The Less Expected: IBMA Acts to Catch Off the Main Stage | Music Feature | Indy Week
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The Less Expected: IBMA Acts to Catch Off the Main Stage 

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As far as booking goes, IBMA seems to be a creature of habit, inviting the many of the same acts to return to the Red Hat Amphitheater stage every year. Here are some artists to catch that aren’t, y’know, The Earls of Leicester.

Alice Gerrard

Alice Gerrard should be a household name among folk fans, thanks to her pioneering partnership with Hazel Dickens—together, the two were regarded as the first female-led bluegrass outfit. But this year, she makes her first Raleigh IBMA appearance, despite residing down the road in Durham. Gerrard’s most recent solo effort, 2014’s Follow the Music, earned a Grammy nod with her gorgeous, aching voice. —Spencer Griffith

(Friday, 11 a.m., Red Hat Amphitheater; Friday, 4 p.m., Davie Street Stage)

The Gravy Boys

Durham's Gravy Boys lump themselves in the Americana category, but with the help of Bill Spagnardi’s mandolin, the band’s cross-cultural sound weds garage rock and country with bluegrass. There's five-part, family-style vocal harmonies, too, but The Gravy Boys are more of the rockin' blues persuasion than high and lonesome. —Grant Britt

(Wednesday, 1 a.m., Vintage Church; Thursday, 7 p.m., Architect Bar & Social House; Friday, 1:45 p.m., Hargett Street Stage)

Hackensaw Boys

As its name implies, Virginia’s Hackensaw Boys built their reputation on picking ragged, rowdy string band tunes influenced as much by punk as bluegrass. Still rough around the edges in all the right ways, the four-piece string band—featuring a dedicated found percussion player—occasionally lets off the throttle for easy-going back porch jams. —Spencer Griffith

(Wednesday, 7 p.m., Pour House; Thursday, 1 a.m., Architect Bar & Social House; Thursday, 3:10 p.m., Masters Workshop Stage)

Malpass Brothers 

Chris and Taylor Malpass mix the hardcore country of Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, and Merle Haggard with some Elvis, a smidgen of bluegrass, a little Johnny Cash, and a chunk of rockabilly. Discovered by Haggard at a show, the Brothers were signed to his label and toured with him from 2008 through 2013. —Grant Britt

(Friday, 3 p.m., Hargett Street Stage; Friday, 7:30 p.m., Dance Tent)

Danny Paisley & Southern Grass

Among the slew of traditionally-minded performers that will descend upon Raleigh this week, Pennsylvania’s unapologetic Danny Paisley & Southern Grass stand out thanks to Paisley’s devastatingly emotive croon, which is as imposing and unique of a presence as the singer and guitarist himself, and razor-sharp, straightforward pickin’. They even defy expectations by deftly mixing a Beatles cover between well-known standards. —Spencer Griffith

(Friday, 1:30 p.m., Davie Street Stage)


Shadowgrass

The young pickers in Shadowgrass range in age from eleven to sixteen, but eleven-year-old-Presley Barker is the one to watch. The Kruger Brothers say the guitarist is already developing his own style on covers, flatpicking at warp speed like a bluegrass demon on a custom Martin D-42 dreadnought that he helped build. —Grant Britt

(Friday, 6 p.m., Junior Appalachian Musicians Stage; Saturday, 4 p.m., Youth Stage; Saturday, 6 p.m., Junior Appalachian Musicians Stage)

Town Mountain

Rising stars on the national bluegrass scene, Town Mountainis rooted in enough tradition to satisfy all but the strictest purists. With Robert Greer’s distinctive Southern drawl at the forefront, the hard-driving Asheville quintet brings enough adventure (like Grateful Dead classics) and attitude to appease the younger set too. —Spencer Griffith

(Wednesday, 9 p.m., Lincoln Theatre; Thursday, 4:20 p.m., Masters Workshop Stage; Sunday, 12:30 a.m., Marriott State Ballroom; Friday, 9:45 p.m., Capitol Stage) 


  • Didn’t get a ticket to the Red Hat Shows? Here are some bands to see instead.

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