If bluegrass music has a Super Bowl, it’s the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) World of Bluegrass week — the world’s largest urban bluegrass festival. The festival kicks off Tuesday, Sept. 26, with the Bluegrass Ramble and wraps up Friday, Sept. 29, and Saturday, Sept. 30, with Wide Open Bluegrass 2017 presented by PNC at the Red Hat Amphitheater in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina.
In between is a business conference featuring Greensboro’s own Rhiannon Giddens as the keynote speaker and exhibits at the Raleigh Convention Center, as well as the 28th Annual IBMA Awards Show hosted by Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn — acclaimed artists in their respective careers and GRAMMY winners in their duo work — Thursday night at the Duke Performing Arts Center.
If you don't have a coveted ticket to the IBMA’s incredible lineup on the Wide Open Main Stage this year, don't despair. There is more than enough free music to take in on Friday and Saturday as more than 100 bands perform on seven stages along Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh.
Performers include a broad mix of local, national and international talent. The dance tent will feature clogging performances, participatory square dances and late-night open dancing Friday and Saturday nights. And don’t miss the Youth Music Stage — situated on the outdoor plaza at the Convention Center. Please note the artist lineup is subject to change without notice.
No self-respecting North Carolina event is complete without barbecue. The North Carolina Pork Council will once again host the 2017 Whole Hog Barbecue Championship as part of Wide Open Bluegrass. The best whole hog barbecue chefs in North Carolina square off to become state champion. After the judges have had their say, the mouth-watering barbecue will be chopped and sold in sandwiches Saturday to festival attendees.
Formerly known as FanFest, the Wide Open Main Stage features 18 incredible acts made up of Bluegrass Hall of Famers, emerging stars and one-of-a-kind jams. One- and two-day tickets with great seats are still available. Trust me when I say you don’t want to miss this year’s lineup featuring The Kruger Brothers with Kontras Quartet, Flatt Lonesome, Mark O’Connor, Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas and the Infamous Stringdusters on Friday and wraps up the festival on Saturday with Chatham County Line, Sierra Hull, Balsam Range, Hot Rize (featuring Tim O’Brien) and the Steep Canyon Rangers with Steve Martin. Martin and the members of Steep are using their festival appearance to celebrate the release of “The Long-Awaited Album” on Rounder Records. The album, produced by Grammy-winning producer Peter Asher, marks Steep’s fourth collaboration with Martin.
And at Wide Open Main Stage you will have the bluegrass time of your life for a good cause: Up to half of the net proceeds support the Bluegrass Trust Fund, a nonprofit helping bluegrass professionals in times of need.