bluegrass was born in that great commonwealth we call Kentucky, but it was raised up in Dayton! Put your hands together for..:"
Continuing to work these types of events, he came to be known as the "King of Benefits". Tim created many benefits for the needing of the Dayton region, and his knack for being able to put a show together amazed many, as this creative person is not actually a "picker"! However, it is inarguable that he can sure put some mighty fine pickers together for a fantastic show!
Whether it is a small show, a festival, or the bigger events he has moved on to, Tim has always put in his 150% effort. He sincerely believes that his life's mission is to put a smile on the face of as many as possible, and his dedication to that dream is steadfast. All the while of working ‘normal' days jobs (as a teacher or an electrician), the weekends would find him volunteering or working a festival. Like most of us, Bluegrass remains his favorite genre, but he has also worked, produced or sponsored: Blues Festivals, Olde Tyme Music Festivals (his first one being at Bean Blossom), Gospel Music, Hippy Festivals and Classic Rock Shows ("These, are the real money makers, Tim jokes), and many other concerts.
Tim's real adventure in the journey to big bluegrass production arrived in 1994, when he was invited to become the General Manager at the Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival. He built the production to become the largest traditional Bluegrass Festival in the world, rightly cementing his nick-name, "PoppyTim." In reminiscence, he says,
"It was not uncommon to see more than 250,000 people within the month range of the 5 day festival". When Poppy Mountain saw its pinnacle, Poppy Tim was itching to see where else in the family friendly event arena, he could make a difference.
With that in mind, he made the move to Bean Blossom, IN and partnered with Dwight Dillman. Their excellent team work and creative magic brought forth gospel festivals, the Hippy Hill HooDang, and one of Tim's truest loves, Old Tyme Music. To this day, the first Bean Blossom Old Tyme Music Festival poster hangs proudly on his office wall. Even while managing these major entities, Tim saw no idle time. He was simultaneously working with the Festival of The Bluegrass, MerleFest, Acoustic Box Office, SolidGoldBluegrass.com and GreyFox as a consultant, program producer (KidGrass, showcases, or volunteer) or video productionist (working large screen projections of the stage) Old National Bluegrass was not precisely at the forefront at this point of his life, but always aspects of it shone through with little touches Tim brought to each show. One of the best examples of this was during his GreyFox days. As a 'greeter' for people coming up the hill during 'rodeo', Tim was always seen making a slight bow with a warm welcome to every passerby. This warm courtesy did not go unnoticed, as he was even featured in "The Bluegrass Journey" (a video documentary about The GreyFox Bluegrass and Acoustic Music Festival) (I just inserted the proper name of GreyFox... ) doing this now famous greeting. Tim says he misses going to GreyFox and that their people are some of the best in the event production industry.
After years of traveling, Tim decided to settle near his kids and make a base to focus on bringing Old National Bluegrass to the forefront once more, and began producing concerts, weddings and everything in between. One of the things that have been of the upmost importance to Tim is supporting kids in music. Our kids are the key to carrying on the Bluegrass Tradition, which Tim agrees is crucial to the longevity of our genre. Old National Bluegrass has been instrumental in helping support and build up KidsGrass programs. He raised $7500.00 in just six hours for a deserving high school group out of WV (the Duval High School Bluegrass Club). Their benefit was a sure success, especially with the auctioning off of a banjo that Lynwood Lunsford played (while with Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys). Old National Bluegrass has also donated to the IBMA Youth in Bluegrass Video Project (with Sierra Hull and Ryan Holiday), and continues to help kids programs whenever possible.
Most recently he produced (along with his good friend Ron Workman) GrassStock '09. Tim says that this festival was the hardest event he's ever produced. Even while battling health issues (Tim is a diabetic, and it was said people made him sit down for a second and eat!) He put in endless amounts of time, spirit and sweat to create the atmosphere that has really made the difference from the previous year. Tim says that anyone who can remember the lighting situation from last year can attest to that fact. In addition to the much needed lighting system, Old National Bluegrass brought in many new amenities (the kids movie area, and donated the signs and banners as well as other entities) that made the festival take on a more organized and professional approach from prior events. Small considerations like that are so important to the longevity and success of our radio station. Another new aspect of the festival was that Tim created an Executive Committee to help delegate tasks and responsibilities; as he believes more heads are always better than one. Even with all of this, Tim balks at taking any credit for what people are hailing the 'best GrassStock yet'. He credits Ron Workman, Tamara Becknell, Vicki Abbot, Ted Hatfield and many others for the success of GrassStock '09.
"The guy in the 4th row got a great show because of them, not me", he quips. When people tell Tim that he is an asset to the World Wide Bluegrass (and GrassStock,) he just laughs and says that they are the real asset.
Tim has so far greatly enjoyed his time being an I-DJ here at the WWB (he has been a part of the team for a little over a year) and is thankful for Ron Workman, Gracie Muldoon, Vicki Abbot, River Powell, Tamara Becknell, his life long buddy Jim Chatfield (fellow Stooge and "Gentleman"-it says so on his shirt!), Brady Smith (Third Stooge out of the popular Stooge 3 productions shows, made up of Timbo, Jimbo, and Bimbo) as well as his other Brothers and Sisters in the WWB family.)
Tim is a very humble, team minded fellow and is looking forward to helping the growth of many more GrassStocks to come. As par for the course with how things in Tim's life go, we've barely come down from the excitement of GrassStock '09 -and already GrassStock 2010 is in the making. Due to requests and suggestions from this years GrassStock attendees, artists and vendors, Gracie, Vicki and Tim recently met together and have made the decision to move to a new (yet to be determined) location for the future. Tim and Old National Bluegrass have once again been asked to produce the ever growing festival. Extra special thanks go to Ron Workman and Les Sears for their vision and execution of creating the first steps and blue prints of GrassStock. The vision is growing and needs to be on the path of expansion for its bigger and better future. New sites are being considered for amenities, size, market area and vendor possibilities (just to start). Ron Workman is a hero in the eyes of Tim and the WWB and his offering of his farm, to get us started out is greatfully appreciated. Tim says that his vision for GrassStock is not just for the 2010 season, but for the 2015 season and beyond. World Wide Bluegrass is lucky to have such a humble, team minded, experienced person among our ranks to help us grow and reach our full potential.
If you see Poppy Tim Cahall around, (whether he is I-DJing on the WWB, running around putting a festival together ,or hollering "Free Bird!" from the back of the crowd), be sure to shake his hand and thank him for all he has done. He is truly an asset and an inspiration for us, not only at World Wide Bluegrass, or for event production, but to Bluegrass as a whole (By Golly!).
Information about Tim's production company:
Old National Bluegrass is based out of Springfield OH and has had an entertainment agency, a consulting area, as well as event production at many festivals around the country. He can offer KidGrass programs, volunteer programs, ShowCasing presentations, Bluegrass Karaoke, as well as full event production and, as well as wedding planning, party production, theatrical and show productions (little theatre, ad fashion/cheer/special needs) and just a great time! He has been associated with many of the necessary people to make you a Great Event! If you would like Old National Bluegrass for one of your events, send an email to email@example.com