Wednesday October 1 2014. It was largely a traveling day. Early start, in this case 6am alarm, packing, checking out, collecting our car from the Club’s own car park (we subsequently found out that it was just about the most expensive place to park in St Louis at $12 per day), finding a gas station near the airport to ensure it was returned with a full tank, locating the rental company drop-off point, aboard a shuttle ride to the airport and getting our boarding passes.
Then I had to say farewell to my delightful traveling companions Trish and Sandra. Finally, getting through security was a chore, it was as stringent as I ever have encountered.
All that done in good time, though, for the first leg – my flight to Pittsburgh. Time for breakfast.
This was a regional flight so I had a small Embraer ERJ145 aircraft, a one seat column on the left and two seats on the right, about 25 rows and low-ceilings – for me, it was head down at all times. The second flight from Pittsburg was the same, except less passengers (less than one third full). Once I got through security earlier in the day at St Louis, it turned out to be the most relaxing flying day I can remember for a while. And I arrived at Raleigh thirty minutes ahead of schedule.
A cab to the hotel and some tasks to catch up on so I would be relatively free for the next few days, when the pace would be frantic.
By 7pm, I was ready to check out IBMA’s World of Bluegrass 2014. The event is huge – there are Ramble showcase events Tuesday to Thursday, a business conference Wednesday to Thursday, an Awards show on Thursday night, a two-day Wide Open Bluegrass event on Friday and featuring a ticketed show at The Red Hat Amphitheatre and a plethora of free street events, a film festival (introduced this year), an Exhibit Hall, formal jam sessions, informal jam sessions and a street fair.
From my motel, it was a twenty five minute walk to the Raleigh Convention Centre. Upon arrival, I collected my IBMA Award show tickets, some brochures, purchased a festival shirt and headed down to The Workshop Stage.
The Davidson Brothers were my first-up experience. The Brothers grew up in regional Victoria and were raised in a musical family. The boys Hamish and Lachlan began playing music and performing at a young age and are multi-instrumentalists on banjo, fiddle and mandolin. With seven albums under their belt, they are one of Australia’s best bluegrass acts. Australian Country Music Award winners in 2009, 2010 and 2012, and Group of the Year at the 2010 Australian Independent Country Music Awards. In recent years, the Davidson Brothers have toured extensively throughout Australia and America, which included representing Australia at the World of Bluegrass in 2004 and 2009. They were later invited to present at the 2010 International Bluegrass Awards held at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The Brothers’ latest album is Wanderlust, which was released in June 2014, and features eleven original tracks, three of which are instrumentals. The live band also features Jacob McGuffie on guitar and Louis Gill on upright bass..
It was time for dinner, so I headed to the nearest place open at this relatively late hour for dining. By the time I returned to the Workshop Stage, Becky Buller was just commencing. If you’re a fan of acoustic music, particularly bluegrass, and you haven’t heard of fiddler Becky, there’s a good chance you’ve heard some of her songs, as her compositions have been recorded by Ricky Skaggs and Rhonda Vincent, as well as others. Hailing from Manchester, TN, her most recent release is ‘Tween Earth and Sky. Becky is also on the IBMA Board of Directors and plays with Dale Ann Bradley and the Darin and Brooke Aldridge band.