Updated: The Ringers, originally set to perform Friday, will perform at Red Hat Amphitheater Saturday at 8 p.m.
Tuesday kicks off the seventh annual International Bluegrass Music Association’s week in Raleigh, with a conference, awards ceremony and tons and tons of free music.
That’s eight stages of music, plus the impromptu performances that spring up on the streets of downtown Raleigh and in the hallways of the Raleigh Convention Center and nearby hotels, plus the night spots that play host to the Bluegrass Ramble.
This year for the first time, the headline acts performing at Red Hat Amphitheater for Wide Open Bluegrass will be free. While there will be some prime ticketed seating available, the idea is to make “Wide Open Bluegrass” true to its name.
“IBMA is transitioning our festival to a free, mission-forward event — taking bluegrass to the masses by reducing all barriers to participation,” Paul Schiminger, IBMA’s executive director, said earlier this year in a news release.
IBMA has become a major economic driver for Raleigh since it moved from Nashville in 2013. It continues to set attendance records.
Last year — the sixth edition — attracted more than 223,000 people, according to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh). Visitors spent $12.7 million during the week, The News & Observer reported last year.
All told, more than 1 million have attended festival activities, The N&O reported, with $61 million in visitor spending over the first six years of World of Bluegrass. IBMA and the city of Raleigh agreed to a deal to extend the event’s contract through at least 2021.
Here’s a look at the basics for this year’s festival, and a more detailed schedule. Note that acts and times are subject to change.
World of Bluegrass details
▪ Events will be Sept. 24-28 in downtown Raleigh, the Raleigh Convention Center, Red Hat Amphitheater, the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and other venues around downtown.
This includes the IBMA Business Conference; the Bluegrass Ramble music showcase; the International Bluegrass Music Awards; and Wide Open Bluegrass.
▪ The Bluegrass Ramble features ticketed shows Tuesday through Thursday around downtown.
▪ The IBMA Awards ceremony is Thursday, Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center.
Updated: Here are the 2019 winners.
▪ Wide Open Bluegrass, the free shows, are Friday and Saturday with shows starting 11 a.m. to 12 noon and going into the night.
▪ The World of Bluegrass Expo at the Raleigh Convention Center features vendors, gear and products for music fans. It’s open to the public Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For details, go to worldofbluegrass.org.
Bluegrass Week venues
▪ Architect Bar & Social House: 108 1/2 E. Hargett St., Raleigh. architectbar.com
▪ Kings: 14 W. Martin St., Raleigh. kingsraleigh.com
▪ Lincoln Theatre: 126 E. Cabarrus St., Raleigh. lincolntheatre.com
▪ The Pour House: 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh. thepourhousemusichall.com
▪ Raleigh Convention Center: 500 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh. raleighconvention.com
▪ Raleigh Marriott City Center: 500 Fayetteville St. Mall, Raleigh. (Carolina Suite on third floor, Congressional Room, State Ballroom AB and University Ballroom).
▪ Red Hat Amphitheater: 500 S. McDowell St, Raleigh. redhatamphitheater.com
▪ Vintage Church: 118 S. Person St., Raleigh. vintagenc.com
You can also find a map at worldofbluegrass.org.
IBMA Conference and Keynote
The International Bluegrass Music Association’s business conference — with the theme of “Roots and Routes: Plotting Your Course” — is at the Raleigh Convention Center Tuesday through Thursday. There will be sessions for bluegrass professionals, including artists, record labels, agents, publishers and more.
Tuesday, Sept. 24, Grammy-winning banjoist Alison Brown will give the keynote address at 4 p.m. with the title, “Four and a Half Things I’ve Learned.” She will “share insights she’s gained over the past 25 years at the helm of one of roots music’s most successful independent labels,” Compass Records, according to IBMA.
This will be the second time she has presented this address, according to a news release, with the first time 17 years ago. She said she plans to address the changes the industry now faces and how to keep bluegrass thriving.
“The music industry has undergone a radical transformation in the way music is sold and consumed,” Brown said in a statement. “All of the players in the ecosystem – from the record labels to the retailers to the artists and the fans – have been affected.”
The keynote is in the 4th floor Ballroom of the Raleigh Convention Center.
