North Carolina has so much to offer tourists and locals alike from decadent food and historic sites to breath-taking beaches and memorable museums, but North Carolina holds a special place in the hearts of music lovers, and fans of bluegrass music will be flocking to Raleigh, North Carolina, September 24-28 for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual convention and awards ceremonies.
Small bluegrass festivals and band performances pop up annually across the state of North Carolina, but this 5-day event will be the ultimate windfall for this music genre’s fans. Under the umbrella title World of Bluegrass, the event is actually 3 separate events combined into 1: the IBMA Business Conference (from September 24-26) focuses on development and networking for bluegrass professionals, the 24th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards (September 26) honors musicians for their contributions to the field and Wide Open Bluegrass (September 27-28) features performances by bluegrass musicians, a number of workshops and jam sessions, as well as other ticketed events.
IBMA’s Business Conference
This 3-day conference is comprised of morning and afternoon seminars for bluegrass professionals. Conference-goers are invited to attend presentations and network with fellow musicians. The culmination of the conference is Thursday night’s IBMA Awards where bluegrass greats and newcomers alike are honored by fellow musicians for their accomplishments and contributions. Tickets are for sale to the public. See http://ibmaawards.org/ for details.
The Bluegrass Ramble
If you are not yourself a bluegrass musician, do not worry! You will not be left out of the music. Convention attendees and bluegrass fans alike are invited to “The Bluegrass Ramble”.
This event bridges the IBMA Business Conference and the Fan Festival over the weekend. Music lovers are welcome to “ramble” around Raleigh sampling bluegrass performances during the evenings (September 24-28) in seven different venues—the Raleigh Convention Center, The Lincoln Theatre, The Long View Center, Pour House Music Hall Music Hall, Tir Na Nog, Kings, and The Architect Bar & Social Club Bar and Social House—until 2 a.m. “Ramblers” can pay for admission at the door of each venue, and prices vary. If you interested in the performance schedule, check out www.worldofbluegrass.org/schedule.html.
Wide Open Bluegrass
The weekend (September 27-28) is dedicated to International Bluegrass Music Association’s fan fest, and four large indoor shows offer variety for every bluegrass fanatic. Musicians are performing 20-minute sets on September 27, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Raleigh Convention Center stage; the second session is 45- to 90-minute sets on September 27 is from 11:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the Red Hat Amphitheater.
On Sunday, September 28, fans will be treated to 30- to 45-minute sets at the Raleigh Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then 45- to 90-minute sets at the Red Hat Amphitheater from 11:45 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Though Wide Open Bluegrass offers a range of musical greats and newcomers, the evening shows at Red Hat are particularly noteworthy: Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush (all contributors to the “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack), Del McCoury, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, and Mark Schatz close the September 27 show with a collaborative performance; the final performance of the weekend will be Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers with singer / songwriter Edie Brickell.
General admission seating tickets are still available, but they are going fast. Single-day tickets, ranging from $30 to $70, are good for two separate sessions for either September 27 or 28, and two-day tickets, ranging from $70 to $140, are good for all of the shows. If you interested in further details or tickets, go here.
Alternatively, you can choose to soak up the live music outside offered on three stages on Fayetteville Street where about 50 regional and national groups will perform from around noon to 11 p.m. on both days. Visit these stages at the City Plaza, Martin Street and Hargett Street and check out the youth stage and dance tent with clogger and square dancing troupes.
Over the course of 5 days, Wide Open Bluegrass will feature more than 175 bluegrass acts, making Raleigh, North Carolina, the premier bluegrass destination this fall.