IBMA headed to Raleigh

IBMA’s World of Bluegrass will leave Nashville and move to Raleigh, NC, for the 2013 business conference and Fan Fest. An official announcement will be made tomorrow (Wednesday), according to sources familiar with the decision.

A city official in Raleigh confirmed the news, saying she was “extremely excited” that IBMA’s signature event was coming to town because she is a bluegrass fan.

The formal announcement will be made Wednesday by Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, who has scheduled a news conference to reveal a “huge” cultural development for the city.

The length of IBMA’s commitment to Raleigh was unclear, though contracts of this sort are usually for three years. (UPDATE: we can now confirm that WOB will be in Raleigh from 2013-15, according to officials in North Carolina.)

IBMA had no immediate comment. When Bluegrass Today reported recently about the prospect of moving to Raleigh, IBMA President Stan Zdonik said the board planned an announcement “soon” but that he couldn’t comment on Raleigh or any other location because a contract for the move had not been signed.

Raleigh and Louisville, KY, had been in the running to replace Nashville. The association’s contract with Nashville expires after this fall’s WOB conference and Fan Fest. World Of Bluegrass originated in Owensboro, KY, and Louisville had hosted the annual event before it was moved to Nashville in 2003.

Many IBMA members complained about the high cost of hotel rooms in Nashville. A full week at the conference hotel and all World of Bluegrass and Fan Fest events can easily top $1,500, not including the cost of transportation and meals.

It was not immediately clear whether IBMA would move its headquarters from Nashville, but such a move seems logical.

The decision is sure to please IBMA’s newest board member, William Lewis, who is executive director of the Raleigh-based Pine Cone Piedmont Council, a roots music organization. Pine Cone sent an email to some of its supporters Tuesday, suggesting they would find Wednesday’s announcement interesting.

We’ll provide updates as developments warrant.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.

  • Joe P.

    Obviously, IBMA feels pressured to leave Nashville. For me, this is unfortunate. Nashville represents many things to the Country and Bluegrass communities. I think Raleigh is a step backwards and, ultimately, will backfire on increasing attendance and participation in IBMA.

    Nashville is much more centrally located for US residents.

    I’ll attend the Nashville event this year and then I’ll be off to different things. No more IBMA after 2012 for me. Good luck.

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