Six venues—Lincoln Theatre, Long View Center, Tir Na Nog, The Pour House, Kings Barcade and The Architect Bar—host eight-band slates on Tuesday and Wednesday nights starting at 6 p.m., while the Raleigh Convention Center's ballroom offers a four-band bill. Each set begins on the hour; Thursday–Saturday lineups are four-band bills starting at 10 p.m. The Ramble is designed primarily to showcase rising stars of bluegrass, a term that's being applied loosely here. Don't expect much in the way of the Avett Brothers' punked-out hybrids, but modern string bands, breathy indie folk duos and harmonizing country gospel groups are sprinkled throughout these lineups.
Look to the Lincoln Theatre late at night for the biggest names, such as traditional-leaning powers Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out and Lonesome River Band, Steve Martin's Carolina-bred pals Steep Canyon Rangers and legendary vocalist and guitarist Peter Rowan. The Rangers play another set at Long View, while dobro master Jerry Douglas—famed for his work with Alison Krauss—graces The Architect Bar. Other notables spread across the venues the first two nights include the fine-fiddlin' Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, fresh female vocal and instrumental marvels Della Mae and Zac Brown Band bassist John Driskell Hopkins. If you're looking for homegrown talent, keep an ear out for Kickin Grass Band, Town Mountain and Lorraine Jordan & Carolina. —Spencer Griffith