The International Bluegrass Music Association will present its annual World of Bluegrass event from September 30 - October 4, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. All events take place within a six or seven block radius of the Raleigh Convention Center, a modern, comfortable, and accessible facility including the two official convention hotels, the Marriott and the Sheraton, and the Duke Energy Center. The six clubs within easy walking distance are accessible by the new direct connection "Bluegrass Express" which will run between the front of the Convention Center and the clubs. Wide Open Bluegrass, the final two days of World of Bluegrass will be held in the outdoor Red Hat Amphitheater, the Convention Center, and the Clubs. A free street fair on Fayettville Street from the hotels towards the State Capitol offering music, vendors, food, and many enjoyable activities, plus free access to the Exhibit Hall in the Convention Center and all non-ticketed activities associated with World of Bluegrass will run for two days.. It's all pretty complicated and, in order to get the most out of your experience, this blog is designed to make it more accessible, suggest some highlights, look at some alternatives, and help you plan your week. I urge early registration, especially for musicians, to allow taking part in some activities, such as the redesigned Gig Fair. While reserved seats at the Red Hat Amphitheater and prime seats for the Awards show are already sold out, plenty of seats still remain. The two main convention hotels are fully booked, but keep an eye on out for cancellations and on the forum IBMA-L and other sources for tickets or rooms that might become available. Below you will find explanations, links, and maps that should help you make sense of it all. You can use this blog entry and the IBMA web site in conjunction to make it all more manageable. Soon the two smart phone apps will be updated to make navigating it all and scheduling yourself even more easy. You can bookmark the schedule on your smart phone by clicking the address: http://worldofbluegrass2014.sched.org/mobile
The area around the Raleigh Convention Center, the two major hotels, and other locations associated with World of Bluegrass is relatively small and easily negotiated. Here's a map with a link to a full map that can be downloaded and printed. Brief study will help you get oriented. Note the many convenient parking garages. Last year's price for a full day in garages around the Convention Center of $7.00 has been retained.
Musicians should remember that performing in showcases is not an example of Pay for Play. Rather, each showcase participation represents an opportunity for bands to be seen by talent buyers in a position to make hiring decisions and many fans from around the country and the world who are often able and willing to make requests of promoters and talent buying committees who make crucial hiring decisions. However, merely being seen at the World of Bluegrass is not sufficient. The onus for increasing the number of gigs you work depends on careful and focused follow up and persistent effort. There are almost uncountable opportunities to network with those in the position to make decisions about hiring and promoting your efforts. Follow up with all contacts by email, phone call, and mail (yes, mail still exists) to assure that the face and personality you've projected at World of Bluegrass becomes firmly fixed in those people's memory and musical imagination.
Fans will find the business conference to be not only interesting and a feast for meeting and getting to know performers and the other people making up the components of the bluegrass industry, but a wonderful place to become more knowledgeable about the finer points of the practice and larger world of bluegrass music and business.
The Schedule: The World of Bluegrass is a large convention with a variety of activities and emphases. In the past, attendees were given a printed schedule and had to work through it carefully to make decisions about how best to use their time. This year the IBMA staff has done much of the work by providing a well structured and cross referenced schedule which can be manipulated and searched on line or on your smart phone in either iOS or Android formats. For instance, if you want to know where a band is appearing you can go to the "bands" block and click on a band. Let's use The Grass Cats as an example. The Grass Cats will appear in Convention Center on Tuesday at 7:00 on the Workshop Stage. They also will appear on Wednesday at the Longview Center at 10:00 and Tir Na-Nog at 1:00 AM. Every band I checked has at least three showcases, with one in the Convention Center. Let's say you went to the Longview Center last year and found it a very pleasant place to listen to music. Click on Venues and the Vintage Church at Longview Center to learn that seven bands will be there on each night from 7:00 PM until 1:30 AM. It looks to me as if every band with an official showcase can be seen at either the Ballroom Stage or the Workshop Stage in the Convention Center on Tuesday or Wednesday and on the Ramble Stages at other times if you prefer going out to the Ramble Venues for a legal libation with your music. The IBMA staff has clearly listened to the concerns of attendees and worked hard to give people what they want.
The schedule comes in four formats (screen shots below not live):
Hover over the word "Schedule" on your device and then click on your choice of schedule for your particular need. By exploring the schedule in this way, you should be able to get a good handle on all that's happening before constructing a schedule on your phone or calendar.
Transportation to the Remote Venues: A dedicated bus called the Bluegrass Express will run from 4:30 PM until 2:45 AM each night from in front of the Convention Center to the Bluegrass Ramble locations. You don't have to walk to be able to Ramble.
Talent Buyer Focus: Much has been accomplished to create a specific focus on placing talent buyers in contact with performers, agents, and managers to increase opportunities assuring that networking between these constituencies will result in more gigs being actively pursued as a result. To explore this focus further, check here. It's extremely important for all parties to follow up on initial or ongoing connections made at these events with a mail appeal, a press kit, and one or more phone calls. Make sure the people in a position to buy your talent have a solid, accurate impression of you and your music.
Located in the magnificent Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at the Duke Energy Center just a block or so from the Convention Center and the two main convention hotels (The Marriott and the Sheraton) this 2323 seat auditorium is Raleigh's premier performing venue, with unobstructed seating and fine acoustics. It's just the place for IBMA to present its most watched and anticipated event, the annual Awards Show. Performance awards are presented in seventeen categories. These awards are selected in a three-stage nomination and voting process participated in by the professional members of IBMA. Induction into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame takes place during the Awards Show. This year the original Seldom Scene and bluegrass author Neil Rosenberg will be inducted. With nominees selected by committees of the membership, another six awards in industry categories are awarded at the Annual Awards Luncheon . In addition several Distinguished Achievement Awards are given. Performances by many of the nominees are featured during the Awards Show and sufficient fodder for discussion and argument will persist until the next year's nomination process begins.
On the Red Carpet
Della Mae at the Red Hat Amphitheater
IBMA's World of Bluegrass is the premier event of the bluegrass year. Last year's move from Nashville to Raleigh was a resounding success. In terms of attendance, regional economic impact, and resulting increases in new and returning membership, it set records. As with any first year effort or major change, there were glitches and problems. Attendees were polled and listened to by both the Board and IBMA staff. The result is that many of the issues were addressed and solutions to the problems found, many suggested by those who were there. Opportunities for further development and adaptation will surely arise this year, but attendees can be assured that both IBMA and the Raleigh Convention Bureau are intent on your having a good time and learning a lot. Join IBMA Now to take advantage of discount still available to members and then Buy Tickets for the entire World of Bluegrass or pick from those components meeting your needs. See you there!