Still pickin’ in Raleigh: For the long term?

Jeff Hanna and John McEuen of the famed Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Jeff Hanna and John McEuen of the famed Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Getty Images

Will the Capital City of North Carolina become the capital of the World of Bluegrass? It appears this year the International Bluegrass Music Association and its annual festival had 208,755 satisfied customers, a boost in attendance for the downtown festival of 16 percent from 2014’s record. (Last year, attendance was down due to foul weather, but still the event managed to draw 100,000 people.)

Raleigh officials reckoned the direct visitor spending figure at $11.5 million, also a boost from 2014. And almost half of the attendees this year came from outside Wake County, which means part of that record spending was in the filling of downtown hotels.

This was a good time indeed. Downtown streets were jammed with vendors, and free music was at almost every intersection on Fayetteville Street. The youngest players had their own stage, and much fun was found for free in the hallways of hotels, bluegrass players not being 9 to 5 types, you know.

There has been some nervousness about the future because of North Carolina’s infamous HB2 law opening the way for discrimination against the LGBT community — it’s highly unpopular in all corners of the entertainment world. If that issue can be resolved, Raleigh may be in for many measures more, so to speak, from a lucrative future with the IBMA.