Since 2013, Raleigh has been home to the annual International Bluegrass Music Association trade conference and music festival. It's one of the biggest weeks of the year for the musicians, craftspeople, and media in the bluegrass industry, but there's plenty to enjoy for ordinary fans, too.
This year's two-day ticketed festival features many of the biggest names in bluegrass: Steep Canyon Rangers and Steve Martin, The Infamous Stringdusters, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Hot Rize, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush, and the Travelin' McCourys, to name a few. There's also a special appearance by Bluegrass 45, a Japanese group that helped popularize bluegrass in its home country.
The festival's Raleigh-specific component has been the free street festival that's open to the public, which has proven to be a runaway hit among locals. On Friday and Saturday, you can catch sets from David Holt and Josh Goforth, Joe Newberry and April Verch, Scythian, Town Mountain, and several dozen more. And on Saturday, Chatham County Line closes out the festivities with a special electric set. In addition to the many music sets, several clog esnembles will appear, and there are multiple opportunities for square dancing, contra dancing, and more—so go ahead and get your shoes shined up now. —Allison Hussey