My Internship Experience at Walk West 

July 12, 2017

I recently was given the amazing opportunity to do a week long internship at Walk West in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Walk West is a social media communication and digital marketing firm.

I have learned a lot about professional communication companies the past three days. I have worked heavily in the video production field, and hope to use my new skills when I get home!

You may have also noticed some changes on my website and social media accounts. Ms. Sharon Delaney McCloud has been given me some pointers to make my website better.

One of the things you may notice is the new website layout. And, if you found this blog, it is yet another change.

I am hoping to make I Had to Ask more aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly.

I hope you enjoy the changes.


Thursday Media Wrap Up

At MerleFest 2017, I have been able to sit in at the press conference for the Avett Brothers and Mandolin Orange. Here are the 4 important things to note from it…

  • MerleFest has been very influential to these bands as they see MerleFest as many of us do, home. Even for people like Bob Crawford, of the Avett Brothers, a New Jersey native said that coming to MerleFest for the first time was a “revelatory” moment.
  • Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange says that when he writes his songs, many of which who speak to the audience, he writes what inspires him and hopes to inspire others. His counterpart, Emily Frantz, sees his songs as very personal insights he has not detailed story songs.
  • It was a unanimous decision that Doc Watson’s precedence can be undoubtedly felt in the festival. We all discussed the importance of carrying on the of playing the traditional music as that has been passed through us. The Avett Brothers stressed the importance of continuing to play traditional music.
  • Finally…Mandolin Orange says their advice for young musicians is to play music with everyone all the time, even if it is uncomfortable to stretch your ability to play music. And, the Avett Brothers simply noted that if you are willing to put in the long nights, early mornings, and to play every night, being a musician is there for everyone.

These are the things you learn when you have to ask!

MerleFest: Just a Few Weeks Away

MerleFest 2017 is coming up very quickly! There are so many things to look forward to this year, let’s start with the headliners…

Headliners This Year

The Zac Brown Band

The Transatlantic Sessions hosted by Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain with special guests to include Sarah Jarsoz and James Taylor

The Avett Brothers

Bela Fleck

Leftover Salmon

Sam Bush

Jorma Kaukonen (check out our interview with him here)

Peter Rowan

The Steep Canyon Rangers


I am so excited about MerleFest 30 and can’t wait to be covering it (again) this year!

The 20 Best Pieces of Advice Bluegrass Musicians Have Received…

At IBMA 2016 I had the amazing opportunity to talk with many performers and bluegrass professionals on the Red Carpet before the Awards show. I asked one question of everyone, “What has been the best advice you have been given in your career?” People I talked with ranged from everyone from the founders of Rounder Records, to Sierra Hull, to Jens Kruger. Here is the 20 best pieces of advice people have been given in their careers.

  1. Be true to yourself, be true to your music.
  2. Practice (until your fingers bleed).
  3. Be nice and kind to everyone on your way up because you don’t know who you’ll see on the way down.
  4. Keep trying, don’t give up.
  5. Stay flexible.
  6. Stick with your friends.
  7. Be prepared for new opportunities so when doors open you are ready to walk through them. (Also know when to not walk through them.)
  8. Work hard.
  9. Follow your heart, and let your music come from your heart.
  10. Always have an education to fall back on.
  11. Have fun.
  12. Know when to play, know when to not play.
  13. Love what you do.
  14. Don’t stop.
  15. Ask for advice and you get a favor, ask for a favor and you get advice.
  16. Write, write.write.
  17. Don’t take it too seriously.
  18. Listen first, play second.
  19. If you’re not having fun give it up.
  20. Stay humble.


IBMA Post #3

It’s been a good day here at IBMA. I talked with Laurie Lewis of Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands. Here is a little recap of the interview.

Inspired by Doc Watson at the Berkeley Folk Festival when she was 14 years old proves that bluegrass is a nationwide phenomenon and has been for some time now. Recently Laurie traveled the John Muir trail and blogged about it.  She found the sheer beauty of the mountains fed her soul and has helped her become more positive. Laurie discovered blog writing and now uses it as an outlet just like she uses songwriting.

