Hot Rize won Entertainer of the Year at the 1st Bluegrass Awards. Now they’re back as hosts.

Hot Rize features from left is Bryan Sutton, Pete "Dr. Banjo" Wernick, Nick Forster and Tim O'Brien.
Hot Rize features from left is Bryan Sutton, Pete "Dr. Banjo" Wernick, Nick Forster and Tim O'Brien. Photo courtesy of IBMA.

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World of Bluegrass 2018

The International Bluegrass Music Association conference, awards ceremony, Bluegrass Ramble and World of Bluegrass is in Raleigh, NC, Sept. 25-29, 2018. Find our stories here.

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Hot Rize will host this year’s IBMA Awards Show, Sept. 27 at Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh — right before the Wide Open Bluegrass outdoor events.

“This is a big deal for us,” said Hot Rize bassist Nick Forster in an interview on Tuesday. “We were outsiders when we first started, being from Colorado and with the thrift-store clothes, phase shifter and electric bass. We were never down the straight and narrow.”

Despite those outsider beginnings, the IBMA has always been good to Hot Rize. The Colorado-based band won Entertainer of the Year in the very first IBMA Awards in 1990 — “just as we were breaking up,” Forster quipped.

This year’s festival, the sixth year in Raleigh, will be Sept. 25-29.

The International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual business conference is the first part of World of Bluegrass, which also includes the “Bluegrass Ramble” nightclub shows, trade show, IBMA Awards and the Wide Open Bluegrass outdoor program of street shows and performers at Red Hat Amphitheater.

This will be the first time the band has hosted the ceremony, though its members have been involved with IBMA in other ways.

Two Hot Rize members, mandolinist Tim O’Brien and banjo player Pete Wernick, have served as president of the IBMA board of directors. O’Brien, Wernick and Forster have also all delivered the IBMA convention keynote address in years past.

After years of being a mostly part-time operation, Hot Rize returned in 2014 with its first new album in a quarter-century and played that year’s Wide Open Bluegrass in Raleigh. The band has remained active since then and has a live album coming out this summer.

Last year’s awards show was hosted by Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn. It featured the first-ever female winner for guitar player of the year, Molly Tuttle.

This year’s awards show will have the theme of “The Oak Tree.” There may or may not be some comedic content from Hot Rize’s masked alter ego, Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers.

“I am not at liberty to reveal that,” Forster said. “But I would not be surprised if there were a cameo or two during the evening.”

The “Bluegrass Ramble” lineup of nightclub acts was announced last month, and keynote speaker Jamie Dailey last week. Still to come are announcements on IBMA Award nominees, more Red Hat acts and the lineup for the Wide Open Bluegrass free street festival.

This will be the sixth year that IBMA has held its annual shindig in Raleigh. Last year’s events drew total estimated attendance of more than 221,000. It was announced last month that World of Bluegrass would be in Raleigh through 2021.

For ticket information on World of Bluegrass and the IBMA Awards Show, see WorldOfBluegrass.org.

World of Bluegrass 2018

Here’s a look at announcements that have been made already about the 2018 event.

Who is performing?

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Who’s the keynote speaker?

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Raleigh, IBMA officials announce World of Bluegrass is returning to Raleigh

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Get to know Hot Rize

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Who won last year’s IBMA Awards?

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David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi
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