For reasons that fate thus far has failed to provide adequate justification, prior obligations continue to keep me from fully experiencing Raleigh’s burgeoning Wide Open Bluegrass tradition. Last year was the first year I’d heard of such a thing and I promised myself I wouldn’t miss it “next year”, though I failed to set a reminder or mark a calendar to check-in on the planning for this year’s event. And, wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t block off my calendar and the wife and I had conflicting plans.
Fortunately, I was able to venture into the City of Oaks for some of Saturday’s Wide Open Bluegrass Street Festival and it did not disappoint. I didn’t have a ton of time but I was determined to snap a quick picture of the Sir Walter Raleigh Banjostand. I allowed myself a few moments at any of the music stages along the way and I, of course, stopped to check out as many sidewalk performances as I could.
I have this really strange history with bluegrass music, a history that actually mimics several other genres or artists that I just didn’t get right away. To put it mildly, I was absolutely appalled by even just the mere mention of the word “bluegrass” growing up. I’ve softened quite a bit to it since, now very appreciative of the specificity of its harmonies and distinctiveness of its sound. Bluegrass aficionados may scoff at the thought of this, but I honestly think the Avett Brothers were my gateway drug into bluegrass music.
I didn’t spend quite enough time wandering the street festival to offer anything insightful, critical, or sensible to any conversation about it. What I want to say, though, is that my brief time walking around was a lot of fun and incredibly refreshing. The weather was amazing, a significant contributor to the experience no doubt, but the music and the atmosphere spearheaded the fun. With so many music stages, smaller tents and even sidewalk performers, it was difficult to be out of earshot of a fiddle, a steel guitar, a banjo or elegant harmonies. I love that Raleigh has this event and I hope it keeps coming back for many years to come. Maybe one of these years I’ll really get to enjoy it.
Notable sounds I overheard while walking around: The Railsplitters, Gold Heart, and Mipso.