‘World of Bluegrass’ returns to Raleigh this weekend
World of Bluegrass by the International Bluegrass Music Association is back in Raleigh.
The annual event is one of many that have been canceled or changed over the past year due to the pandemic. This year’s event is in person and open to performers and fans who can prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Participants bring millions of dollars to the city at one of the biggest events of the year. Additionally, Raleigh and the IBMA just extended the deal to keep the event in the Triangle for another three years.
David Brower is the Executive Director of PineCone, the Piedmontese Traditional Music Council which hosts the IBMAs.
Here are some highlights from Brower’s recent interview with WUNC:
This event includes a business conference, three days of shows and the big awards ceremony. How are things going in this still very strange year?
Navigator : “Well, it’s a weird year indeed. But it’s a really fantastic time. It was wonderful to see people streaming all week towards downtown Raleigh. Nowadays one person on three wear a banjo or violin case or have a guitar slung over their shoulders. So it’s a really exciting time to be in downtown Raleigh. And so wonderful to see people coming back in person. “
What made you decide to accept people who have been vaccinated as opposed to those with a recent negative test?
Navigator : “Well, this is a decision that was passed unanimously by the PineCone board and the IBMA board, which approved (the) vaccination policy only. And it’s really in the best interests of security. At the time we made the decision, it felt like this was the way forward to help keep the performing arts sustainable and create a safe environment for people who come in. And again, this is only for paid events. So the awards show – which takes place tonight – (and) the performances at the Red Hat Amphitheater, all require proof of vaccination. The street festival, which takes place on Fridays and Saturdays throughout downtown Raleigh, takes place on public streets and these are unlimited, and therefore, there are no guards there. And we encourage people to do so. vaccinate to come downtown, but it is not mandatory. “
Do you have the story of an artist who made the decision to get vaccinated in order to participate?
Navigator : “When the IBMA Board of Directors made the decision to require proof of vaccination to participate in the World of Bluegrass this year, I had already booked the festival, so I had to go back and rebook the event and go back and have them really personal conversations with about 250 different musicians who are all performing this weekend.
“And there were a number (of people) who were hesitant about the vaccine for one reason or another. There was one in particular, who had kind of been on the fence. I mean, he didn’t. was not vaccine resistant. He was more like, indifferent to vaccines. He had survived a lot being a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and was just tired, having recently returned from overseas service. And he was the only member not vaccinated from the group and his comrades decided to use the festival as leverage to somehow encourage him to overcome that last bump. He made the decision to go ahead and it was really just the desire to come back playing music with friends and realizing that the vaccine was his ticket to playing music again. “
The IBMA World of Bluegrass is in full swing in downtown Raleigh. The awards show will take place Thursday night and Bela Fleck, the Del McCoury Band, Jerry Douglas, the Steep Canyon Rangers and many more will perform live on Friday and Saturday.