The concerts, music festivals and new albums you’ve got to check out this fall

Carrie Underwood, seen in Fresno, Calif., May 2019, brings her “Cry Pretty Tour 360” tour to Raleigh’s PNC Arena Sept. 30.
Carrie Underwood, seen in Fresno, Calif., May 2019, brings her “Cry Pretty Tour 360” tour to Raleigh’s PNC Arena Sept. 30. ezamora@fresnobee.com

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Fall 2019 Arts Guide

The Triangle guide to music, art, theater, dance, festivals and books in Fall 2019.

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The summer concert season may wind down elsewhere in the country when the calendar turns to September.

But here, the best is yet to come.

We’ve already had high-profile shows through the summer — Paul McCartney, Hootie and the Blowfish, nearly every major country act around.

September, though, is music festival season in the Triangle. The Hopscotch Music Festival kicks off the month, taking over City Plaza, Red Hat Amphitheater and smaller venues throughout the city. Celebrating its 10th year, Hopscotch has found its groove, drawing an eclectic mix of performers across the genres — from Sleater-Kinney to James Blake to a highly anticipated reunion of Triangle-based Little Brother.

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September doesn’t let up as the International Bluegrass Music Association brings its World of Bluegrass festival and annual conference to Raleigh for the seventh year. Like Hopscotch, the Bluegrass Festival has easily slipped into our annual routines, the festival we mark on our calendars months in advance. (This one is easy, folks. It’s always the last week of September.)

As it draws thousands of people to the region and proves to bring a significant economic boost to the city, World of Bluegrass is making finger-picking music even more accessible this year, throwing open the normally ticketed shows to Red Hat Amphitheater to the masses. All headlining acts at the venue are free, allowing people to come and go as they please. Some ticketed seats remain for those who want to reserve their spots.

Last year, Art of Cool in Durham moved its long-running multi-day event from the spring to the fall and hasn’t missed a beat. This year’s lineup includes Jill Scott, Run-DMC, Whodini, the super-buzzy Ari Lennox (on J. Cole’s Dreamville label) and an appearance by local fave, 9th Wonder.

Whew. Those are just the festivals.

Carrie Underwood, Ariana Grande, Post Malone, Bon Iver and The Black Keys head to PNC Arena.

The Avett Brothers usher in the season with a new album in October, an art exhibit by Scott Avett at the N.C. Museum of Art and their annual New Year’s Eve bash, this time in Greensboro.

And Rapsody, whose most recent album, “Laila’s Wisdom,” earned two Grammy nominations, including Best Rap Album, is ready for a followup. “Eve” is slated to come out Aug. 23, an album the North Carolina rapper tells Essence is an “ode to the women in my life who have made me who I am.” Look for songs named for North Carolina’s Nina Simone, Oprah Winfrey and Ibtihaj Muhammad (the Duke alum who became the first Muslim woman to wear a hijab in the Olympics).

This year, the state is celebrating North Carolina’s music and its traditions with the Come Hear NC initiative. That means even more ways to toast the musicians who have made North Carolina home.

Here’s what you need to know.

Chatham County Line
Chatham County Line is one of the headline acts at Be Loud! ‘19, a two-night benefit concert in Carrboro. Chatham County Line

Be Loud! ‘19

The details: Aug. 23-24, Cat’s Cradle, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro. $40 for a weekend pass, $25 for Friday night only and $25 for Saturday night. 919-967-9053, beloudfestival.com or catscradle.com

This annual benefit concert has become known for drawing local, regional and national talent, and this sixth annual affair is no different. This year’s lineup features Chatham County Line, The Old Ceremony, The Tan & Sober Gentlemen and Alive at 27 on Aug. 23. The following day, Aug. 24, features Preeesh!, Greg Humphreys Electric Trio, PopUp Chorus and Pajama Day. (Preesh! is described as a “Chapel Hill supergroup” who will perform songs from Joe Jackson’s first two albums, “Look Sharp!” and “I’m the Man.”) All proceeds go to the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation, which pays tribute to Chapel Hill teen Sophie Steiner, who died of cancer in 2013. The foundation has raised more than $1.2 million since 2014 for adolescent and young adult cancer support program at UNC.

