Your weekend guide to World of Bluegrass, and how to find the free stuff

Tim O’Brien plays the Capitol Stage at Wide Open Bluegrass

Tim O'Brien with Jan Fabricius, 2018 fiddle Player of the Year Michael Cleveland and friends plays the Capitol Stage at Raleigh's Wide Open Bluegrass on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018.
Up Next
Tim O'Brien with Jan Fabricius, 2018 fiddle Player of the Year Michael Cleveland and friends plays the Capitol Stage at Raleigh's Wide Open Bluegrass on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018.

More from the series

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.

Expand All

The World of Bluegrass kicks into high gear this weekend with Wide Open Bluegrass — a combination of ticketed concerts and free street festival.

Here are some highlights and music schedules. For complete details and tickets, go to ibma.org and wideopenbluegrass.com.

Note that acts and times are subject to change.

Wide Open Bluegrass

Main Stage: Shows are Friday and Saturday at Red Hat Amphitheater. Single-day tickets start at $50 for IBMA members, $60 for the general public. Two-day passes start at $80 for IBMA members and $100 for nonmembers. Children 12 and younger free with paying adults (general admission.)

Wide Open Bluegrass Streetfest: Free shows on stages on Fayetteville Street and around downtown Raleigh.

Friday, Sept. 28

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. World of Bluegrass Expo: Vendors, gear and products for music fans. It’s open to the public Friday and Saturday.

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. New Hall of Fame Members Spotlight: Conversation with Ricky Skaggs and Paul Williams

Our picks

Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons

History and folk tales share the spotlight with songs as this duo explores the history of American roots music through time. Their sets drink deeply from the well of blues, but also include a cappella field hollers, fiddle and banjo tunes, and interpretations of early jazz.

Where to see them: 3 p.m., Hargett Street Stage, Streetfest

Che Apalache

The great thing about bluegrass is how smoothly it can transcend genres. But how far can it go? Can Latin music and bluegrass really mix? Check out Che Apalache, who does just that, and you’ll find out the answer is a spirited, soulful yes. (On a local note, while the band is now based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, founder and fiddle player Joe Troop is from North Carolina.)

Che Apalache performs 'The Wall' at Shout & Shine: A Celebration of Diversity in Bluegrass in Raleigh the night before the kickoff of IBMA in Raleigh, NC Monday night, Sept. 24, 2018.

Where to see them: 7:30, Dance Tent, Streetfest

Amythyst Kiah

Amythyst Kiah’s Southern Gothic songs and powerful voice will have you mesmerized as soon as she steps onstage. She pulls from old-time traditions as well as African-American roots music, including a heavy dose of blues, to create a sound all her own.

Where to see her: 6:30, Capitol Stage, Streetfest

Town Mountain

As Asheville’s Town Mountain has matured as a band (a new album, “New Freedom Blues,” released next month is their sixth), they’ve pushed the boundaries of bluegrass in new directions. “New Freedom Blues” features a drummer (Miles Miller, who has worked with country outsider Sturgill Simpson) and offers pointed commentary on modern American life. They’ve found new freedom, indeed, to continue their legacy of energetic shows and well-crafted songs on their own terms.

Where to see them: 9:45 p.m., Hargett Street Stage, Streetfest

Charlie Poole’s tunes

The late North Carolina bluegrass pioneer Charlie Poole is a presence at most bluegrass festivals, if only because you hear so many acts covering “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” “White House Blues” and his other 1920s-vintage hits. You’ll hear plenty of Poole goodness from Kinney Rorrer, one of the world’s foremost Poole scholars – and also his nephew.

Where you can hear the tunes: Rorrer & the New North Carolina Ramblers play at 1:30 p.m. Friday on the Wide Open Bluegrass Davie Street Stage. There’s also David Davis & Warrior River Boys, whose latest album is “Didn’t He Ramble: The Songs of Charlie Poole.” They play the Capitol Stage at 2:45 p.m. Saturday.

Kruger Brothers

Sometimes you have to leave home to find yourself, and the journey might take you a long way away. That search brought the Kruger Brothers from Germany and Austria to Wilkesboro, hometown of MerleFest. They play a classical-bluegrass fusion that is both Old World and brand new, uniquely theirs.

Where to hear them: 9:45 p.m. Friday, Davie Street stage, during Wide Open Bluegrass.

