Exhibit hall shows off plenty of bluegrass wares, services

tgoldsmith@newsobserver.comSeptember 27, 2013 

  • If you go

    The exhibit hall is in the lower level of the Raleigh Convention Center downtown. It is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

— The International Bluegrass Music Association’s convention exhibit hall offers fans a wide range of price points: From a free C.F. Martin flat pick to a 1924 Gibson F-5 mandolin with a $175,000 price tag.

Initially open to conference attendees only, the exhibit hall in the lower level of the Raleigh Convention Center opened to the general public Friday and Saturday.

Amid the booths for booking agencies, barbecue sauces, bands and festivals, quite a range of retail products beckon visitors in the exhibit area.

Raleigh designer Holly Aiken’s new line of banjo-themed leather goods proved a popular item. By early afternoon Thursday, Aiken’s booth had already sold about 15 of the banjo items at prices from $138 for a large tote to $26 for a wallet, said production manager Whitney Drummond.

Plenty of people were stopping by the Elderly Instruments booth to look at the high-end vintage Gibson mandolin, with a value that relies on its closeness in age and model to the one played by bluegrass founder Bill Monroe.

At the nearby Martin Guitar booth, a gorgeous guitar labeled “1941 D-28 Authentic” was going for a suspiciously low $8,000. A booth employee confirmed that it was a reproduction made by the famous guitar company; similar vintage models run to the mid-five figures.

One of a number of exhibitors selling instruments and related devices, Melanie Rose Dyer came from Nashville to market Cooperstand foldable instrument stands, in a variety of sizes for different instruments.

“We thought there should be a stand that would fit inside a guitar case,” Dyer said, surrounded by high-level instruments perched on the company’s products.

Donna Spivey, of Chadbourn, was taking in the sights with her daughter, Wendy, but said she had come late to technology in her career of playing music and operating Donna’s Fine Instruments.

“I was grown, married and had children before I ever sang bluegrass into a microphone,” said Donna Spivey, 56, a fan of Monroe-style, old-school bluegrass.

Goldsmith: 919-829-8929

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