Where to Jam at 2023 IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC

2022 Photo by Biff Jennings

When World of Bluegrass comes to Raleigh it feels like every other person has a guitar, fiddle or banjo slung over their shoulder and a head full of tunes ready to share. This is much more than a sit and listen kind of festival. It’s a scene, one where many of the attendees are pickers and want to play

Please bring your instrument to downtown Raleigh and you will more than likely find a place to play. There are facilitated jam sessions lead by professional musicians performing on festival stages. Banjo player Tray Wellington is leading a jam Friday afternoon and says, “…I’ll have my full band with me and plan to call tunes and songs that are fun and that everyone can play.” Country GongBang from South Korea will also be leading a jam. The full schedule is as follows:

FRI 09.29.23 – Facilitated Jam Tent on Exchange Plaza

1:00 – 2:30 – Country GongBang

3:00 – 4:30 – The Tray Wellington Band

5:00 – 6:30 – Fair Black Rose Youth Jam

SAT 09.30.23 – Raleigh Convention Center Lobby

12:00 – 2:00 – Open Jam with The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys sponsored by Bluegrass Pride

SAT 09.30.23 – Facilitated Jam Tent on Exchange Plaza

1:00 – 2:30 – Earl White String Band (old time)

3:00 – 4:30 – Tall Poppy String Band (old time)

5:00 – 6:30 – Broken Compass Bluegrass

7:00 – 8:30 – Fair Black Rose

In addition to the facilitated jam spots in the tents on Enterprise and Exchange Plazas (near the YMCA), there will be chairs scattered throughout the festival site for jamming. You can jam at the feet of Sir Walter outside the Raleigh Convention Center. There’s also some nice shade on Lichtin Plaza outside the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts.

Most bluegrass jams are multigenerational with people of all ages coming together to pick tunes. However if you’re a young person and want to jam with people your own age there is a room in the Raleigh Convention Center that is set aside as a Youth Jam Room.

Of course, there are also many planned and spontaneous jam sessions during the week at the downtown hotels. The Marriott even has a floor dedicated to jamming. Folks who book rooms on that floor can frequently be heard playing until the early morning light.