Main Stage at Red Hat Amphitheater

2 p.m. — Michel Cleveland & Flamekeeper

3 p.m. — Flatt Lonesome

4:15 p.m. — “The Trust”: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Balsam Range, Lonesome River Band, Donna Ulisse, Chris Jones & Night Drivers, Sideline, Love Canon

6:15 p.m. — Tommy Emmanuel with Bryan Sutton, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Jack Pearson

7:45 p.m. — Earls of Leicester

9:30 p.m. — Special collaboration: Alison Brown, Becky Buller, Sierra Hull, Missy Raines and Molly Tuttle, with guest appearances by Gillian Welch and Rhiannon Giddens.

Read Next

Read Next

Street Festival

City Plaza Stage

Noon-12:45 p.m. — Cane Mill Road

1:15-2 p.m. — Fireside Collective

2:30-3:15 p.m. — Jeff Scroggins & Colorado

3:45-4:30 p.m. — Mile Twelve

5-5:45 p.m. — Joe Mullins & Radio Ramblers

6:15-7:15 p.m. — Sister Sadie

7:45-9 p.m. — Special Consensus

9:30-11 p.m. — Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen

Davie Street Stage

12:15 p.m. — Piney Woods Boys

1:30 p.m. — Kinney Rorrer & the New North Carolina Ramblers

2:45 p.m. — Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road

4 p.m. — Hank, Pattie & the Current

5:15 p.m. — Riley Baugus

5:30-7:30 p.m. — ShadowGrass

8 p.m. — Tony Williamson & Friends

9:45 p.m. — Kruger Brothers

Hargett Street Stage

12:30-1:15 p.m. — Kristy Cox

1:45-2:30 p.m. — Bill and the Belles

3-3:45 p.m. — Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons

4 :15-5 p.m. — FY5

5:30-6:15 p.m. — Jim Lauderdale

6:45-7:45 p.m. — Donna Ulisse

8:15-9:15 p.m. — Chris Jones & Night Drivers

9:45-11 p.m. — Town Mountain

Read Next

Capitol Stage

12:15-1 p.m. — Amanda Cook

1:30-2:15 p.m. — Johnny & Jeanette Williams

2:45-3:30 p.m. — Compton & Newberry

4-4:45 p.m. — Tim O’Brien with Jan Fabricius

5:15-6 p.m. — Nick Forster

6:30-7:30 p.m. — Amythyst Kiah

8-9:15 p.m. — Lonesome River Band

9:45-11 p.m. — Balsam Range

Musician Joe Newberry plays bluegrass songs in the newsroom of The News & Observer on Monday, August 20, 2018.

Read Next

Read Next

Dance Tent

Noon-1:30 p.m. — Square dance with Rodney Sutton (calling) and Hoot and Holler

2-2:45 p.m. — Dwight Hawkins & Piedmont Highballers

3:15-4:30 p.m. — Contra dance with Beth Molaro (calling) and Steamshovel

5-5:45 p.m. — Clogging workshop with Rodney Sutton (calling) and Hoot and Holler

6:15-7 p.m. — Clogging performance with Apple Chill Cloggers, Patrick Walsh & Friends

7:30-9 p.m. — Open dance with Che Apalache

9:30-11 p.m. — Open dance with Po’ Ramblin’ Boys

Junior Appalachian Musicians (J.A.M.) at Martin Street

Noon-12:45 p.m. — Eliza Meyer

1-1:45 p.m. — Blackberry Jam

2-2:45 p.m. — Sweet Potato Pie Kids

3-3:45 p.m. — Henderson JAM Kids

4-4:45 p.m. — ShadowGrass

5-5:45 p.m. — Ella & Mary

6-6:45 p.m. — Burnett Sisters

7-7:45 p.m. — Cane Mill Road

Youth Stage at Raleigh Convention Center Plaza

Noon-12:45 p.m. — Baker Family

1-1:45 p.m. — Southern Strings

2-3:45 p.m. — Kids on Bluegrass

4-4:45 p.m. — Arcadian Wild

5-5:45 p.m. — Blue Js

6-6:45 p.m. — Salt and Light

7-7:35 p.m. — University of Louisiana at Lafayette “Vermilion Express”

7:45-8:15 p.m. — EKU Bluegrass Ensemble

8:25-9 p.m. — Clemson Bluegrass Ensemble

9:10-9:45 p.m. — Morehead State University

9:55-10:30 p.m. — Glenville State College

Saturday, Sept. 29

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. World of Bluegrass Expo: This is where you’ll find vendors, gear and products for music fans. It’s open to the public Friday and Saturday.

