Local News

Wide Open Bluegrass Festival underway in Raleigh

Posted October 1, 2016 8:38 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:38 p.m. EDT

— There's a party going on against the backdrop of the state capitol, not a Blue Ridge Mountain scene.

But we're close enough: This is still North Carolina, birthplace of the great Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, where bluegrass is part of the soul of the state.

Visitors to the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival have their pick of more than 90 bands performing on six stages. The entertainment at the festival is free, and it's paired with the North Carolina Whole Hog Barbecue Championship.

One of the visitors to the annual festival is Bruce Hunn. You can hear a twinge of a twang Hunn's voice.

"I love bluegrass—have for years," Hunn said on Friday. "I play a bit of that wherever I can, and play guitar here, and this is the place to be for bluegrass any time."

When the music starts, suddenly Fayetteville Street could be a red dirt road in some place named Lonesome Gap.

Think the banjo is just for good ol' boys? Let Cheyenne Dalton change your tune.

"I started playing classical violin when I was 9 or 10," Dalton said. "I just told my grandma I don't want to do this anymore. Everyone seems so serious, and they never have any fun."

So, Dalton took up fiddling and now plays with That Dalton Gang.

Bluegrass is authentically Southern, no doubt, but it has a serious coolness quotient—just look at Marie Arondeau, a millennial in dreadlocks, who is a fan of square dancing.

"I never even knew I liked bluegrass until I started coming maybe a couple years ago when it came to Raleigh, and I thought, 'Wow, this is awesome. I love bluegrass,'" Arondeau said.

The sound and soul can be hard to describe, but Thomas Marshall puts his finger on it.

"It's a spirit," Marshall said.

No, you don't much feel the blues when you hear bluegrass.

"It makes me feel relaxed," Marshall added. "It's relaxing."