Raleigh has proven itself to be ready, willing, and able to provide a home for IBMA's World of Bluegrass by assisting the organization, it's members, those who already participate in this wonderfully varied music, and the potential audience for it to imagine itself in a new, varied, and creative setting which truly invites all to participate in acts of discovery. By taking the annual meeting of an industry trade association which, at its core, functions as a coordinating organization for the business of making bluegrass music and turning it into a celebration that opens its arms to all who want to become a part of this musical corner of the world, Raleigh has at once opened new paths and strengthened old ones. Despite the divisive, and for many quite confusing, issues surrounding gender politics, Raleigh as a city, exemplified by its mayor Jane McFarland, and its very active tourism and convention bureau have helped revive and strengthen the organization. The World of Bluegrass and Wide Open Bluegrass will take place in Raleigh from September 27 - October 1, 2016. This blog entry is designed to help attendees to make the most out of their visit, no matter what musical or professional goals they wish to accomplish during the week.
Apps: IBMA and Pine Cone have each produced apps. At this writing, much of the World of Bluegrass App is live and available online, although the smart phone download still has not been released. You can access it on your computer now, but an app will soon be available. (Keep watching here for its release) However, you can start studying the schedule and planning on sessions and events you wish to attend. I can't tell if the feature for putting events on your personal calendar has gone live yet, but, when it does, it's a valuable tool for using your time most effectively. Here's a link to the IBMA World of Bluegrass 2016 app. As it becomes more functional, come back and visit. As soon as you can put it on your phone, you can start building a useful personal schedule. The schedule is complex. Time spent becoming familiar with it is time well spent. Similarly, Raleigh, its Local Organizing Committee, and PineCone, a regional arts organization, have produced an app to show you all the options available during Wide Open Bluegrass. I'm told this, too, will soon be rolled out and available to all those wishing to use it. There is free Wi-Fi in the Raleigh Convention Center and along Fayetteville Street.
Maps: The downtown region where all the activities of World of Bluegrass take place encompasses only a few blocks with two hotels (The Marriot and the Sheraton) at their center, The Raleigh Convention Center lies directly behind the s and the Red Hat Amphitheater behind the RCC. The Duke Energy Center, where the Awards Show takes place stands across a small park. Fayettville Street, extending from the Duke Energy Center five blocks to the State Capital provides a home for Friday and Saturday's Street Fair. An area around Moore Park, just a few blocks away is the home to most of the venues for the Bluegrass Ramble, where showcase bands (and others) perform during the week.
Map of The Convention Center Region:
Walking: If you like to walk, you can use the gps on your phone to take you to any venue on schedule in just a few minutes. Google Maps offers your best choices for navigating from place to place, whether it's over short or longer distances. It offers driving, biking, walking & public transportation alternatives.
by foot on Google Maps
Don't Miss Events During the Business Conference:
Conference seminars and meetings: During the Business Conference, which runs from Tuesday through Thursday, numerous seminars focused on specific learning and events centered in the RCC designed to encourage making and deepening professional relationships take place. Here's a schedule of the events of the business conference. Registration for the Business Conference includes all associated meals and admission to all showcases on the Bluegrass Ramble.
Gig Fair for Artists - The Gig Fair, this year moved to Tuesday afternoon and requiring online pre- registration, offers artists the chance to make direct contact with a large number of festivals, concert venues, and other events. This event, which can only be described as "bluegrass speed-dating" gives bands an opportunity to establish face-to-face contacts with those who can and will be hiring them. Since each round is limited to ten minutes, bands must come prepared with a CD, a short, direct, well-designed folder describing themselves, and some good questions for the interviewer. They also need to follow up by email, letter, and phone calls with each contact they make at the Gig Fair. Conscientious bands can schedule later meetings, make festivals aware of showcases where they'll be performing, and prime their potential employers. Without good follow-up, their efforts may be wasted. You can sign up and learn more here.
Networking in the Bluegrass Expo: The IBMA Exhibit Hall is open during the day from Wednesday through Saturday, which includes free admission to the public during Wide Open Bluegrass. Dozens of exhibitors including instrument makers, equipment manufacturers, book publishers, bluegrass related organizations, festivals, and the thirty showcase bands selected for the Convention have booths. It's also a center of social interaction during which you can chat with people in the aisles or staffing the exhibits, again connecting a face with a name. (That's why the convention badge hung around your neck is so important.)
Private Showcases are events sponsored by recording companies, certain large festivals, and others which feature bands often part of the company's stable of artists or being previewed for possible hiring at next year's festival. Some of these events are publicly scheduled, while others are held in a more private (and exclusive) setting. Keep your program schedule and your ears open for these events, scheduled throughout the entire World of Bluegrass week.
I'll be posting brief live-blogs from the various venues here as well as to my Facebook page and Instagram, if I can keep it up, during the entire week, beginning with the pre-festival activities taking place around town. Tune in to follow the action. I'll also schedule blog entries during the following weeks to wrap up and review each component of the week.
IBMA's World of Bluegrass and Wide Open Bluegrass is an all-absorbing effort, filled with hard work, great fun, and any number of surprises. Get involved. join the organization, learn more about bluegrass, and plan to be there. Please stop me to say "Hello" if you catch me.