Magazine article Strings

Fiddlers Feted at 2014 Ibma Awards

Magazine article Strings

Fiddlers Feted at 2014 Ibma Awards

Article excerpt

The tall, wide stage of the Red Hat Amphitheater in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, is suited for midsized pop and rock shows. Large, parallel arrays of speakers point toward rows of plastic chairs that hold several thousand listeners, backed by a narrow, triangular lawn that holds many more. The city's growing skyline hangs just beyond the crowd.

But on the Saturday afternoon of October 4, a man with a fiddle (Stuart Duncan) and another with a banjo (Noam Pikelny)-to be sure, a modest configuration for such a major setting-held the crowd captive and silent with but nine strings, some original tunes, and folk numbers they'd inherited from elders.

The outdoor venue felt, at least momentarily, like a small acoustic room, where players shared stories and songs collected over a lifetime. The surprising intimacy was one of several musical miracles at World of Bluegrass, the five-day celebration of pickers and singers, harmonies and solos organized by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

This marked the second year in North Carolina's capital city for the early autumn gathering, a weekend that filled the city streets with free acoustic music and rock clubs for a paid "Bluegrass Ramble." It also marked the 25th annual IBMA Awards show. Among the honorées, Dr. Neil Rosenberg, of the Canadian group the Spinney Brothers, was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of fame, with a tribute performance by fiddlers Michael Cleveland, Stuart Duncan, and Jason Carter.

By the time the aforementioned banjoist and fiddler hit the big stage Saturday afternoon, they'd emerged as two of the year's stars at IBMA. The attention was warranted.

On Friday, the fiddler, Stuart Duncan, had been among those players who had wowed at the Wide Open Jam in the same outdoor setting; standing just to the right of bassist Edgar Meyer, he'd traded solos with Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Béla Fleck, and Bryan Sutton. …

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