This is just a little bit of the interview and what we talked about. Stay tuned for the full-length interview. Thanks for reading what I Had to Ask.


IBMA Post #2

I had a great start to IBMA, attending the keynote speech and reception I saw some friends from the past years including James Reams of James Reams and the Barnstormers, Jacob Sharp oof Mipso, Carolyn and Daniel Routh of Nu-Blu, and Andrea Asperelli from Cricket Tell the Weather. I also have set up an interview with Kyle Cantrell from Sirius XM’s Bluegrass Junction.

I also met Dave Swartz of Parkfield Bluegrass Festival in California. He told me a couple fun stories about the festival.

The festivities began here are the highlights of the things I heard today…

We heard from alumni of the IBMA Leadership Bluegrass Class and the tri-chair of the IBMA organizing committee Laurie Okun.

Next, we heard from the mayor of Raleigh, Nancy McFarlane, she thanked the bluegrass community for helping Raleigh’s reputation grow as a loving community. No matter the rain we had last year Raleigh is the home of a family of bluegrass professionals and fan.

Paul Schiminger the executive director of IBMA assured us that even though IBMA has had a rough year in its headquarters and in the bluegrass community (with the passing of Dr. Ralph Stanley along with other music greats), He also passed along the hint for us to stayed tuned for a young group of musicians on national television! He also gave us great news, the International Bluegrass Music Association social media footprint is growing! Schiminger also challenged to work on our business skills because the change in the bluegrass world is here.

Finally, we heard from the keynote speaker Marian Leighton-Levy one of the co-founders of Rounder Records. I learned from her that the bluegrass community is changing but that is okay. We need to be open to the change and not build a wall around bluegrass music but instead be open to new bluegrass styles.

So far IBMA has been great! I can’t wait for tomorrow, I’ll be sure to keep you updated!



IBMA 2016 Post #1

Hello everyone in the bluegrass world! Today marks the beginning of a very special bluegrass event to me! this event, the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass (IBMA WOB)! I have lots of exciting things in store for you. I am happy to announce I will be at the IBMA Awards Show Red Carpet with my “One Question I Had to Ask.” I have also been preparing a series of interviews to record AND write about! Here’s to a fantastic week!!!!!

Please comment with any suggestions you may have for things I should do this week and be sure to follow me on Twitter at @ihad2ask.


Adam Hamilton Interviews Archived

The first interview segment with Adam Hamilton will continue to find its home on but, other 7 segments have been archived. Please continue to enjoy the first segment! If you would like to listen to the entire interview please send us an email at with “Archived Interview Request” as the subject and then specify which interview you want to hear! Thanks for listening to I Had to Ask!

Recent Problem Accessing Podcasts

A couple of listeners have contacted me of a glitch in the program and I wanted to make you all aware…
If you are on an Apple product the media player on my website is not supported. ? Luckily you can still access the interviews via or the Podomatic App. Or you can access the podcasts in iTunes through Podcasts! ?

Thanks for listening to I Had to Ask!

I Had to Ask’s 2015 Year in Review

Best Documentary:

Revival: The Sam Bush Story

Being a huge Sam Bush fan I was honored to screen this movie at the IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, North Carolina. The movie tells the story of Sam Bush’s musical career and stars many big names in the industry including Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck, Allison Krauss as well as the Father of Newgrass and King of Telluride, Sam Bush.

To Watch the Trailer:

Most Inspiring Female in Bluegrass:

Sierra Hull

This year I found out who Sierra Hull is and I was inspired when I read bio after bio on her. She truly is an inspiration to me being a young musician. I thought it was so cool that at 11 years old she played with Sam Bush and at The Grand Ole Opry. She continues to do amazing things in the music community.

