PineCone celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a two-day Winter Music Festival at Raleigh’s Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday and Sunday, January 30-31. Singer-songwriter icon Kris Kristofferson is the headliner Saturday night, and bluegrass legends Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder are at the top of Sunday’s bill. One-day tickets are available for either day of the Festival and range from $40-$55. Two-day passes are also available and range from $70-$100.
The Winter Music Festival will be held in Meymandi Concert Hall, featuring performances by world-class acoustic artists, music vendors, and more. “All of the artists appearing as part of the festival have a history with and are friends of PineCone,” says William Lewis, PineCone’s Executive Director. “As you’ll witness from the performances, traditional roots music is a lively, dynamic, organic force that is as varied and nuanced as the individuals and communities from which it originates.
“Traditional roots musicians are deeply committed to building meaningful relationships with their audiences, and vice versa,” Lewis continues. “PineCone has worked diligently with numerous community partners over the past 25 years to bring audiences and artists together. We believe that public performances are significant sites where social issues, political ideas, and cultural values are expressed, mediated, and challenged. These public exchanges are an important reason traditional music remains as relevant to society today as it has been to societies in previous centuries.”
6:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
Saturday night kicks off with Telluride Bluegrass Band Champion Bearfoot, who bring fiery, inventive arrangements and inspiring harmonies to their bluegrass-infused music. Bearfoot, a band that is often compared to Nickel Creek, has traveled from their native Alaska to many top theaters and festivals, including Merlefest and the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Festival. Switching easily between airy Northern ballads and back-alley Southern blues, their music is underscored with bluegrass passion. They bring a remarkable breadth of rich, original songs to the stage, and their arrangements are fiery and inventive, with inspiring harmonies tying them together.
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
The Tony Rice Unit returns to Raleigh for this special event. A maverick of the flat-picked acoustic guitar, Tony Rice redefined guitar’s role in bluegrass music. As the first instrumentalist to seize upon the innovations of guitarists like Clarence White and Doc Watson, he propelled them into new flights of rhythmic, harmonic, and textural virtuosity and raised the bar for a new generation of acoustic six-stringers.
8:15 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.
North Carolina’s own Tift Merritt is also part of Saturday’s festivities. Singing a blend of country, rock and Southern rhythm and blues, Tift Merritt returns to the city where she grew up to join in a night of musical celebration. Also, Raleigh’s own Community Music School Vocal Ensemble will make a special appearance as part of Merritt’s set. Raleigh-born Merritt is the Honorary Chair of City of Raleigh Arts Commission’s “Artist of Tomorrow Scholarship,” which is awarded to a student pursuing a career in the arts.
9:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Legendary singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson sets his stories to music with an acoustic guitar, harmonica, and his distinctive voice. With multiple awards to his name-including the Country Music Association’s 2009 BMI Icon Award (bestowed on living country-songwriting legends) and the 2007 Johnny Cash Visionary Award from CMT-he is well known for his own music as well as for classics such as “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “For the Good Times,” and many others.
Honoring the bluegrass music fans who helped PineCone in the early days, as well as fans of PineCone’s weekly 3-hour radio show on 94.7FM WQDR, The PineCone Bluegrass Show-which has been on the air for 20 years and still airs every week-all of Sunday’s programs will be bluegrass. Performers include some of the most awarded bands in bluegrass music today.
2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Danny Paisley & the Southern Grass get the afternoon going with their powerful, unadorned, traditional bluegrass. The group received the 2009 IBMA Award for Song of the Year for their performance of “Don’t Throw Mama’s Flowers Away.” This band reflects a bluegrass legacy as band members carry on their families’ traditions. Danny and his brother Michael, the band’s bass player, are Bob Paisley’s sons. Bob grew up in Ashe County, N.C. and he formed and fronted the Southern Grass, which went on to become one of the most popular acts on the bluegrass circuit.
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The afternoon rolls on with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. Cleveland is a seven-time winner of the IBMA’s Fiddle Player of the Year award, winning his most recent honor at the 2009 IBMA Awards. Other honors he and his band received at the 2009 IBMA program were: Instrumental Group of the Year and Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year (“Jerusalem Ridge,” from Rounder Records – Cleveland also has a producer credit for this song from the album Leavin’ Town). In addition, Flamekeeper members Jesse Brock and Marshall Winborn each took home their first individual IBMA honors for Mandolin Player of the Year and Bass Player of the Year, respectively. This band performs music reminiscent of the first-generation stars of bluegrass.
4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Dale Ann Bradley, three-time winner of IBMA’s Vocalist of the Year Award, infuses traditional bluegrass music with contemporary flare. Known for her distinctive, gentle vocal phrasing, with a voice that has been referred to as “shimmering,” Bradley fills the stage with humor, grace, and integrity. She has been hailed by Alison Krauss and Ricky Skaggs as one of the greatest vocalists in country and bluegrass music.
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
The festival concludes with a performance by a long-time friend of PineCone and audience favorite Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. Ricky Skaggs is a 13-time Grammy Award winner whose name has become synonymous with both bluegrass and country music. With nearly 40 years in the music-making business, his songs transcend time and transport his audiences through the best of what bluegrass has to offer.
The Winter Music Festival is part of PineCone’s Down Home Concert Series, which brings national touring musicians to Raleigh. “PineCone is proud to be the Progress Energy Center’s only resident company dedicated exclusively to presenting traditional roots music programming,” Lewis says. “We enjoy the state-of-the-art facilities the Center has to offer our patrons and our artists.”
With a mission to preserve, present and promote traditional music, PineCone is a non-profit organization that presents more than 100 music events each year, including concerts, participatory music sessions, a weekly radio show on 94.7 WQDR, and more. Most of their programs are free and open to the public. In November, PineCone released its first anthology CD collection, which will be available for purchase at the Festival. Titled Going Down to Raleigh: Stringband Music in the North Carolina Piedmont 1976-1998, the collection features 48 tracks of field recordings that highlight the distinctive music traditions of the Piedmont region, including fiddlers, banjo players and other instrumentalists and singers who learned their music from family and friends. The anthology includes full liner notes and documentary photos of the musicians.
Other upcoming events in the Down Home Series include: Allen Toussaint (Meymandi Concert Hall, Feb. 18, 8 p.m.); The Wailin’ Jennys (Fletcher Theater, April 15, 8 p.m.); and Phil Wiggins & Corey Harris (Fletcher Theater, May 14, 8 p.m.).
Finally, thanks to all the Festival sponsors: Boom! Magazine; Café Carolina; Grassroots; Irregardless Café; Jimmy Johns; McCullers & Whitaker; Whole Foods; 103.1 WLHC-FM, as well as PineCone’s funders: the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, the North Carolina State Arts Council (with funds from the Department of Cultural Resources) and the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County.
LOCATION: Progress Energy Center for Performing Arts, Raleigh (www.progressenergycenter.com)
DATES/TIMES: Saturday & Sunday, Jan. 30-31, 2010. Saturday: 6 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.
TICKETS: PineCone’s Box Office 919-664-8302; TicketMaster 919-834-4000, www.ticketmaster.com; and Progress Energy Center Box Office 919-831-6060 (information only)
PRICE: One-day tickets, either day: $40-$50 PineCone members, $45-$55 general public; Two-day pass: $70-$90 PineCone members, $80-$100 general public
EVENT SPONSOR: PineCone – the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, Inc.