Whole Hog Barbecue Championship: Festival-goers can sample ‘cue from championship pitmasters from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 2 E. South St., near the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Participants will buy a wristband (instead of buying sandwiches like in previous years) to vote on a people’s choice winner. The pitmasters have won barbecue cook-offs throughout the state. Proceeds will be donated to the InterFaith Food Shuttle and the IBMA Bluegrass Trust Fund, which helps bluegrass professionals in financial crisis. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 the day-of. For info, go to wholehogbarbecue.com. For tickets, go to https://bit.ly/2IkAm4X.

Our picks

Laurie Lewis and Friends

Ask any young woman in bluegrass or folk music today about her influences, and chances are Laurie Lewis will be on their list. She forged her career at a time when women in roots music were generally seen as background pieces, and she did it her own way, which is how she continues to run her career today. Between performing, teaching and producing, Lewis has lots of friends, so expect plenty of good surprises in this set.

Where to see them: 3 p.m., Red Hat Amphitheater, Wide Open Bluegrass

The Gibson Brothers

You may think you know the Gibson Brothers, but just when they’ve built a brother-harmony catalog rich with solid bluegrass and country songs, they’ve thrown a curveball. Their upcoming album “Mockingbird,” produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and coming out in November, is amped-up retro country soul. Whatever genres they dip into for this set, these two-time IBMA Entertainers of the Year (who are nominated for the award again this year) are sure to do it well.

Where to see them: 4 p.m., Red Hat Amphitheater, Wide Open Bluegrass

Tatiana Hargreaves with Hoot and Holler

Expect a lively show with a hometown feel when Durham’s Tatiana Hargreaves teams up with duo Hoot and Holler from Asheville. Hargreaves, who teaches bluegrass fiddle at the University of North Carolina, has worked with Alice Gerrard and toured with Gillian Welch, Bruce Molsky and others with her blend of bluegrass and old-time songs. Hoot and Holler (Mark Kilianski and Amy Alvey) mine the fertile ground of mountain music and bring it to stage with lovely harmonies and instrumental versatility. Together, expect a repertoire that spans the wide range of roots music.

Where to see them: 4 p.m., Capitol Stage, Streetfest

Nefesh Mountain

Doni Zasloff and Eric Lindberg bring a Jewish perspective to bluegrass and folk music, both in their hope-filled original tunes and their innovative arrangements of traditional songs. Lines of Hebrew fit right in alongside Appalachian melodies, and the stories in this music will draw you in and make you want to learn more, which Nefesh Mountain is very happy to help with.

Where to see them: 5:15 p.m., Capitol Stage, Streetfest

Hubby Jenkins

Continuing on a theme of his work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Hubby Jenkins shines light on the full history of roots music, telling stories of African-American musicians whose legacy is often overlooked and putting songs within the context of their time. With just his voice and a guitar (or banjo, or mandolin, or bones), he makes connections with his music that you won’t forget.

Where to see him: 6:30 p.m., Capitol Stage, Streetfest

Love Canon

You may be starting to run out of gas by Saturday night, but here’s a great way to use up the last of it: Love Canon brings twang to pop hits of the ’80s and ’90s. Their bluegrassy versions of “Kyrie Eleison,” “Axel F” and so many others will having you singing, dancing and wishing the party would never end.

Where to see them: 9:30 p.m., Dance Tent, Streetfest

Bobby Hicks

You could say that fiddler Bobby Hicks has had a great journeyman career, except most journeymen don’t wind up in the Hall of Fame. Hicks was inducted last year, primarily for his time with Ricky Skaggs (who joined him in IBMA’s Hall of Fame Thursday night). At the age of 85, Hicks still plays one of the meanest fiddles in all of bluegrass.

