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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: IBMA First-timer Question

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lyndabee - Posted - 08/21/2019:  13:23:00

Hey there, y’all,

This will be my first time at IBMA - I’m so excited!

I’m confused about whether I need to buy tickets to anything? I’m finding the website a bit overwhelming to navigate.
Any advice or insider info for an IBMA novice?

Thanks in advance for any advice y’all might have,

kmwaterstx - Posted - 08/21/2019:  13:34:27


perltone - Posted - 08/21/2019:  13:45:49

There is so much free stuff that you don't need to buy tickets. Check out the nightly showcases in the California and
Baltimore Bluegrass Assoc. suites in the Marriott. There are shows and workshops all over the Convention Center.
The trade show alone is where you can see all your heroes. You will love it. I have heard it described as, "All the escapees from the same asylum in the same place at the same time"

deestexas - Posted - 08/21/2019:  13:47:28

The IBMA business trade show requires a ticket for one, two, or three days, and admission to the award show also requires a ticket.

The Wide Open Bluegrass festival requires a ticket for reserved seating on one or two days.

The eight stages in downtown Raleigh are free, otherwise.">" target="_blank">

The Old Timer - Posted - 08/21/2019:  13:57:24

Linda, ask Kelly S. her advice.

If you want to get into the big outdoor stadium for the weekend "festival", get your tix NOW, they always sell out. Bruce was bummed when he couldn't see his favorite banjo guys there because tix were all sold out although we arrived on Tuesday!

FYI, if you don't want to attend all the IBMA meetings, you don't need to buy a ticket for the weekdays. If you can stand to wait until Saturday, the trade show Expo becomes free on Sat/Sun too. Trade Show tix only needed on weekdays. There is plenty of jamming, and hospitality suites with free shows by good bands, in the hotel every day and on weeknights.

They don't make it into a formal program, so it pays to traipse around every floor of the hotel looking for their big posters announcing show times. I tramped around to the various sets and shows in the general neighborhood and was well entertained without buying ANY formal tickets. I did get a ticket to the Awards Show which was well worth it. That usually does NOT sell out (the hall is gigantic).

Finally, there's a free app for your phone when you get there, that shows maps, all locations and all shows (except probably the informal hospitality suite gigs).

You will also want to ask for recommendations for places to eat that you can walk to. They tend to be JAMMED during IBMA week, so don't drag your feet about going to eat or you'll be waiting in line. Oh! That "street fair" scene on the big pedestrian mall there during IBMA week has plenty of walk up food vendors. Plus a few smaller cafes and restaurants permanently operating in the big business buildings on the street.

Take good comfortable footwear, and a rain jacket just in case.  And your banjo!  You'll see people you know, to jam with.


Edited by - The Old Timer on 08/21/2019 13:59:31

chuckv97 - Posted - 08/21/2019:  15:08:00

Just as an aside - are any of the old venues , radio station buildings, bars in which the early bluegrass bands (F&S, Reno & Smiley, Monroe, Stanley Bros.) performed in Raleigh still around? Or long torn down? Are any of them preserved as Heritage Buildings?


Edited by - chuckv97 on 08/21/2019 15:15:21

arnie fleischer - Posted - 08/21/2019:  15:26:58

Hi Lynda -

If you want to go to the Business Conference, you need a ticket. You can buy a 3-day ticket, a 2-day ticket, or a single-day ticket

The Business Conference runs Tuesday through Thursday. It's a trade show, with meetings, programs, seminars, and the Bluegrass Ramble, which is bands showcasing at a half dozen or so downtown Raleigh venues each night. You can buy tickets just for the Ramble if you want.

The Business Conference also includes the Momentum Awards luncheon on Wednesday, the Industry Awards luncheon on Thursday - and I'm proud to say that the bluegrass concert series I promote for the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck, NY is a finalist for IBMA Event of the Year for the fourth straight year - and the Awards Show Thursday night. The luncheons are included in the Business Conference ticket, but you need to buy a separate ticket for the Awards Show - which is a lot of fun. The Expo Hall is open to Business Conference attendees on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the Expo Hall is free.

