KAFM TUNED IN: Spreading GJ’s love for bluegrass at Wide Open Bluegrass Fest | PostIndependent.com

KAFM TUNED IN: Spreading GJ’s love for bluegrass at Wide Open Bluegrass Fest


Ray Bonneville — Oct. 6, 7 p.m., KAFM Radio Room

Darin Caine, Hellhound Express — Oct. 22, 7 p.m., KAFM Radio Room

Dave Mason — Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m., Moss Performing Arts Center @ CMU

Today’s column comes from Raleigh, N.C., where the International Bluegrass Association (IBMA) and Wide Open Bluegrass (WOB) Festival has just ended. The IBMA held its annual business session with pertinent seminars for anyone in the music/bluegrass industry; i.e, how to give a better interview; how to budget so you can survive; eating on the road.

The finale is the IBMA Awards presentation which covers categories such as Best Banjo Player of the Year, Emerging Artist of the Year, etc. These awards are won by vote of their peers (members of IBMA). Many of these recipients, whether individuals or bands, have played various venues in western Colorado.

WOB is a two-day festival that goes from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and until 2 a.m. in the off-site venues. More than 100 acts participated in WOB from young family bands to the most heralded performers in bluegrass. There are numerous stages in Raleigh and inside the convention center. Put on your walking shoes if you want to see all of these impressive musicians.

What I like about these festivals is that the musicians are free from the constraints of a recording studio and concert venue with a set play list. They explore their instruments and their music. There might be a 5-minute progressive break in the middle of a traditional tune. They invite other musicians to play with them (Michael Cleveland played with the Kruger Brothers). The music has feeling, regardless of the style.

The music went from traditional to progressive to classical when The Kruger Brothers and the Kontras Quartet played the entire Appalachian Concerto written and composed by Jens Kruger. (Jens Kruger recently received the Steve Martin Award for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.) The concerto is an emotional piece which brought tears to many, including myself.

The City of Raleigh went all-out to accommodate some 60,000 spectators on Friday and Saturday. The streets were clean; the crowds were safe at street crossings. There were vendors galore. If transportation is a problem, you could ride in a rickshaw for a donation, which I did when I needed to get to a late-night venue. The convention center is large, comfortable and accommodating.

Kudos to the hundreds of IBMA volunteers and to the City of Raleigh for hosting this event!

Now, are you wondering who did I see? Balsam Range (Album of the Year), The Kruger Brothers, The Boxcars (Adam Steffey, Mando Player of the Year), Punch Brothers, Chatham County Line (the hometown boys!), Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, Lindsay Lou and the Flat Bellies, Si Kahn and the Looping Brothers, and some super-groups. One was composed of Bryan Sutton (Guitar Player of the Year), Barry Bales (Alison Krauss’ bass player), Ronnie McCoury (The Travelin’ McCourys), Bela Fleck, Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers), and Noam Pikelney (Punch Brothers). Another super-group was “An Epic Collaboration” with Del McCoury, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, Mark Schatz and Jason Carter who was substituting for Alison Krauss. All were award winners in the first IBMA Awards Show in 1990.

Who didn’t I see? The SteelDrivers, Jim Hurst, Blue Highway, Lou Reid, The Steel Wheels, The Steep Canyon Rangers with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, just to name a few.

As I was walking around I saw so many familiar musicians just chatting with folks. I was able to speak to many of the ones that I have met through the years. They appreciate the people who support them. And all want to come to our valley!

Veta Gumber aka Vetabluegrass hosts a weekly show on KAFM 88.1, Bluegrass and Beyond, every Monday, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tune in to hear old and new bluegrass, from traditional to progressive; from Doc Watson to The Boxcars to Hot Buttered Rum, and beyond! She can be reached at vetabluegrass@gmail.com.

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