The IBMA Bluegrass Live street festival end-caps the week-long music conference from the Nashville-based International Bluegrass Music Association, best known as IBMA.
The street portion of the festival often draws up to 200,000 over the two-day Friday, and Saturday weekend and occupies the majority of Fayetteville Street in downtown featuring, as of 2023, five stages of free music and an additional ticketed performance at Red Hat Amphitheatre.
Highlights Friday’s lineup included North Carolina’s Jim Lauderdale backed by the Po’ Ramblin Boys. South Korea’s Country Gongbang gave a rousing traditional performance and received a warm welcome from attendees. Acclaimed mandolin player AJ Lee and her band Blue Summit also gave a lively show later that evening.
A big highlight of Saturday’s performances came in the form of a square dance as called by Nancy Mamlin with the Earl White String Band. A pair of North Carolina-based acts, The Tan and Sober Gentlemen and Into the Fog closed out the Capital Stage on Saturday evening to a standing-room-only crowd.
Since 2012 the festival has weathered a Covid shutdown, two major hurricanes, and a revolving door of IBMA executive directors.
Earlier this week, as I began to piece this story together, the IBMA and the City of Raleigh announced that 2024 will be the final year for the music conference. However, the City and local non-profit group Pinecone has vowed to continue the street festival adding folk and gospel acts to the mix of string bands.
|Story and photos by Dave Rogers|