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Arts & Culture

World Of Bluegrass: Awards And Weekend Lineup

IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh

The World of Bluegrass festival is in its last few days in Raleigh. Music journalist Craig Havighurst is back one last time to talk about the event.  He's a triangle native who now hosts a music roots show from Nashville.  He's also a board member of the International Bluegrass Music Association, the group that puts on the festival every year.

ERIC HODGE: Welcome back, Craig.

CRAIG HAVIGHURST: Thanks, Eric. Good morning.

ERIC HODGE: Good morning. So, the big event last night was the awards ceremony. Who were the big winners?

HAVIGHURST: For the second year in a row, a duo called the Gibson Brothers won Entertainer of the Year. They're out of New York state - Eric and Lee Gibson - they've been active since the mid-90s and put out a dozen albums. They were Emerging Artist back in 1998, but they're having a wonderful run now, and I think it's kind of the slow and steady approach to their career. They've really kind of come out on top now.

Album of the Year came from a North Carolina band called Balsam Range. They're out of western North Carolina. Their album is called "Papertown."

But maybe the biggest story or headline of the night - the one that everyone was buzzing about - was a moment with the great guitarist and former singer Tony Rice. He was being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He's had huge vocal troubles for almost 20 years, and when he speaks he has a kind of gravely rasp. He had to quit singing and quit making albums. And last night while accepting, out of nowhere, he sort of described to the audience that he had begun to essentially will himself to find his old voice again, and he sort of did so in front of everybody almost as a kind of cosmic moment of demonstration.  He had everybody in the hall with their jaws on the floor, tears in their eyes, and left with the prospect that maybe we might get to hear Tony Rice sing again. It was quite something. You don't see surprises in award shows very often, but there was one last night.

HODGE: Sounds pretty amazing. Now, the festival isn't over yet.  Who are you excited about seeing tonight and tomorrow?

HAVIGHURST: At the Red Hat Amphitheater tonight, we have artists as diverse as Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, a very traditional band with wonderful stage-wear. We talked about him the other day... the Steeldrivers out of Nashville, a real sort of almost blue-eyed soul influenced bluegrass band.

And then a collaboration of a one-time-only band of Del McCoury, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas and Mark Schatz. People are excited to see that.

HODGE: Sounds like some serious pickers there, Craig. I wonder if you can kind of sum up for us how Raleigh has handled the World of Bluegrass and maybe how many people showed up compared to Nashville.

HAVIGHURST: As far as how many people showed up, we haven't had the big party yet in the streets, which is something that Nashville has never quite done that way, so it's really apples to oranges in terms of who's attended. I know that everybody I've talked to has been really complimentary about Raleigh's infrastructure. The Convention Center has a really terrific atmosphere. The halls have been full. The hotels have been full of people playing music up in the hotel suites. Everybody's been quite excited. I think it's gone very well so far, and now we're going to have this two-day festival in the streets, which is quite unprecedented for IBMA.

HODGE: And it'll all be back next year and the following year.

HAVIGHURST: That's right. It's definitely coming back for two years, at least.

HODGE: Craig Havighurst is a music journalist who's been giving us an inside look into the World of Bluegrass this week.  Craig, thanks again for being with us.

HAVIGHURST: It's been a pleasure and fun to be here.

You can hear another live broadcast from the World of Bluegrass Friday at noon on The State of Things.

This interview ends with the song "Empire" from Della Mae, the group that won the IBMA award Thursday night for Emerging Artist of the Year.

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