IBMA Bluegrass Live! festivities move indoors for the second time in 10 years in anticipation of Hurricane Ian. Here’s what to expect.
In 2015, bands of rain from Hurricane Joachin came down on Raleigh, soaking artists, vendors and attendees of bluegrass music’s biggest week—leaving organizers scrambling to move the International Bluegrass Music Association’s IBMA Bluegrass Live! festivities indoors to the relative comfort of the city’s convention center.
Fast-forward seven years and IBMA’s organizers announced Sept. 27 that all outdoor festivities associated with this weekend’s IBMA Bluegrass Live! will move indoors, due to expected rain and wind from Hurricane Ian as it approaches the western shores of Florida.
“The music will go on,” said IBMA Executive Director Pat Morris at the IBMA welcome reception celebrating the festival’s 10th year in the Cap City. “We have a fantastic week lined up.”
This year, however, will be different than 2015, when the ticketed festival and the free street events were all suddenly forced into the confines of the convention center. What won’t change is several days of bluegrass tunes ringing throughout the facility—some planned in ballrooms and convention rooms, others spontaneously erupting into jam sessions filling up the facility’s not-so-hidden corners and even in hallways and on staircases.
One major difference: The ticketed Main Stage performances—originally planned for Red Hat Amphitheater adjacent to the convention center—will take the stage in the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Reserved seating bought in advance will be honored, but, unfortunately, fans hoping for a free general admission ticket to see headliners such as the infamous Stringdusters, Jerry Douglas and Molly Tuttle may be out of luck. Organizers are still working out details to try to make some free seating available.
On a positive note, there’s still a lot of free entertainment to take in. All previously scheduled performances at the five free Street Stages are moving into the Raleigh Convention Center, along with all 115 vendors—from the Art Market to Shop Local to Black Friday Market. Also on tap indoors will be the beer garden, PNC Porch, jam “tents” and other activities.
Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said the resiliency of the organizers and the City of Raleigh is similar to that often sung about in bluegrass music, as well as the genre itself, which celebrated its 75th anniversary during the height of the pandemic.
“Whether you have been here before or it’s your first time, you are in for great entertainment,” she told the crowd in the RCC ballroom. “We did this in 2015 and it turned out great, and it’s going to be great again.”
Baldwin added she hopes IBMA will return to Raleigh for another 10 years. “The best part of IBMA is you get to be part of this unique experience and community,” she said. “It’s about bringing people together.” Stay dry—and keep dancin’. Sept. 30–Oct. 1, worldofbluegrass.org/festival