As has been mentioned, there are also lots of showcases in the Convention Center and the Marriott that anyone can go to.

The Wide Open Bluegrass festival takes place on Friday and Saturday. Everything those two days is free, you don't need a ticket, including, for the first time, the Red Hat Amphitheatre - although you can buy reserved seats for the Red Hat shows if you want. The number of shows at the Red Hat has been reduced this year. Looks like they start at 5 PM instead of noon as in past years.

Also during the festival, there are a bunch of stages set up throughout downtown Raleigh where a bunch of bands, well-known and up-and-coming, perform constantly. There are also all kinds of vendors - crafts, food, etc. lining the main drag for about 6-8 blocks. The festival draws close to 300,000 people in those two days.

I went to IBMA for the first time in 1996, when it was in Owensboro. I've been back every year since 2002. I can tell you that it's never been better than in Raleigh, which has wholeheartedly adopted and supported the entire event.

You will have a blast.

lyndabee - Posted - 08/21/2019:  15:32:17

kmwaters , perltone , deestexas , The Old Timer - thank y’all so much for replying :-)

Bob, thanks for your tips about those showcase rooms and the trade show asylum part! :-]

Dick, I didn’t know Kelly had been before; I’ll ask her! Thanks for that tip and the lay of the land you shared. I wasn’t sure about the trade show part, so thank you for the expo tip... and the dining advice! This banjr gal likes to eat so that’ll be good to keep in mind, too!

I’ll be staying with some friends of friends (not musicians but appreciators of) who live about 10 minutes from Raleigh.

I was curious about the business part of the week... I’m flying in Tuesday so might check that out Wednesday?
On your advice, I will buy a ticket for the awards show.

Now to locate a loan of a flight case for my banjr...

I’ll try to remember to take lots of photos to share here.


lyndabee - Posted - 08/21/2019:  15:38:39

arnie fleischer thanks s much for sharing your recommendations! I’ll be flying in on Tuesday, so I might Try to attend the business conference part on Wednesday and/or Thursday? Sound alike a ticket for the awards show is a must.
I’m psyched for a great week! :-)

arnie fleischer - Posted - 08/21/2019:  16:31:18

Lynda, I'm there from Monday (there's a pre-conference event Monday evening) through Friday, leaving Saturday. I'm sure our paths will cross at some point. I spend a lot of time at the Elderly, Stelling and Grundy booths, and I will probably be jamming in the Expo Hall at least once during the week at the Leadership Bluegrass booth.

Since you'll be driving to downtown, I strongly suggest that you check out the parking options in advance. There are garages around the corner from the Marriott and across the street from the Sheraton. However, during the festival, they may be difficult to get to. Offhand I know of one other garage a few blocks away, and there are probably more parking sites that I can't recall right right now. But this is something you can look into before you drive in.

Le_Marteau - Posted - 08/21/2019:  16:38:00

It's the highlight of the year every year for me and we love having it here in Raleigh.

There are so many things to squeeze into the time, the website is a little lacking in clarity i'll agree.

So you have a few options ticket wise. The business conference offers 1,2, and 3 day ticket packages. If you get passes for the 2nd and 3rd day it includes entry to the expo hall before the public can get in Friday and Saturday.

The "Ramble Pass" is reasonably priced and includes entry to all paid performances in the local venues throughout the week. If you have a conference ticket the Ramble Pass is included.

In the past years the Red Hat amphitheater had paid shows on the friday and saturdays but this year it will be open to the public (capacity allowed) with reserved seats available. Get there early if you want to see the acts on the bill.

That goes without saying that some of the best things are free, all the street shows, the convention hall jams, and of course the shows/jams in the Marriot and Sheraton on their designated floors.

As for other things to do, we have an excellent set of museums downtown, many great restaurants (personal favorites include The Pit, The Big Easy, Flying Saucer, and Second Empire), and some parks if you need an escape from the crowds.

Have fun!

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