Come Hear NC Sponsors Red Hat Main Stage at Wide Open Bluegrass Festival

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Come Hear NC will sponsor the Main Stage at Red Hat Amphitheater during the Wide Open Bluegrass festival Sept. 27 to 28 in Raleigh, which will be open to the public for free for the first time in the festival’s history.

Come Hear NC is a program of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and the North Carolina Arts Council designed to celebrate 2019 as the Year of Music as proclaimed by Governor Roy Cooper earlier this year.

“The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources values ‘arts for all citizens.’ When Red Hat was opened up free of charge for the public it made this sponsorship possible,” Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, said. “In between performances, we plan to present stories that demonstrate that the roots of American music really do run deep in North Carolina.”

Audiences at the Main Stage at Red Hat Amphitheater will be treated to six hours of performances by premier bluegrass acts, beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Sept. 28.

Wide Open Bluegrass closes the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) World of Bluegrass conference presented by Chiesi USA Sept. 24 to 28 in Raleigh. In addition to seven stages of free music the organizers announced that performances at the Red Hat Amphitheater will be open for free. A limited number of seats, in prime sections, will be available at reduced price points for members of IBMA and the public.
"With the help of our Raleigh partners and key sponsors, IBMA is transitioning our festival to a free, mission-forward event - taking bluegrass to the masses by reducing all barriers to participation. All are welcome to come hear the best in bluegrass music," said Paul Schiminger, IBMA’s Executive Director. 

As part of the Come Hear NC celebration, stages of North Carolina musicians and bands are also being sponsored at MerleFest, Hopscotch and the Ocean City Jazz Festival, among others.

“Over many generations, North Carolina has produced extraordinary musicians who have helped shape America’s cultural legacy,” Hamilton said. “Bluegrass, country, string band music, jazz, blues, gospel–you name the musical genre and I guarantee that you will find that North Carolinians have either helped invent the style or have made great contributions and innovations.”

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, along with the N.C. Arts Council, has preserved and celebrated the state’s rich musical traditions in a variety of ways:

  • The North Carolina Heritage Award started in 1988 and have brought nearly 100 musicians to Raleigh to receive lifetime achievement awards in a public ceremony; including Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Jim Shumate, George Shuffler, Bobby Hicks, and Tony Williamson. 
  • The N.C. Arts Council created the first cultural heritage project focusing on old-time and bluegrass music: Blue Ridge Music Trails, which covers venues and musicians in 28 counties of western North Carolina. 
  • Traditional Arts Programs for Students (TAPS) was also started in the mid-1990s as an afterschool program that uses old-time and bluegrass musicians to teach youth. There are now TAPS in 16 counties, the largest network of programs of this kind in any state.
  • The N.C. Arts Council has also issued numerous documentary recordings of North Carolina string band musicians, including a CD of Bascom Lamar Lunsford on the Smithsonian Folkways Label and a sound recording of Joe and Odell Thompson that has influenced a whole generation of young musicians, the best known being the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
  • The N.C. Arts Council also sponsored a stage of Blue Ridge Music Trails musicians as part of the Wide Open Bluegrass since the inception of the festival.

For more information on Come Hear NC visit

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