Where to see him: 4 p.m. Saturday, Davie Street stage with Mark Kuykendall and Asheville Bluegrass

Main Stage at Red Hat

2 p.m. — Volume Five

3 p.m. — Laurie Lewis & Friends

4:15 p.m. — Gibson Brothers

6:15 p.m. Chatham County Line & Friends: Mandolin Orange, Bobby Britt, Mipso’s Libby Rodenbough, Joe Newberry, Mike Compton

7:45 p.m. — Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder with special guest Patty Loveless

9:30 p.m. — Leftover Salmon’s Wide Open Jam with Sam Bush, John Cowan and other guests

Street Festival

City Plaza Stage

Noon-12:45 p.m. — Danny Paisley & Southern Grass

1:15-2 p.m. — Davidson Brothers

2:30-3:15 p.m. — Kids on Bluegrass

3:45-4:30 p.m. — Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive

5-5:45 p.m. — Kenny & Amanda Smith

6:15-7:15 p.m. — Darin & Brooke Aldridge

7:45-9 p.m. — Lonely Heartstring Band

9:30-11 p.m. — Alison Brown Band

Davie Street Stage

12:15-1 p.m. — Zoe & Cloyd

1:30-2:15 p.m. — Burnett Sisters

2:45-3:30 p.m. — Dewey & Leslie Brown and the Carolina Gentlemen

4-4:45 p.m. — Mark Kuykendall, Bobby Hicks & Asheville Bluegrass

5:15-6 p.m. — Jeff Little Trio

6:30-7:30 p.m. — Strictly Clean and Decent

8-9:15 p.m. — Carolina Blue Band

9:45-11 p.m. — Harris Brothers

Bobby Hicks and several other musicians hold a jam session in the western North Carolina town of Marshall. Hear the Bluegrass legend fiddle his way through "New River Train".

Read Next

Read Next

Hargett Street Stage

12:30-1:15 p.m. — Carolina PineCones

1:45-2:30 p.m. — Diamond Creek

3-3:45 p.m. — Loose Strings Band

4:15-5 p.m. — Tommy Edwards & Bluegrass Experience

5:30-6:15 p.m. — ClayBank

6:45-7:45 p.m. — Sideline

8:15-9:15 p.m. — Wood & Wire

9:45-11 p.m. — Alan Bibey & Grasstowne

Capitol Stage

12:15-1 p.m. — McLain Family Band (50th anniversary)

1:30-2:15 p.m. — Nu-Blu

2:45-3:30 p.m. — David Davis & Warrior River Boys

4-4:45 p.m. — Tatiana Hargreaves with Hoot and Holler

5:15-6 p.m. — Nefesh Mountain

6:30-7:30 p.m. — Hubby Jenkins

8-9:15 p.m. — Front Country

9:45-11 p.m. — Unspoken Tradition

Read Next

Dance Tent

Noon-2 p.m. — Family square dance with Ruth Pershing (calling) and Hogs & Dawgs

2:30-3:45 p.m. — Clogging performance/workshop with Green Grass Cloggers, Little Stony Nighthawks

4:15-5:45 p.m. — Contra dance with Beth Molaro (calling) and Steamshovel

6:15-7 p.m. — Clogging performance with Cane Creek Cloggers, Deep Valley Drifters

7:30-9 p.m. — Contra dance with Jack Mitchell (calling) and Rip the Calico

9:30-11 p.m. — Open dance with Love Canon

Junior Appalachian Musicians (J.A.M.) at Martin Street

11-11:45 a.m. — Ashe JAM Band

Noon-12:45 p.m. — One Fret Over

1-1:45 p.m. — Junior Appalachian Musicians Band

2-2:45 p.m. — Possum on a Whale

3-3:45 p.m. — Karlie Keepfer & Smokey Holler

4-4:45 p.m. — Carl Johnson & JAM Allstars featuring Jonah Graves

5-5:45 p.m. — Carolina PineCones

6-6:45 p.m. — Cane Mill Road

7-7:45 p.m. — ShadowGrass

Youth Stage at Raleigh Convention Center Plaza

Noon-12:45 p.m. — That Dalton Gang

1-1:45 p.m. — Crying Uncle

2-2:45 p.m. — Cane Mill Road

3-3:45 p.m. — Dixie Jubilee

4-4:45 p.m. — ShadowGrass

5-5:35 p.m. — Carolina Bluegrass (UNC-Chapel Hill)

5:45-6:20 p.m. — Pellissippi State Community College

6:30-7:05 p.m. — Colorado College

7:15-7:45 p.m. — Warren Wilson College Bluegrass Band

7:55-8:25 p.m. — Walters State Community College, High Lonesome Senate

8:35-9:10 p.m. — East Tennessee State University Bluegrass Pride Band

9:20-9:55 p.m. — Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music

Read Next

Read Next

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer