Billboard Truck Cruises Raleigh
It cannot be overestimated how big an impact IBMA has had upon Raleigh nor the degree to which Raleigh has affected IBMA and it's World of Bluegrass including the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival. The actual World of Bluegrass runs from Tuesday, September 30 - Saturday, October 4, including the IBMA World of Bluegrass Business Conference from Monday - Thursday, the Awards Show and Special Awards Luncheon on Thursday, and the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival and Street Fair on Friday and Saturday. It's all truly an extravaganza! Here's some evidence about the excitement being generated. Accoring to Cybergrass, a local Pop radio station has changed it's format to 24/7 bluegrass, one of the few all bluegrass FM radio stations in the country. The Mayor of Raleigh, Nancy McFarlane, and her husband are sponsoring the Plaza Stage during Wide Open Bluegrass. At a personal cost of $30,000, this is clearly not a political move, but a sign of love and respect for the music. We've been hearing about IBMA on WRAL-TV during news programs ever since we got here, and back in the Spring when we stayed here for another event. Finally, the New-Observer ran a major piece a day or so ago. Overall, it's simply overwhelming how much Raleigh has embraced Bluegrass and IBMA!
Yesterday, the local merchants on Hillsborough Street sponsored an event they called Live & Local on Hillsborough Street. Located across the street from the main campus of N.C. State University, the Hillsborough Street community is home to lots of restaurants catering to students, small comfortable parks, student housing, etc., a typical and attractive large university setting. While there were four stages within a few blocks of each other, and easy parking, we spent the afternoon at Logan Street stage adjacent to the comfortable and pretty Compegnie Park. Five bands were scheduled from 2:00 until 7:00, and of course we chose to stay where our friends Darin & Brooke Aldridge would be performing as the headliners.
Americana and bluegrass from across a pretty wide spectrum of highly listenable and enjoyable music. Mellow enough to be just right for an early Sunday afternoon.
Old Man Whickutt
This local band with a strong bias toward anything NC State and filled with satirical ire against the effete UNC Tar Heels is highly entertaining and amusing. I've been writing for years that you can expect to see punk and hip-hop popping up in bluegrass bands. Well, here it is in a package you really need to be something of a churl not to appreciate. The song of praise for 1983 and Jimmy V along with a rap about the football rivalry between State and UNC were both funny and well-received. If you can only take your bluegrass in its most traditional forms, Old Man Whickutt won't be your cup of moonshine. But if you have a sense of humor, sit back and join in the fun. Their use of language was subtle and their irony deep.
All the Entertainment Wasn't on Stage
Nixon, Blevins & Gage
This somewhat unusual band is a Doc Watson cover band. Since Doc wasn't much of an originator of new music himself, this means that Nixon, Blevins & Gage does their best to sound like Doc. Since it takes two guitars to sound like Doc at his best, this band, fortunately, features two able guitarists and solid singing. They also offered a fine rendition of Josh White's St. James Infirmary Blues. The band has a pleasant sound and a laid back vibe.
Lynda Dawson & Pattie Hopkins
Lynda & Pattie first came together when Pattie Joined Kickin' Grass Bluegrass Band as a fiddler and harmony singer where Lynda and husband Jamie Dawkins were the driving force. Now, with the band on hiatus, they have joined as a very pleasing duo. Lynda is a song writer of some experience as well as a strong guitarist. Pattie plays fiddle and violin in a rock band, a symphony orchestra, and this duo, as well as teaching numerous students. They present a very pleasing combination of ancient tone old time and Celtic tunes with some hard driving bluegrass, and traditional fiddle tunes. The whole offers a product of tuneful diversity.
Lynda Wittig Dawson
Darin & Brooke Aldridge
Darin & Brooke Aldridge are well known nationally as a bluegrass band with a special affinity for wonderfully rendered gospel music and uplifting secular singing. They took one look at the audience and moved their emphasis more to the up beat secular side, delivering their show with lots of quality despite the fading light and uncertain sound that lost many of the high and low tones Darin delivers on mandolin and guitar. New fiddler, Carly Arrowood, one day past her eighteenth birthday, delivered a solid performance even though relatively new to the Aldridge's music. She'll fit in just fine.
Darin & Brooke Aldridge
Live and Local Bluegrass offered a successful prelude to the massive bluegrass event that follows this week. We spent a relaxed day in a more intimate environment enjoying the bands, the fun, and the setting. IBMA's World of Bluegrass followed by Wide Open Bluegrass kicks off tomorrow. It's an all involving event, so there will be little blogging. I'll try to keep up with little vignettes, if I can figure how to post from my phone, but serious photo blogging and analysis of the event will have to wait a week.