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WEB EXCLUSIVE Triangle-based band Into the Fog to take the stage at the annual IBMA World of Bluegrass festival after taking home the W at the MerleFest Band Competition.
After more than a year of having nearly nowhere to play, members of the Triangle-based genre-bending newgrass trio Into the Fog are finding themselves escaping into the light of potential stardom.
Gigs ranging from Cary’s Lazy Daze Arts and Craft Festival to Banjos and Beers at The Raleigh Times to MerleFest are filling up the band’s dance card as quickly as they can book them, says Brian Stephenson, who plays guitar and sings for the fledgling group he helped found three years ago (rounding out the trio are Winston Mitchell and Derek Lane, who are often helped out onstage by friends Will Maxwell, Jack Snyder, Connor Kozlosky and Matt Austin).
And, now, you can catch the spotlight-stealing band this Thursday at The Pour House Music Hall as part of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual World of Bluegrass conference and festival’s IBMA Ramble.
The News & Observer mentioned Into the Fog as one of 10 acts attendees shouldn’t miss during the celebration, which runs through Oct. 2 at Red Hat Amphitheatre, the Raleigh Convention Center and myriad other Downtown venues as part of the IBMA Ramble and Wide Open Bluegrass celebration on Fayetteville Street on Friday and Saturday.
But no matter where they’re playing, Into the Fog brings a unique blend of bluegrass and blues mixed with some outlaw country and funk to any stage they find themselves on.
“We were really just coming together as a band when we went out to the Telluride (Colorado) Bluegrass Festival in 2017 to compete in its annual band competition,” Stephenson explained after playing a set on the Hillside Stage at the recent 2021 MerleFest music festival in Wilkesboro. “We didn’t win the competition, unfortunately, and, then, well, you know, COVID.”
After the band’s pandemic-induced hiatus, the boys, who hail mainly from Wake Forest and around the Triangle, have reemerged as the most recent winners of the coveted MerleFest Band Competition.
Fifteen hot minutes on the tiny Plaza Stage on Saturday afternoon were all the band was given to compete against nine other talented acts. Into the Fog used every bit of its time to persuade judges they deserved that spot on the Hillside Stage on Sunday morning to kick off the last day of the four-day festival.
“I still can’t believe we won after hearing some of the competition,” said Stephenson, who wasn’t afraid to share his emotional response to winning with his bandmates and friends who gathered around him after the announcement. “I cried again when I called my mom.”
It appears Into the Fog is just getting started, or, restarted as it were. While not part of the IBMA festivities, the band is playing at The Pour House again Friday with The Wooks and Stillhouse Junkies. You’re going to want to keep an eye on Into the Fog’s rise to stardom—as they’re only going up from here.
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