Her Website:

Favorite Emerging Artists:


I love this new band, Mipso. I got to meet the entire band and interview the mandolin and fiddle players, Jacob Sharp and Libby Rodebough. The whole band is very nice to talk with and their music is great. They topped the Bluegrass Today Charts as well as the Billboard Charts for their new album, “Old Time Reverie,” played at MerleFest and the IBMA WOB. They also got to play on the KFC Float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

To Listen to the Interview:

Their Website:

Favorite Concert:

Dead and Company, November 17, 2015, Atlanta, GA

My favorite concert I attended was Dead and Company. I got to go to my first Shakedown Street and Dead Show. The setlist was awesome including Not Fade Away, Brokedown Palace, and Help, Slip, Frank.

Here’s the Setlist:

Their Website:

Favorite Restaurant:

Signe’s Heaven Bound Bakery

I absolutely love Signe’s Bakery in Hilton Head Island. Her restaurant has been visited by Food Networks, Rachel Ray.

Tuesday Rundown

Today begins my four-day journey at the International Bluegrass Music Association World of Bluegrass. I am honored to have been issued a press/media pass to the Business Conference and Bluegrass Ramble for the second year in a row.
The rainy weather at the beginning of the day did not deter the bluegrass community in any way.
I attended the Grant Writing 101 seminar with Sarah Corrin, the Arts Grant Coordinator for the City of Raleigh. The reason I decided to attend is because grant writing is just something I am curious about. I hope it will transfer to writing scholarship applications in the future.
I also attended a session on conducting great interviews, so I hope you will be able to tell the difference in the podcast portion of I Had to Ask.
The highlight of the day was attending the film festival screening of the new movie “Revival: The Sam Bush Story”. It is such a good story that expresses how influential Sam Bush is to the music industry.
In the afternoon I attended the Keynote Reception and Address. The keynote speaker, Nick Forster, talked about Hot Rize, traveling to Czechoslovakia with Sam Bush and Friends, and other bluegrass music experiences.
It is an honor to be invited to attend and report at the festival this week. I am very excited to interview Mipso, check out the Mountain Home Company concert event, and go to the Business Conference Expo tomorrow.

What Inspires Jan Hudson of The Fossil Creek Band

I talked with Jan Hudson a songwriter and the banjo player for The Fossil Creek Band about her inspirations. In the interview, I posed two main questions. The first being, “What inspires you to play an instrument?” and the second being, “What inspires you in general?”

Here’s what I learned…

Jan Hudson is an extremely positive musician who is inspired by pretty much anything, as noted in the interview “even flowers.” Jan  Hudson was inspired to start playing the banjo when she went to see Steve Martin in concert and he said: “you can’t be depressed while playing the banjo.”

Interviewing Jan Hudson was an all around positive experience. Jan’s excitement definitely is contagious. Thanks for reading what I Had to Ask.

One Thing I Learned Talking with Andy Rigney

At he IBMA I talked with Andy Rigney the 2014-2015 IBMA Youth Council President.
I learned that the IBMA Youth Council is a support group for young bluegrass musicians. It is an outlet for musicians of all ages to express themselves.


Subscribe on iTunes!

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Interviews and Blog Posts to Look forward to… 

From Camp Airy

Dr. David Framm a Cardiologist

Max Katz a Public Health Major

Matt Kaplan on Israel

Shimone Smith an Israeli Musician

Bob Matthews on his Pet Tiger (and other cool stuff!)

The People of Uganda

I had the amazing opportunity to talk to Reverend David Day of Northeast United Methodist Church about his mission trip to Uganda. A big part of the interview was the different people of Uganda. From the young girl, Lydia who inspired him to go, to Stephen, the child he met in Uganda I talked with Pastor David about them all.

Lydia was barely a toddler when her mother abandoned her in a pit latrine in Uganda. Luckily for her, she was rescued and put in an orphanage. When Northeast UMC’S Youth and Children’s Minister and family visited Uganda they adopted her. Pastor David said, “When I first laid eyes on Lydia, my heart was broken, and I knew I was being called to help those in Uganda.”

