Fall is still a summer away, but the International Bluegrass Music Association and Raleigh are already buzzing with preparations for the second year of IBMA's September downtown invasion. Don't expect it to stop soon: Yesterday, at a press conference, IBMA revealed that it would host its week of events in Raleigh through 2018, three years longer than the original deal dictated.
Given how successful the festival was during its first year in Raleigh, the extension should be a continued boon to both the city and
IBMA. According to Denny Edwards, the president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the city welcomed 154,000 local and out-of-town visitors last year, resulting in roughly $10 million in direct visitor spending. As for IBMA, chairman Jon Weisberger said the festival has seen a 39% uptick in membership after years of dipping numbers. All of that can't be attributed to IBMA’s move to Raleigh, of course, but he said the reinvigoration certainly helped.
The full festival lineup hasn't been announced, but the headliners are grand so far: Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder and Bruce Hornsby are the main events, with Del McCoury, Steep Canyon Rangers, Hot Rize, The Gibson Brothers and Sierra Hull also performing. Another major highlight comes with the Friday night Wide Open Jam, which will feature bluegrass heavyhitters Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Jerry Douglas.
Organizers teased a few additions, too—expanded events on Cabarrus Street, as well as an expansion of the whole-hog barbecue championship. More details should emerge soon.
During last year’s IBMA week, INDY
videographer and writer Dan Schram worked with the likes of Peter Rowan, Jim Lauderdale and Chatham County Line to capture some of Raleigh’s contributions to bluegrass on the porch of Bill Monroe's one-time house in Raleigh. We'll begin to roll those videos out soon, as IBMA 2014 heads for Raleigh.
In the meantime, you can check out our recap of IBMA 2013, produced by Schram and Gabe Nelson.