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The countdown clock for Bluegrass Week has started ticking. Bring on the music.

The banjo sculpture countdown clock at downtown Raleigh’s City Plaza began counting down the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 18. Wide Open Bluegrass starts on Saturday, Sept. 28.
The banjo sculpture countdown clock at downtown Raleigh’s City Plaza began counting down the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 18. Wide Open Bluegrass starts on Saturday, Sept. 28. mike.williams@newsobserver.com

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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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Bluegrass lovers, take note: The countdown to the Wide Open Bluegrass festival has officially begun.

Tuesday morning, a crew installed the banjo-replica countdown clock in a light tower Raleigh’s City Plaza. It’s set to reach zero at noon on Friday, Sept. 28, when the Wide Open Bluegrass street festival begins.

Wide Open Bluegrass is part of the larger World of Bluegrass, which kicks off Tuesday, Sept. 25, with the International Bluegrass Music Association convention, awards ceremony and nightclub shows.

As for the sculpture, this is the second year of the countdown clock, which debuted in 2017. There is another piece in the lobby of the PNC Building a few blocks down Fayetteville Street, which is also counting down.

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“Last year, we put them up pretty much as soon as they were done,” said Landon Elmore, art director for the World of Bluegrass festival. “This year, they’re going up 10 days in advance.”

The sculptures, made by local mixed-media sculptor Jeff Magner, the sculptures are constructed of wood with piano wire standing in for banjo strings. They’re 10 feet high, four feet wide and weigh several hundred pounds. The electronic clocks count down days, hours and minutes. They’re plugged into outlets and are set by remote control.

Travelers waiting at the baggage claim at Raleigh Durham International Airport in February 2018 were greeted by DryBread Road, a bluegrass duo.

At City Plaza, chain and steel cables hold the banjo clock in place. The rest of the year, both pieces are mounted on a wall of the Duke Energy City just outside the offices of Pinecone, Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, which produces Wide Open Bluegrass.

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This is the sixth year IBMA has been in Raleigh, an arrangement that was recently extended to 2021.

Last year, World of Bluegrass events drew a total estimated attendance of more than 221,000 people.

Still to come this weekend in advance of the festival: the fifth annual installment of the Sir Walter Raleigh “Banjostand,” another sculpture that becomes selfie central during Bluegrass Week.

Drone footage and highlights from Raleigh’s Wide Open Bluegrass festival featuring clawhammer guitar by Molly Tuttle Saturday, September 30, 2017.

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