by Bob Geary
Denny Edwards dubbed it "the Super Bowl of Bluegrass Music." Well, it (the World of Bluegrass) is coming to Raleigh in the fall of 2013, 2014 and 2015 — after which, maybe it'll be permanent?
Edwards is CEO of the Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is busting its buttons at getting the International Bluegrass Music Association to bring its annual meeting, awards show and three-day festival of twangy 'grass to Raleigh in the fall for at least the next three years. (A press release with the dates is below.)
But I liked what William Lewis called it when I asked him if the World of Bluegrass would spill out of the Raleigh Convention Center and its immediate environs and into the smaller clubs and gathering spots downtown.
Lewis, who heads the local Pinecone music organization and is the newest member of the IBMA board, said Raleigh's forming a host committee for the events, and the point is for businesses to make the most of the fact that the festival is in town. "It'll be the Hopscotch of Bluegrass music," Lewis quipped.
So, here's how it'll work. The IBMA meeting goes on for four days and the festival is three, and there may or may not be some overlap. (The IBMA's contract is for 5-7 days each year.) The meeting will be in the convention center. The awards show and festival will be there, and also in City Plaza, the Raleigh Amphitheater and at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, a four-pack of venues that Raleigh officials have apparently taken to calling our "arts campus."
Edwards says the IBMA will bring 16,000 visitors to town, half of them from somewhere other than the Triangle, with a total economic pop for Raleigh of almost $10 million a year. His sales team's been working on this deal for five years, he said. The very best bluegrass musicians and bands in the world will be here.
Until now, IBMA events have been in Nashville, where the group's offices are (and where they'll continue to be, unless and until we can steal, er, attract them here too).
Lewis said all the downtown venues will be invited to jump in with their own complementary events, not necessarily bluegrass, while the IBMA is here. Our Hopscotch thing is that way, of course, with a lot of free (unticketed, anyway) stuff going on downtown—a lot of which we encourage/organize—even as the Indy is selling tickets to a three day event with 175 bands in 15 venues.
The IBMA put out a press release today. Here it is:
IBMA Announces Annual Conference Move to Raleigh for 2013-2015
Nashville, Tenn-The International Bluegrass Music Association announced its plans today to move its World of Bluegrass events to Raleigh, North Carolina for the next three years, 2013-2015. World of Bluegrass Week includes the four-day IBMA Business Conference, the International Bluegrass Music Awards Show, and the three-day Bluegrass Fan Fest. The annual industry summit/bluegrass family reunion draws over 16,000 fans, artists, and music industry professionals from around the world for the week-long event, with an estimated 8,000-10,000 coming from outside the region. World of Bluegrass provides opportunities for showcasing, professional development, and networking at the largest concentrated week of powerful, live bluegrass music on the planet.
The following World of Bluegrass dates have been announced, with the option for a five- or seven-day event each year:
September 23 - 29, 2013
September 29 - October 5, 2014
September 28 - October 4, 2015
World of Bluegrass 2013-2015 will be hosted at the Raleigh Convention Center, the Raleigh Amphitheater and Memorial Auditorium, with hotel blocks at the Raleigh Marriott City Center, the Sheraton Raleigh and six additional nearby hotels.
“If someone had designed a venue perfect for our events, the City of Raleigh could not have done a better job,” said IBMA Board of Directors chair Stan Zdonik. “Raleigh offers us a compact ‘campus’ that includes both indoor and outdoor stages, as well as a state-of-the-art convention center that incorporates a bright and open atmosphere. We're getting substantial savings and value from Raleigh, both for individual World of Bluegrass attendees and for our organization as a whole. We’re overwhelmed already by the strong support from the City of Raleigh, the Raleigh Convention Center and Venues, the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau, and PineCone (Piedmont Council of Traditional Music), along with an enthusiastic welcome from the local bluegrass music community. IBMA anticipates a successful event and a long-term partnership with Raleigh.”