When David went on his trip he became friends with a boy named Stephen at the VBS his church was sponsoring. Day said, “Stephen had the most beautiful smile.” Fortunately for both Stephen and David they were able to spend time throwing the Frisbee during and get to know each other. David said that he realized after he had played Frisbee with Stephen that he had helped Stephen forget about his life and focus on something more positive than not having shoes to wear.

Pastor David Day also got to enrich pastors in Uganda’s spiritual knowledge. He worked with 30 pastors and other church leaders to help them have more knowledge and better churches.

David had the opportunity to work in the medical clinics and help those in need. He also helped set up rain barrels for widows in need of water, since water in Africa is scarce.

As you can see Pastor David was able to make huge differences in people’s lives in foreign countries. Just hearing his stories were unbelievable. I hope one day I can do mission trips just like Pastor David one day!

Thanks for reading what I Had to Ask!!!

It Gets Funner and Funner: Andy May Interview

This is an overview of my interview with Andy May, there was too much background noise to publish it.

When I sat down with Andy May we immediately started talking about how he had the amazing opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall. Since the layout of Carnegie Hall is different from a traditional theater, he describes the audience seating, “like a wall of people.” Andy recalls the wall filling the “left side of vision to the right.”

Since I was at MerleFest at the time of the interview I felt that it was only fitting to inquire about his Acoustic Kids program. He credited his wife Lauren with helping get the program started. May told me the most rewarding thing about leading the Acoustic Kids program is “seeing kids gaining maturity and succeeding in what they do.” Hearing Andy May talk about the Acoustic Kids program led me to ask about doing his school program, Andy says that the key to teaching children in schools is to, “make what you want to present to the audience relevant.”

Towards the end of the interview, Andy gave some advice to younger listeners. He said, “Be open to good advice, be wary of bad advice. Sometimes folks may share their opinion with you when they aren’t qualified to.

When asked Andy May said that the advice to a younger him is to, “keep the faith.”

To conclude Andy May said that “it [music] just gets funner and funner.”


It was such pleasure to interview Andy May!

Upcoming Interview with Shimon Smith

Did you like the movie Frozen? People across the world do… we will hear from Shimon Smith who was in the Hebrew dubbing of Frozen. Shimon is a talented musician who lives in Israel, has a band who has released an album, writes Jewish-American songs, and is the song leader at Camp Airy and Capital Camps in Western Maryland. Shimon talked to me about being in the Israeli army, being the Israeli representative in Montgomery, Alabama, being in the Hebrew dubbing of Frozen, and the differences between summer camps.

Sneak Peek:

Q: Do you write your own songs or do you use other people’s songs.

A: I’ve been writing songs for the past 4 years, I write American Jewish songs. I’ve written about 10 songs that are good for camps.

Upcoming Podcast with Bob Matthews

Would YOU let a tiger suck on your finger? Bob Matthews mothered a tiger cub, and even has a callous on his finger to prove it! Listen to hear how this Instructor at Yavapai College in Prescott Arizona teaches students about the wilderness. If you love nature, want to hear about tracking animals, or want to know about raising a tiger cub, listen to this podcast!

Sneak Peek:

Q: What is it like to track bears?

A: It is quite difficult, the bears have a soft foot pad so they are hard to track.

Upcoming Podcast with Max Katz

Do you want to be part of the medical field but don’t want to be a doctor? Choosing to study something in the school of public health like Max Katz who is majoring in community health might be a good option for you! Max talked to me about what a public health major is, why he chose public health as his major, and what kind of jobs you can get with this type of degree.

Sneak Peek:

Q: What are some differences between the job of a doctor or a nurse and the job of a person in a public health field?

A: The job of a doctor is to fix you up and the job of a person in the public health field’s job focuses more on preventative health measures. (paraphrased)

Upcoming Podcast with Dr. David J. Framm

I talk with Dr.David Framm a cardiologist in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr.Framm talked to me about being a doctor, why he does it, advice he has given and received, and who and what inspires him. Dr. Framm has won many awards, honors, and recognition.

Want to be a doctor? Listen to this podcast!

Sneak Peek:

Q: Where did you go to medical school?

A: I went to George Washington University,