Updated: The Ringers, originally set to perform Friday night, will now perform Saturday at 8 p.m. at Red Hat.
This weekend is Wide Open Bluegrass, when you can hear bluegrass music coming from seemingly almost everywhere in downtown Raleigh.
There are plenty of acts to hit stages throughout downtown, plus Red Hat Amphitheater’s highlight shows features some of the biggest names in the industry. This year, for the first, time, those Red Hat shows are free.
Here are some of our picks of acts to check out. But if you find yourself with time on your hands, it’s always a good bet to check out up-and-coming musicians at the J.A.M. Stage or Youth Stage.
Or duck into one of the downtown hotel lobbies to tap your toes along to a jam or in a sponsored suite hosting performances.
Be sure to check out the vendors and food offerings along Fayetteville Street, and always, always, keep your ears open for jams spilling out from street corners, hotel lobbies, and every nook and cranny.
Friday, September 27
Red Hat Amphitheater schedule
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)
This Asheville band blends songwriting with stringband sounds that feel at once old and completely modern. Songwriter Anya Hinkle has been winning awards and climbing charts with her songs that tell stories you likely haven’t heard before, and likely won’t soon forget.
Where to see them: 12:15 p.m., Capitol Stage
Tatiana Hargreaves & Allison De Groot
This talented fiddle-and-banjo duo put out an album this year featuring old-time tunes that tell the stories people on the margins — women, people of color and more. Their classic sound fits right into the modern world. On Saturday, Hargreaves and De Groot will be part of the “You Gave Me a Song” celebration of the music of Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard.
Where to see them: Friday, 5:15 p.m., Capitol Stage; Saturday, 5 p.m., Red Hat Amphitheater
Darin & Brooke Aldridge
From Cherryville, NC, this husband-and-wife act are on a career trajectory that is going straight up. Alone or blended with her husband’s vocals, Brooke Aldridge’s voice is a thrill every time, and she’s got the IBMA Female Vocalist awards (with another nomination this year) to prove it. While their style is unmistakably bluegrass, the songs they choose represent a range of genres, which means you’ll hear old favorites and find some new ones, too.
Where to see them: Friday, 6:30 p.m., Capitol Stage; Saturday, 6:15 p.m., Plaza Stage
Balsam Range with the NC State University Symphony
They’re the reigning IBMA Entertainers of the Year, and it’s for a reason. These guys, from Haywood County, NC, bring great music and a fun show everywhere they go. To set that bar even higher, for this set they’re playing with the NC State University Symphony. As if that mix of bluegrass and classical weren’t enough, they’ll also be adding in some Beatles: “If I Needed Someone,” which Balsam Range recorded on their most recent album, “Aeonic,” is on the set list Friday.
Where to see them: 6:05 p.m., Red Hat Amphitheater
Her debut full-length album, “When You’re Ready,” landed with a giant splash last spring, and this talented guitarist (the first woman to win that instrument award from IBMA, a title she’s held on to for two years so far) hasn’t stopped moving since. Her singing and songwriting is just as astonishing as her guitar work, making for a show you absolutely won’t want to miss.
Where to see her: 7:15 p.m., Red Hat Amphitheater
Saturday, Sept. 28
Red Hat Amphitheater schedule
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
The Henhouse Prowlers
This Chicago-based bluegrass band is passionate about music and its power to reach past language and any other barriers. Through the U.S. State Department and their own nonprofit organization, they’ve traveled to more than 25 countries to bring this American music to the world and to bring the world’s music back into bluegrass. It all makes for a unique sound and a set rich with stories and inspiration.
Where to see them: 1:30 p.m., Capitol Stage
Hoot and Holler
Songwriters Amy Alvey and Mark Kilianski have traveled all over the world with their stringband music, but their musical home (and actual home in Asheville) is firmly rooted in the sounds of Appalachia. Their songs are filled with character (and characters), and their voices and playing make any stage feel like a front porch jam you don’t want to end.
Where to see them: 3 p.m., Hargett Street Stage
Bill and the Belles
Based in Bristol, the birthplace of country music, Kris Truelsen and his band dip deep into history for their original songs, which tap into the earliest sounds of country music. They’re the house band for radio show “Farm and Fun Time,” even writing jingles for show sponsors that are as delightful as the songs on the set list.
Where to see them: 5:30 p.m., Hargett Street Stage
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
With their most recent album titled “If You Can’t Stand the Heat,” you know Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen are cooking up something tasty. The band has a deep collection of IBMA awards, including a nomination on mandolin this year for frontman Solivan, and they always serve up a great set of original songs and fun covers.
Where to see them: 6:10 p.m., Red Hat Amphitheater
A Celebration with the Del McCoury Band and Travelin’ McCourys
One-time Bill Monroe bandmate Del McCoury is as bluegrass as it gets, but he never fails to find a way to make that high lonesome sound fit in with other genres, to great effect. This set pairs him with fellow bluegrass stars Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas and Sierra Hull, as well as the great Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jon Fishman (of jamband Phish) and country star Dierks Bentley. It’ll be a set full of surprises, but you shouldn’t be surprised when it’s great.
Where to see them: 8:30 p.m., Red Hat Amphitheater