It’s bluegrass time in Downtown Raleigh, as the 2021 IBMA World of Bluegrass returns in person this week.
The event includes a conference, showcases, awards and a festival, and it’s not just for superfans of bluegrass.
IBMA Bluegrass Live!, on Friday and Saturday, includes ticketed main stage performances at Red Hat Amphitheater and free StreetFest performances on four additional stages on Fayetteville Street.
It’s an opportunity for music fans of any level of bluegrass knowledge to learn more about the genre after a break from the usual in-person experience in 2020.
David Brower, festival producer and executive director of music nonprofit PineCone, said the festival “reflects the community that we serve and brings joy to all who come downtown this weekend. … Bluegrass and all of its derivations is perfect to lift us all out of this time we’ve endured.”
“This music is all about bringing people together — to listen — to play and really, just be together,” he said.
“We live in a richly diverse community. The music is at its best when it’s able to embrace all of who we are as a people. That’s true in bluegrass as the most exciting things that have happened in this music have come when artists from all walks of life connect in a tune.”
Not sure where to start with such a full lineup? Here are 5 performers on this year’s lineup that represent diversity of performers and styles that you might not know, but won’t want to miss:
5 performances to see at IBMA Bluegrass Live!
Tray Wellington Band:
A five-string banjo player who’s already received accolades such as the 2019 IBMA Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year. [bio]
Performances: 4 p.m. Friday on the Main Stage, 8 p.m. Saturday on the Davie Stage.
The multi-instrumentalist and scholar’s style mixes blues, bluegrass and spirituals into an old-time string band tradition, while centering “experiences of queer people and people of color.” [bio]
Performance: 3:45 p.m. Friday on the Come Hear NC stage, a performance presented by Bluegrass Pride.
Fair Black Rose:
A young band from Arizona that plays traditional bluegrass with an infusion of “old-time, gospel, and popular songs into their repertoire.” [more info]
Performances: 1:15 p.m. Friday, Davie Street Stage; 2:20 p.m. Saturday, Youth Stage.
A solo artist and multi-instrumentalist, once part of the trio of Carolina Chocolate Drops, who has followed the “thread of African American history” through American music traditions. [bio]
Performances: 2:30 p.m. Friday, Capitol Stage; 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Davie Street Stage.
A “soul grass” band from Colorado with singer/songwriter Tyree Woods and a collective of other musicians. [bio]
Performance: 5:15 p.m. Friday on the Capitol stage.
How to go:
The street festival stages, outdoors and along Fayetteville Street, are free and open to the public. [map]
Full lineup: See the IBMA Bluegrass Live! Main Stage and StreetFest full schedule here.