A Wide Open Bluegrass preview

A North State of Mind guide to navigate thelargest urban bluegrass festival in the world.

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Wendell Wiles

If North Carolina had a house special, barbecue would be on the board daily, and if we were spinning a soundtrack in the background, a bluegrass tune would kick things off with a high lonesome sound. Barbecue and bluegrass come together in downtown Raleigh next week as the International Bluegrass Music Association returns to the capital city for their annual conference culminating in Wide Open Bluegrass. This homegrown music week is actually a business conference for industry insiders with almost half of the proceeds from the ticketed events going to the Bluegrass Trust Fund, a nonprofit organization designed to help bluegrass professionals in times of need. A major component of the week is the IBMA awards show — the biggest night in bluegrass. All surrounded by opportunities for the public to take in free and ticketed, bluegrass and newgrass music and more. A North State of Mind guide to navigate the “largest urban bluegrass festival in the world.”wideopenbluegrass.comStreetfestFREE5 music stagesA dance tent offering the opportunity to learn one of our official state dances — cloggingArt, food and shopping line the streetsWhole Hog Barbecue ChampionshipThe N.C. Pork Council will host special Barbecue Experience Dinners on Friday and Saturday nights where attendees will be able to sample barbecue from across the state and witness cooking demonstrations by some of North Carolina’s finest chefs. Tickets online at: wholehogbarbecue.comBluegrass RambleThis is the place to find that new, groundbreaking group to talk about before all of your friends catch on to them — a showcase designed for new bands to try out their new music and it is not to be missed — there are more than 200 performances planned. Ticketed events, information: wideopenbluegrass.comVenues include: Lincoln Theater, The Pour House, Kings, Architect Bar, Vintage Church, and the Raleigh Convention CenterTicketed Main StageRed Hat AmphitheaterDailey & Vincent Greensky BluegrassMarty Stuart & His Fabulous SuperlativesLaurie Lewis and the Right Hands with Special Guest Alice GerrardThe Kruger Brothers with Symphony of the Mountains*and more — this is a hot ticket, information: ibma.org/world-of-bluegrass
Tips for navigating downtown as you take in the event:ParkingDowntown Raleigh parking can be confusing on a slow day—add in a few extra thousand folks and the problem can escalate.Three things to remember:1. There will be street closures.Here are the ones to be ready for:The following streets will be closed from 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 29 until 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 2: Fayetteville Street between Morgan and Lenoir StreetsHargett, Martin, Davie, Lenoir, and South Streets between Salisbury and Wilmington StreetsCabarrus Street between McDowell Street and Salisbury StreetGale Street between Cabarrus Street and the south entrance to the parking deckLenoir Street between Dawson and McDowell StreetsException: Marriott traffic will have access to the 500 block of Fayetteville Street.2. Pay parking is in effect from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Downtown parking pay stations/meters accept coins, credit cards, and debit cards. If you haven’t been downtown to park in a parking deck (well, first off come on downtown more often) be aware of the new $5 at 5 situation that went into effect January 1, 2016. More info and a chart listing specific parking decks and costs can be found at the City of Raleigh parking information page.3. The R Line is a great option for getting around. It is Raleigh’s FREE and green (it’s a 40′ hybrid electric bus) downtown bus service and it can take you around to multiple retail, restaurant, and entertainment venues when your feet can’t take it anymore but you’re not ready to call it a day. There’s even an app associated with the service. Check it out at R Line.HotelsIf you are coming to town and you have yet to book a room there are certainly still places to stay. Check both Visit NC and Visit Raleigh for availability or use your own personal go to accommodation app, find a place to stay, pack your bags, and head this way—you don’t want to miss out on the fun of Wide Open Bluegrass.