It’s that time of year again, folks. The Wide Open Bluegrass festival will be setting up shop in downtown Raleigh for its third year.
The festival will attract locals as well as international fans, and attendance is expected to surpass last year’s 150,000. Fayetteville Street will be closed off to make room for spectators, as well as dozens of local food and beer trucks.
This year’s headliner will be Alison Krauss, whose illness in 2013 prevented her from performing in Raleigh’s first Wide Open Bluegrass festival. She’ll be back for a do-over on Friday with her longtime band, Union Station. In addition, the Sam Bush Band, Earls of Leicester, and select others will be gracing the main stage at Red Hat Amphitheatre.
While Red Hat may be hosting some of the bigger names in bluegrass, the street festival downtown is set to have a record number of performers during the two day festival. There will be a total of seven stages, including a dance tent, throughout downtown Raleigh. The headliners this year are widely known in the world of bluegrass, but the street festival is full of promising newcomers and seasoned veterans. There’s no way to possibly see all of the acts, but here’s a few to look out for, along with their answers to a trio of questions.
Lonely Heartstring Band
From humble beginnings as Beatlegrass, a Beatles cover band, the Lonely Heartstring Band has developed their own signature sound over the years. In their early days, they played weddings. Now, they tour the country playing festivals big and small. Their recently released Kickstarter album has been generating buzz, and rightfully so. You can see them on Friday, October 2nd at 5:15 on the Hargett Street Stage.
From: Boston, Ma.
Excited to See at WOB: Alison Krauss, Town Mountain, Railsplitters, Mr. Sun.
Favorite bluegrass musicians: Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs.
Don’t let his size fool you. 13 year old Liam Purcell is a skilled multi-instrumentalist. Liam plays a total of nine instruments, including fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and bass. His band, Cane Mill Road, recently played the Iguazu en Concerto festival in Argentina. This will be the largest American festival for Liam, so head downtown early on Friday to catch him at the J.A.M. Showcase next to City Plaza at 11 a.m. Also, his band, Cane Mill Road, will be on the same stage at 2:00 on Saturday.
From: Deep Gap, NC.
Excited to see at WOB: Claire Lynch Band, Flatt Lonesome, Sam Bush & the Infamous Stringdusters.
Favorite bluegrass band: Nickel Creek
The Lang Sisters
Since forming their band in 2012, sisters Chloe, 17, and Jessica, 13, have been upstanding members of the IBMA and the North Carolina Bluegrass Association. They’ve played many stages, from festivals to nursing homes, and show no signs of slowing down. This will be their third consecutive year playing at the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival in Raleigh. They’ll be featured Friday, October 2nd at the J.A.M. Showcase next to City Plaza at 4:30.
From: Wake Forest, NC.
Excited to see at WOB: Mipso, Josh Goforth, Sierra Hull, Balsam Range.
Favorite bluegrass musicians: Alison Krauss & Union Station, Rebecca Frazier, Bryan Sutton.
The aptly named Ragged Union is the Frankenstein monster of bluegrass bands. Its members are from all over the country, most of them coming from different bluegrass groups. Although, after hearing them play, you’d think they’ve been together for years. Various members have played at large festivals such as MerleFest, Rocky Grass, and Keystone Bluegrass, but this will be one of their largest festivals as a group. They’ll be playing at 1:30 on Saturday, October 3rd at the Davie Street stage.
From: Texas, Colorado, Alaska, North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee.
Excited to see at WOB: Wood and Wire, Steep Canyon Rangers, Blue Highway.
Favorite bluegrass musician: Danny Paisley
This young group is well aware that they are playing in the shadow of the great musicians that came before them, hence the name Shadowgrass. That humble mindset, coupled with incredible talent makes for some great music. The members’ ages range from 11 to 15, but if bluegrass music has taught us anything, it’s that age is just a number. Shadowgrass will be closing the J.A.M. showcase next to City Plaza at 5:45 on Saturday.
From: Western NC, Southwest VA
Excited to see at WOB: Flatt Lonesome, Earls of Leicester, April Verch
Favorite bluegrass musicians: Too many to name.
Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys
Since the release of their first record in 2012, Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys have been traveling almost nonstop. They have been featured at festivals nationwide, including the prestigious StageCoach by Coachella. Their music combines Michigan roots with Appalachian tradition, creating a truly unique sound. They recently went on tour around America and the U.K. after releasing their latest album, “Ionia.” Be sure to catch them on Saturday, playing on the Davie Street Stage at 4:00.
From: Nashville TN, Michigan
Excited to see at WOB: Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project, Front Country, Mr. Sun
Favorite Bluegrass musicians: Too many to name.