Plus there is a gig fair, song critique session and showcases. Advance registration is required for many events or conference registration.
Performers will be spread out at concerts Tuesday through Thursday at Architect Bar & Social House, Kings, Lincoln Theater, Pour House, Vintage Church and the Raleigh Convention Center (two stages).
The Ramble kicks off with a party at Lincoln Theater Tuesday at 6 p.m. with Special Consensus, an IBMA award winner and Grammy nominee.
Overall, there will be 200 performances. Admission requires an IBMA Business Conference badge or Bluegrass Ramble wristband.
A three-day pass is $50 for IBMA members, $60 for non-members and day-of admission. (A pass is included with conference registration).
Single-day passes are $25 for members, $30 for non-members and day-of admission.
Bluegrass is at the forefront all week, but the awards ceremony will honor some of the best music and musicians out there.
Awards will be given in 17 categories, plus three inductees will be recognized with their inductions into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.
Thursday’s ceremony is hosted by Del McCoury and Jim Lauderdale, who have picked up their share of awards in the past. Performers include many of this year’s nominees and previous winners.
The Entertainer of the Year nominees are Balsam Range, who won last year, Sam Bush Band, The Earls of Leicester, Del McCoury Band and Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers. Other acts with multiple nominations include Sister Sadie, Carolina Blue, Mile Twelve, Molly Tuttle, Missy Raines and Rhonda Vincent, according to a news release.
The ceremony will be streamed live at facebook.com/intlbluegrass and on Sirius XM Satellite Radio (Bluegrass Junction).
Wide Open Bluegrass Lineup
Shows are Friday and Saturday at Red Hat Amphitheater, with the Wide Open Bluegrass Streetfest on Fayetteville Street and around downtown Raleigh.
Here is the Red Hat Amphitheater lineup:
Friday, September 27
5 p.m. — Sister Sadie
6:05 p.m. — Balsam Range
7:15 p.m. — Molly Tuttle
8:25 p.m. — I’m With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarsoz, Aoife O’Donovan)
Saturday, September 28
5 p.m. — “You Gave Me a Song: Celebrating the Music of Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard” featuring Alice Gerrard, Laurie Lewis, Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Justin Hiltner, Jon Weisberger and Eliza Meyer
6:10 p.m. — Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
7:15 p.m. — Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
8 p.m. — The Ringers featuring Jerry Douglas, Ronnie McCoury, Todd Phillips, Christian Sedelmyer and Dan Tyminski (rescheduled from Friday)
8:30 p.m. — Del McCoury Band, with Dierks Bentley, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jon Fishman (of Phish) and Sierra Hull
Shout & Shine: A Celebration of Diversity in Bluegrass
In previous years, Shout & Shine has been part of the Bluegrass Ramble. This year, Shout & Shine will take over Friday’s programming of the Dance Tent as part of the free Wide Open Bluegrass street festival. The dance tent is at the south end of Fayetteville Street.
12-12:45 p.m. — Open dance with Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band (open dance)
1:15-2:15 p.m. — Nic Gareiss and Allison de Groot (step dance demonstration)
2:45-3:30 p.m. — Hubby Jenkins (open dance)
4-4:45 p.m. — Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer and the Grassabilly Rockets (open dance)
5:15-6:15 p.m. – Cane Mill Road with Williette Hinton (open dance, buckdancing demonstration)
6:45-7:30 p.m. – Lakota John (open dance)
8-9 p.m. – Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, with ASL interpreter (open dance)
9:30-11 p.m. – Shout & Shine Square Dance Party with Jake Blount, Tatiana Hargreaves, Boo Radley (caller), and friends (inclusive square dance)
Whole Hog Barbecue Championship
What goes better with bluegrass music than barbecue? The annual championship will be Saturday, Sept. 28, with all-you-can-eat barbecue from 28 award-winning pitmasters. The championship, according to the contest’s website, features winners from a series of cookoffs around the state. They’re competing for best whole hog barbecue but also best sauce, crispy skin, blind-taste juding and a people’s choice award.
Find the barbecue at 2 E. South Street, in front of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Admission gets you all the ‘cue you want. Proceeds go to the InterFaith Food Shuttle and the IBMA Bluegrass Trust Fund. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 day-of. wholehogbarbecue.com