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Gibson Brothers, Tray Wellington Kick-Off PineCone's New Lineup At Duke Energy Center

Tray Wellington is a bluegrass banjo player from Ashe County, North Carolina.
Rob Laughter
/
Courtesy of PineCone
Tray Wellington is a bluegrass banjo player from Ashe County, North Carolina. PineCone's David Brower says he is "mesmerizing to watch."

PineCone, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music based in Raleigh, has been hit hard by the pandemic. The organization sponsors live concerts along with instructional and historical workshops focusing on the roots of music of North Carolina's Piedmont.

It also hosts the International Bluegrass Music Association awards and Wide Open Bluegrass Festival which draws tens of thousands of fans to downtown Raleigh each fall. That was all canceled last year and through the first quarter of this year.

But now, as vaccines become more widely available and government restrictions ease, the organization is announcing a new line-up of in-person events beginning next month at Raleigh's Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. In-person, live events get underway next Friday with The Gibson Brothers and Tray Wellington Band.

David Brower is PineCone's Executive Director after serving as Program Director here at WUNC. Recently, WUNC host Eric Hodge caught up with Brower to preview the upcoming events.


Can you walk us through what the past 14 months have been like for PineCone?

"It's been really difficult in in many ways. First and foremost, it's been a very, very sad time, beyond the personal loss that many in the industry have felt from being isolated and cut off from their main source of income."

"For organizations like PineCone, which is a performing arts organization, the loss of your very central reason for being is really hard to deal with. We exist to bring people together for shared cultural experiences. And we lost that. We've lost that entirely for the past 14 months. And so it has been extremely difficult. I will say this though, that the city of Raleigh has stepped up in an incredible way. Raleigh and Wake County both have been very, very supportive of the performing arts organizations and have kept them alive over this last year. And so, we're vaccinated and ready to go."

What made you feel comfortable enough to move forward with these dates?

"Well, we've got great partners at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. And over the last year, our partners at the theater have been working incredibly hard to make this a safe place to experience the arts in light of the pandemic. So, we're doing a series of concerts in a 2,400 seat auditorium and receding roughly around 400 to 500 people. So we have developed a plan where we can see people safely, socially distanced. The venue also has an incredible HVAC system, and have upgraded the filter air filtration system, so that it's hospital-grade level, and I personally feel very comfortable in the building. And I'm really looking forward to welcoming back music fans."

What about the IBMA this fall?

"We're still working on that. We're meeting on a regular basis, trying to plan for every eventuality. And quite frankly, the governor laid out clear guidelines for how we can get to a full festival (by) Oct. 1 on the streets of downtown Raleigh, and that is: everybody get their shot. Everybody's eligible. There's often no waiting, and if we can get meet the governor's goals of vaccinations in the state of North Carolina, we'll be able to hold the festival."

Who kicks off the series next week?

"In Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, PineCone is really happy to present the Gibson Brothers with Tray Wellington on May 7. The Gibson Brothers are great bluegrass players. They also, interestingly enough, have put out a really great kind of more Americana record pretty recently where they had sort of a minor hit with a killer version of REM’s. “Everybody Hurts.” And opening that show is Tray Wellington, who is a young African American bluegrass banjo player from Ashe County, North Carolina who is mesmerizing to watch."

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