North Carolina Bands to Watch for at IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC SEPT 29-30, 2023

Carolina Bluegrass Band – This is the student band from UNC Chapel Hill that’s lead by our friend Russell Johnson. For many in the band this is their first experience with bluegrass music. It’s thrilling to see them lean into the genre and have fun with the music together. (SAT 6:00, City Plaza)

Darin & Brooke Aldridge – The husband and wife team are from Western North Carolina and have become regulars at the Grand Ole Opry. They’ve got a new bluegrass gospel record that’s rich with harmonies. (FRI 8:45, Davie Street; SAT 2:20, Come Hear NC)

Hank, Pattie & the Current – Lead by banjoist Hank Smith and fiddler Pattie Kinlaw this band is innovative by nature.  All four members are classically trained and like to stretch the boundaries of what they can do musically with acoustic instruments. Their live show is breathtaking. (FRI 6:15, Come Hear NC)

Jim Lauderdale – Jim is often thought of as a songwriter’s songwriter. He’s funny, thoughtful and writes with heart. He’s an artist who loves his sequins and is frequently one of the best dressed at the festival. (FRI 10:00, Come Hear NC)

Kruger Brothers – Jens and Uwe Kruger grew up in Switzerland but moved to North Carolina to learn from Doc Watson. They spent countless hours picking tunes and sharing stories with the Watson family. This year they’re playing a set dedicated to Doc and will be joined by dobro legend Jerry Douglas. (SAT 8:30, Red Hat)

Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road – Liam Purcell is a young lion on his instrument with an old soul. He grew up down the road from Doc Watson and plays traditional bluegrass with an innovative heart. Their high energy approach is always a favorite in Raleigh. (SAT 8:55, Come Hear NC)

Nu-Blu – Hailing from Siler City, Nu-Blu is hands down one of the hardest working bluegrass bands in the region. They produce videos, host a TV show and release recorded music. They’re always looking for new ways to connect with listeners. (FRI 10:00, Davie Street)

The Gospel Jubilators at IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC 2022, photo by Biff Jennings

The Gospel Jubilators – Using “only the instruments God gave them,” the Gospel Jubilators have kept the Jubilee acapella tradition alive and well in North Carolina for well over 40 years. They’re friends, men of faith and you can feel it when you hear them sing together. (FRI 3:45, Come Hear NC; SAT 4:15, Capital)

UNCG Old Time Ensemble – Colleges and Universities across the country have been forming bluegrass and old time ensembles. The newest ensembles at this year’s event is the Old Time Group that Dr. Revel Carr formed at UNCG. Their goal is to learn and play songs and tunes that have been part of North Carolina’s culture for generations. (FRI 9:45, City Plaza)

Tray Wellington Band – This is the second year in a row that Tray Wellington has been nominated for Best New Artist by IBMA members. He is widely recognized as one of the best new voices in bluegrass banjo. Tray won a 2019 IBMA Momentum Award. Josiah Nelson, the mandolin and fiddle player in the Tray Wellington Band, is nominated for a 2023 IBMA Momentum Award. (FRI 7:55, Capital; SAT 3:30, Come Hear, SAT 6:10, Red Hat)