Regular attendees at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass convention will find a number of changes in store this year. Moving to a new facility in a new city means getting used to a new layout, new hotels and a new footprint in downtown Raleigh.
To help familiarize members with the changes, IBMA and the City of Raleigh are hosting a preview this Saturday (4/13) in conjunction with their Spring board meetings. Guided tours of the various facilities will be offered at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., with everyone invited to the Red Hat Amphitheater for a pig and picking party at 6:00. The Red Hat will be site of the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival during IBMA week, formerly known as Fan Fest.
Perhaps the most significant changes for 2013 involve the way invited showcase acts and the popular late night showcases will be handled. Taking a page from the annual Folk Alliance convention, the late night events are being moved from the convention center into neighboring downtown venues, with six clubs and concert halls enlisted as auxiliary sites. All are within a short walk from the anchor hotels, and can be reached quickly by hopping on downtown Raleigh’s free R-Line shuttle bus.
With WOB shortened by a day this year, occasions to present invited showcase acts in a formal, central presentation are diminished. There will be official showcases on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in the convention center ballroom from 6:00-10:00 p.m., and all of Wednesday will be given over to a sort of expanded gig fair. A showcase brunch will be held in the ballroom from noon to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, followed by additional showcases running from 3:00-6:00. IBMA is promoting this day to talent buyers across the US, inviting them to attend this all-day opportunity for seeing top bluegrass artists in a single location. They are reaching well beyond the normal bluegrass channels, hoping to attract buyers and event producers who don’t typically follow the bluegrass world.
To help make up for the fewer main stage showcases, all invited showcase acts will be offered at least two chances to perform during the week’s events. Some will be on the main stage, others at late night venues, and still more during the street fair the city will be operating in conjunction with the weekend Wide Open Bluegrass Festival.
Showcase producer Ben Surratt and co-producer Cindy Baucom are hard at work now ensuring that sufficient and effective opportunities exist for the invited artists, who should be announced within the next few weeks.
As in years past, late night events, running from 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. each night, will be sponsored by various bluegrass entities. Each sponsor will be entitled to choose the acts to present at their showcases, with sound and emcees provided by IBMA. One very big change this year is that these performers will be entitled to a 70% split of the door receipts, prorated among the acts on the bill that evening. Artists can also set up their merch tables at the venues.
There will be no additional charge for World of Bluegrass registrants to attend these shows, and local residents are also invited to come check them out as well. There will be a $10 entrance fee at each venue for non-registrants. A showcase pass for the full week is also being offered ($100 IBMA members, $150 non-members), which will grant entry to all the off-site music. Reserved areas for those with IBMA credentials will be set aside.
The six late night venues, with distance from the convention center, are:
- Lincoln Theatre (2 blocks) – small concert room, can accommodate 600-900 people, full bar
- The Architect Bar & Social Club (3 blocks) – restored historic building, seating 200-300 depending on set up
- Kings Barcade (3 blocks) – music club with a capacity of 150 people seated, 260 standing, restaurant downstairs
- Tir Na Nog (6 blocks) – an Irish pub and restaurant which has been offering bluegrass entertainment since 1997 in Raleigh, can seat 226
- Pour House Music Hall (6 blocks) – music bar with both upstairs and downstairs seating/standing room, capacity 360
- Long View Center (7 blocks) – reception room which seats 450
Tir Na Nog and Pour House are located next to each other on Blount Street, each with a very different character. Pour House has a stripped-down, exposed brick interior with a wide array of beers available, while the Irish pub is a sit down restaurant with a bar. Longview Center, located just across a park square is within the premises of the Unity Church of the Triangle, and will be suitable for more sedate programs than the clubs.
The Architect is just around the corner from those three, and focuses on craft beers and specialty cocktails. Kings is just off the main drag (Fayetteville Street) and functions as a private club with alcohol served. Closest to the hotels and convention center is the Lincoln, which is visible from Fayetteville.
As in years past, artists will need to contact the various showcase sponsors to gain a spot at these events.
Raleigh has a lively night life, so you won’t be wandering the streets alone when venturing out to these shows. The downtown area feels safe, and each venue is mere steps from an R-Line bus stop if walking is a issue.
During the Wide Open Bluegrass festival on Friday and Saturday, multiple music stages will be set up on Fayetteville and adjoining streets, managed by the City of Raleigh during their street fair. The folks at Pinecone Council of Traditional Music will be the liaison with IBMA for booking those stages.
Things will be different where showcases are concerned this year, but artists willing to “work the system” should have many opportunities to be seen and heard.
To see all our reports on World of Bluegrass 2013, click this link.
Next: the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival