Special Collaboration with Alison Brown, Becky Buller, Sierra Hull, Missy Raines, and Molly Tuttle with

  • Dates: September 28, 2018
  • Venue: Red Hat Amphitheater
  • Location: Downtown Raleigh
  • Address: 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, NC 27601
  • Times: 9:30-11pm
  • Admission: Ticketed


For the first time at Wide Open Bluegrass, there will be a special collaboration featuring Alison BrownBecky BullerSierra HullMissy Raines, and Molly Tuttle, the first women to earn IBMA awards on their instruments. Alison Brown became the first woman instrumentalist to receive an IBMA Player of the Year Award, and was only the second ever Banjo Player of the Year to be awarded. Missy Raines has taken home 7 IBMA instrumentalist awards on bass, while Becky Buller, Sierra Hull, and Molly Tuttle all earned their honors on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar (respectively) in Raleigh in the last two years. Buller took home the 2016 Female Vocalist of the Year Award, as well,  and Raines, Hull and Tuttle have all garnered critical acclaim for their singing, making this a band with plenty of firepower on all fronts. This year, their single "Swept Away" has been nominated for IBMA's Recorded Event of the Year (winners will be announced on September 27).

“Missy and I both won Instrumentalists of the Year honors in the 1990s, the first women on our respective instruments,” says Alison Brown, President of Compass Records and 1991 IBMA Banjo Player of the Year. “But we had a long wait before Sierra, Becky and Molly claimed top honors on mandolin, fiddle and guitar. When Molly was named Guitar Player of the Year last year it was a real watershed moment: we finally had five female Instrumentalists of the Year to make a band! It seemed to be an important statement, as well as an incredibly fun idea, for us to come together musically and celebrate how much women have achieved in bluegrass over the past quarter of a century. And, in the process, hopefully we’ll inspire the next generation of young women in whose hands and imaginations the future of bluegrass will be shaped.”

Listen to Brown, Buller, Hull, Raines, and Tuttle perform "Swept Away" (YouTube link)

Two more groundbreaking women in roots music will join this stellar collaboration as special guests - Rhiannon Giddens, who delivered a spellbinding keynote address at last year's IBMA Business Conference and earned a Macarthur Genius Grant last year, and Gillian Welch, an award winning singer songwriter who will be the first musician ever to receive the Thomas Wolfe Prize for Literature, presented by University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Department of English & Comparative Literature.

Alison Brown
Alison Brown doesn't play the banjo. Alison Brown plays music on the banjo. In the instrumental food chain, the five-string banjo is one of the more dominant beasts: loud, brash and very hard to tame. In 1945, Earl Scruggs made the biggest leap in harnessing its raw power, bringing a revolutionary precision of touch and depth of tone. Thousands of three-finger style banjo players have since made their marks, but none has cut such a path or moved so far along it as has Alison Brown. She’s acclaimed as one of today’s finest progressive banjo players, but you rarely find her in a conventional bluegrass setting. Instead, she’s known for leading an ensemble that successfully marries a broad array of roots-influenced music: folk, jazz, Celtic and Latin. With her new Compass project, The Song of the Banjo, the 2015 IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award and 2001 GRAMMY Award-winning musician/composer/producer/entrepreneur plants another flag in her ongoing journey of sonic exploration. As one might expect from a Harvard-educated MBA and co-founder of Compass Records, for 20 years old one of the most respected bluegrass, folk, Celtic and Americana labels, the title of Brown's first album since 2009 was carefully considered. It comes from a poem by Rudyard Kipling, but she says the reason she chose it was that, “It points to the lyrical side of the banjo, which is the side I’m drawn to.” Although banjos typically play “tunes” or “breakdowns,” in Brown’s hands, the banjo truly sings. Part of that is the result of the modifications she’s made to her signature model Prucha 5-string, muting the usual harsher overtones and extraneous noises, emphasizing the sweetness and melodicism. But mostly, it’s her unique musical vision. Brown never wastes a note, never launching into banjo tsunamis just because she can; stopping her precision three-finger roll to leave space for a lyric or other instrumental voice when appropriate. Don’t mistake it, there is plenty of jaw-dropping virtuosity on The Song of the Banjo, but it's always in service to the melody at hand. The great tenor saxophonist Lester Young had to know the lyrics before he played a song, even as an instrumental. Like him, Brown always plays the words as well as the melody.

Becky Buller
In 2016, Becky Buller made bluegrass music history by becoming the first artist ever to win in both the instrumental and vocal categories at the IBMA) awards. Her songs, recorded by some of the industry’s best, preceded the fiery-haired fiddler’s own prominence as an artist in the acoustic music world. Artists including Ricky Skaggs (“Music To My Ears”), Rhonda Vincent (“Fishers of Men”), Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (“Be Living”), Josh Williams (“You Love Me Today”), Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out (“My Angeline”, “Rest My Weary Feet”, “Cottontown”) and The Infamous Stringdusters (“Freedom”), have cut her songs. Now, as the leader of her own band, Buller's audiences are connecting the composer with her compositions … to the tune of five IBMA awards in the last two years, including the 2016 Fiddler and Female Vocalist and 2015 Songwriter Of The Year nods. This year, she is nominated in eight categories, including Song of the Year, Gospel Performance of the Year, Recorded Event of the Year (with three different nominations), Female Vocalist of the Year, and Fiddle Player of the Year (winners will be announced on September 27). Crêpe Paper Heart, Buller's fourth solo album and second release for the Dark Shadow Recording label, came out on Valentine’s Day 2018 and is enjoying much success on the bluegrass airplay charts. The album features Buller's immensely talented road band, along with award-winning guests Rhonda Vincent, The Fairfield Four, Sam Bush, Frank Solivan, Claire Lynch, Rob Ickes, Stephen and Jana Mougin, and Erin Youngberg (FY5).

Sierra Hull
Sierra Hull has been recognized from age 11 as a virtuoso mandolin-player, astonishing audiences and fellow-musicians alike. Now a seasoned touring musician nearing her mid-20s, Hull has delivered her most inspired, accomplished, and mature recorded work to date; no small feat. Weighted Mind is a landmark achievement, not just in Hull's career, but in the world of folk-pop, bluegrass, and acoustic music overall. With instrumentation comprised largely of mandolin, bass, and vocals, this is genre-transcending music at its best, with production by Béla Fleck and special harmony vocal guests Alison Krauss, Abigail Washburn, and Rhiannon Giddens adding to the luster. Hull speaks eloquently, in her challenging and sensitive originals, her heartfelt vocals, and once again breaks new ground on the mandolin. She has been named IBMA's Mandolin Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017, and she's a finalist again in 2018 (awards will be announced on Thursday, Sept. 27.).

Missy Raines
With a smokey and seductive alto, seven-time IBMA Bass Player of the Year Missy Raines heads up the all-acoustic ensemble, The New Hip. The territory The New Hip covers is broad and the compass is set by Raines, planted right in the center of the stage directing with her bass every bit as much as she’s playing it. Raines, “…launches her well-tended craft off the bluegrass dock into the waters of jazz and folk, holding onto the anchor of bluegrass while pushing steadily at the boundaries of the music that engulfs her.” -Country Standard Time

Raines’ bluegrass roots are deep and long-reaching with touring and recording stints with first generation legends such as Eddie Adcock, Mac Wiseman, Jesse McReynolds, Josh Graves, and Kenny Baker. A former member of the Claire Lynch Band, The Brother Boys, and one half of the acoustic super duo Jim Hurst and Missy Raines, Raines is one of the most respected and popular figures within the bluegrass community. On her newest album, Royal Traveller, Raines comes into her own as a vocalist and songwriter on a collection of songs that reflect the breadth of her musical vision. The album’s title track is a nod to Raines' many years of dedication to her art and the challenges endemic in the pursuit of a musician’s life.

