Alison Krauss was supposed to be one of the marquee acts for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s first year in Raleigh in 2013. She had to cancel due to illness, but she’s making up for that this year.
Krauss & Union Station will come to Raleigh as the biggest-name headliner on this year’s “Wide Open Bluegrass” main-stage shows, Oct. 2-3 at Red Hat Amphitheater. That was the biggest revelation at a midday Thursday news conference at the Raleigh Convention Center, which featured catered barbecue, bluegrass banjo by local musician Hank Smith and a parade of eight speakers at the podium.
Also announced were genre luminaries including mandolinist Sam Bush, Dobro master Jerry Douglas, Flatt and Scruggs tribute band Earls of Leicester, O’Connor Family Band (featuring noted fiddler Mark O’Connor), Gibson Brothers and Blue Highway. They join previously announced main-stage acts including Balsam Range, Kruger Brothers and Steep Canyon Rangers.
“This lineup shows the full range and makeup of bluegrass today,” said William Lewis, executive director of PineCone, which produces the festival.
Last year’s World of Bluegrass was the second of a six-year IBMA commitment to Raleigh, and it was a huge success. The five-day event drew an estimated 180,000 people to downtown Raleigh for shows, IBMA’s business convention and awards ceremony, and a free street festival.
That’s multiples more than the event ever drew in Nashville, and IBMA has since struggled with how to manage its growth. Following a series of board resignations last fall, a new executive director, Paul Schiminger, recently took over and was introduced by IBMA board chairman Jon Weisberger on Thursday as “a pretty fair banjo player.”
“I would underline ‘fair’ as opposed to ‘good’ banjo player,” Schiminger quipped.
Thursday’s other IBMA announcements were Cary-based pharmaceutical company Chiesi USA as a new sponsor alongside PNC Bank, and the return of the Whole Hog Barbecue Contest for a third year.
IBMA had previously announced the lineup for the “Bluegrass Ramble” club show acts. Still to come are announcements about the event’s keynote speaker, awards show host and lineup for the free street festival, which will have 80 acts on five stages.