Hopscotch Little Brother.jpg
Little Brother the NC hip-hop group with rappers Big Pooh, left, and Phonte. The group formed as a trio with 9th Wonder on production in 2001. They will perform at Hopscotch Music Festival in 2019, their first Raleigh show since 2010. Jati Lindsay

Hopscotch Music Festival

The details: Sept. 5-7, downtown Raleigh. Single show tickets for main stage shows ($37.50 to $47.50); single-day passes ($89 to $99) and multi-day wristband tickets available. Plus, free day parties in smaller night spots. hopscotchmusicfest.com

Look for 130 bands over three days across 12-plus venues. Headliners on Sept. 5 at City Plaza are Sleater-Kinney, Kurt Vile & The Violators, Snail Mail and The Nude Party. The headliners on Sept. 6 at Red Hat Amphitheater are James Blake, Dirty Projectors and Faye Webster and at City Plaza, Jenny Lewis and Tyler Ramsey. The festival wraps up Sept. 7 with Chvrches, Phantogram and !!! (CHK CHK CHK) at Red Hat with Little Brother, Raphael Saadiq and Lute at City Plaza.

Main Blugrass Red Hat
Trey Hensley, left, and Rob Ickes, right, perform with Tommy Emmanuel at the Red Hat Amphitheater during Raleigh’s World of Bluegrass in 2018. This year, the Red Hat Amphitheater shows will be free with select tickets available for purchase. Kevin Keister kkeister@newsobserver.com

World of Bluegrass

The details: Sept. 24-28 in downtown Raleigh, the Raleigh Convention Center, Red Hat Amphitheater, the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and other venues around downtown. Includes the IBMA Business Conference; the Bluegrass Ramble music showcase; the International Bluegrass Music Awards; and Wide Open Bluegrass. Many events are free, though some are ticketed. worldofbluegrass.org

IBMA has announced Red Hat stage performers, leaving open the possibility of some surprise acts still to come. The Sept. 27 performers are: Sister Sadie, Balsam Range, Molly Tuttle, I’m With Her and new bluegrass supergroup, The Ringers, featuring Jerry Douglas, Ronnie McCoury, Todd Phillips, Christian Sedelmyer and Dan Tyminski. On Sept. 28, there will be a celebration of Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard; Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; and Del McCoury Band with Sam Bush. Other acts for the free street festival have yet to be announced.

Jill Scott Essence Fest 2018
Jill Scott, seen at the 2018 Essence Festival, is one of the headline acts at the 2019 Art of Cool concert in Durham. Amy Harris Invision/AP

Art of Cool

The details: Sept. 27-29, Six Durham venues (Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the Durham Armory, Motorco Music Hall, Carolina Theatre, The Pinhook and The Masonic Lodge.) One-day passes available along with VIP packages. aocfestival.com

There will be more than 20 acts from R&B, soul, hip-hop, jazz and alternative music. Plus, former UNC and NBA player Rasheed Wallace (also known as current Durham Jordan High School coach) is the guest host. Friday performances include Jill Scott, Ari Lennox, 9th Wonder and Yolanda Rabun. Saturday performances include Run-DMC, Whodini, Big Daddy Kane & The Symphony and Talib Kweli.

Kacey Musgraves performs on NBC’s “Today” July 19, 2019. She will bring her show to Booth Amphtheatre Sept. 14. Charles Sykes Invision/AP

Kacey Musgraves

The details: Sept. 14, 8 p.m. Booth Amphitheatre, 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary. boothamphitheatre.com

Musgraves swooped into the Grammys this year and took home four big awards, including Album of the Year and Best Country Album. With her dreamy vocals and propensity to give country music her own twist, those awards won’t be the last.

Willie Nelson Lukas Nelson 2019
Willie Nelson, left, and Lukas Nelson will perform at the Outlaw Music Festival Sept. 15, at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh. Lukas Nelson will bring his band, Promise of the Real. Bonnie Raitt and Alison Krauss also are on the lineup. Richard Shotwell Invision/AP

Outlaw Music Festival with Willie Nelson

The details: Sept. 15, 4 p.m. Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, Raleigh.