Molly Tuttle
Last year, Molly Tuttle made history by being the first woman to win IBMA's Guitar Player of the Year Award; she was also the first woman to be nominated for the honor. On her debut solo EP Rise, Tuttle reveals the rich new ground she’s discovered. Produced by Kai Welch (Abigail Washburn, Bobby Bare, Jr., the Greencards), the seven-song collection relies on a rock-solid bluegrass foundation as Tuttle breaks free without breaking ties, singing and exploring what her six-string acoustic guitar can do. Rise further introduces Molly to a roots music audience who’s already enthusiastically embraced and elevated her. Earlier this year, she received Folk Alliance International’s Song of the Year award for her song “You Didn’t Call My Name,” and she continues garnering recognition in the bluegrass world, with SIX IBMA nominations this year: Guitar Player of the Year, Song of the Year ("You Didn't Call My Name"), Album of the Year (Rise), Emerging Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, and Recorded Event of the Year ("Swept Away").

Rhiannon Giddens
Singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens is the co-founder of the GRAMMY award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she also plays banjo and fiddle. In 2016, she earned the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, and in 2017 she released Freedom Highway (follow-up to her acclaimed, GRAMMY-nominated solo album Tomorrow Is My Turn) and had a recurring role on the CMT show Nashville. Also last year, she also delivered a spellbinding keynote at the International Bluegrass Music Association business conference; and earned a MacArthur Genius Grant. She began gaining recognition as a solo artist when she stole the show at the T Bone Burnett–produced Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City’s Town Hall in 2013. Her elegant bearing, prodigious voice, and fierce spirit shine through in her performances and her songwriting, and she masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues, and country, showcasing her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess.

Gillian Welch
Gillian Welch’s rich and remarkable career spans more than 20 years, and she is a pillar of the modern acoustic music world. After moving to Nashville in the early 1990s, Welch was launched into the public consciousness when Emmylou Harris recorded a cover of Welch’s “Orphan Girl.” Her career continued to flourish as her 1996 debut Revival, produced by T Bone Burnett, was released to critical acclaim. Firmly on the roots music map following the release, Welch followed up that GRAMMY nominated album release with 1998’s Hell Among The Yearlings, a stark duet record with partner David Rawlings, further solidifying the duo as a force in the folk music scene. When Welch served as executive producer as well as a performer on the eight times platinum O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, she was awarded the Album of the Year GRAMMY Award win, and was simultaneously nominated for her own Time (The Revelator), which Rolling Stone called one of the best albums of the 2000s, and which is widely considered by critics to be one of the best albums of all time. This release was Welch-Rawlings’ first on their own record label, Acony Records, helping to establish the duo’s fierce independence. 2003’s Soul Journey was the pair’s first experimentation with a fuller, electric sound, which paved the way for the Dave Rawlings Machine project, and their first release under Rawlings’ name (A Friend of A Friend, 2009), which was accompanied by a period of heavy touring and headlining major festivals while biding their time to return to the duet sound the two were known for. 2011’s The Harrow and The Harvest felt like a sonic cultivation of what the two had been honing in on and perfecting for decades, and the awards circuit noticed, nominating the album for Best Contemporary Folk Album and Best Engineered Album at the GRAMMYs, Artist of the Year (Welch) and Instrumentalist of the Year (Rawlings) at the Americana Honors & Awards, along with glowing reviews and multiple mentions on year end “Best Of” lists. The duo returned to Rawlings’ moniker for their next two releases, 2015’s Nashville Obsolete and 2017’s Poor David’s Almanack (GRAMMY Nominated for “Best American Roots Song” for first single “Cumberland Gap“). In celebration of the 20 year anniversary of the Welch-Rawlings partnership, the two released the first installation of the “Boots” releases, “Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg,” a double album of unreleased outtakes, alternate versions, and demos from the making of the seminal 1996 debut album. This time period also saw the duo crowned with the Berklee American Masters Award and the honor of the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement for Songwriting. Welch and Rawlings continue to tour the world in support of their projects while simultaneously writing, lending their talents to countless fellow artists' recordings, and working to release their highly celebrated catalog on phonograph record for the first time ever.