It won’t seem like summer until Willie rolls through town as he seems to do most years. And he’s got quite a lineup with him — acts who could easily headline their own tours — Bonnie Raitt, Alison Krauss and son Lukas Nelson with his band Promise of the Real. You’ve probably heard Raitt and Krauss’ hits, but Lukas Nelson got his own professional boost this year thanks to his work on the film, “A Star is Born.” He was a songwriter, music producer, consultant and performer, making it clear that he might headline his own Outlaw Music Festival in the future.

Groove in the Garden

The details: Sept. 21, 2 to 8 p.m. Stephenson Amphitheatre at Raleigh Little Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 day-of. Free for kids 5 and younger. raleighlittletheatre.org

The fifth annual Groove in the Garden features two stages of music with a focus on homegrown acts. This year’s headline acts on the main stage include Arson Daily, Urban Soil, Hot at Nights 18-piece orchestra, Kooley High and Sarah Shook & The Disarmers. With food, art vendors and a kids zone, it’s the perfect outdoor music festival where you can say good-bye to summer.

Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi.jpg
Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi recorded “There is No Other” together. They’ll perform at the North Carolina Museum of Art Sept. 25. Karen Cox

Rhiannon Giddens

The details: Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m. North Carolina Museum of Art, 2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh. ncartmuseum.org

We’d hate to call North Carolina’s Rhiannon Giddens “big time,” in the sense that she’s too cool to come home. Actually, that’s not the case at all. She regularly returns to North Carolina — the Triangle, Greensboro, Wilmington, all over — to perform. She produces an opera podcast. She is a prolific song writer, having recorded “There is No Other,” with Italian musician Francesco Turrisi, and “Songs of Our Native Daughters,” which Rolling Stone describes as a “collection of songs about slavery and racism recorded with Amythyst Kiah, Allison Russell and Leyla McCalla.” She’ll bring Turrisi to Raleigh. Did we mention she also wrote and performed music for the Nashville Ballet? Somewhere between all of that, she also has written an opera (the world premiere will be in Charleston, S.C., next year). So yes, the truth is the 2017 MacArthur Fellow is Big Time, and we’re just happy to see her when she graces us with her many talents.

Carrie Underwood

The details: Sept. 30, 7 p.m. PNC Arena, 1400 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh. pncarena.com

Carrie Underwood, one of country’s most popular and likeable musical acts, kicked off her “Cry Pretty Tour 360” in Greensboro and is making her way back to North Carolina. The show is a major production with a round stage in the middle of the arena floor, allowing her to belt out her hits to all parts of the arena. Listen up for her greatest hits, like “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “Before He Cheats” and “Cry Pretty,” along with a tribute medley with her opening acts, Maddie & Tae and Runaway Jane.

Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande brings her Sweetener tour to Raleigh’s PNC Arena Nov. 22. Social House is the opening act. Chris Pizzello Invision

Ariana Grande

The details: Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m. PNC Arena, Raleigh. pncarena.com

The reigning princess of pop has had a pretty eventful two years, and we’re not even talking about her personal life. Grammy nominations, No. 1 hits and being named Billboard’s “Woman of the Year.” So it was a bummer when her performance at Coachella forced her to cancel her visit to PNC’s Arena. But she didn’t say “thank u, next” for long. (Sorry, had to go there.) She added new dates to the Sweetener tour and is coming to Raleigh after all. Social House is the opening act.

More major acts

PNC Arena is getting a slew of big-name shows. They include Backstreet Boys (Aug. 20); Chris Brown (Sept. 6); Post Malone (Oct. 17); Bon Iver and Feist (Oct. 19); MercyMe (Oct. 20); Slayer with Primus and Ministry (Nov. 3); The Black Keys (Nov. 8); and The 1975 (Nov. 19). Find details at pncarena.com.

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Features Editor Jessica Banov oversees coverage of entertainment, the arts, food and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun.