MerleFest Kicks Off Next Week


Doc Watson, Linda
Ronstadt, the Belleville Outfit, Emmylou Harris, David Bromberg,  the Duhks, Tift Merritt, Travis Tritt, the
Del McCoury Band…. It just gets better and better.



By Fred Mills



While hipsters across the globe are descending upon sunny
southern Cali for Coachella, across the country, at humble little Wilkes
Community College in Wilkesboro, NC, one of the longest-running PURE MUSIC
festivals is gearing up for its 22nd annual bash, which will feature
the talents of everyone from Linda Ronstadt, the Belleville Outfit, Emmylou
Harris and David Bromberg to the Duhks, Tift Merritt, Trafis Tritt and the Del
McCoury Band.


That’s right punters: if you ain’t been to MerleFest yet,
you ain’t been livin’. From Thursday, April 23, through Sunday the 26th,
legendary country/folk/bluegrass picker Doc Watson will be hosting his equally
legendary event. There will be no shortage of artists (100 of ‘em) and no
shortage of stages (15 – can Coachella beat THAT?) either. It all kicks off
Thursday at 2:30 pm.


So, to get started, first go to the official website: for all the details,
including merch and vendor info, stuff about on-site activities for kids (this
is a family-friendly event after all), and of course icketing info (there’s
also a toll free number you can call: 800-343-7857). You’ll have a range of
ticketing options, including the ultra-reasonable $35-$50 per day price for
general admission, as well as a reserved seating option at the massive Watson
Stage ($250 for all four days).


But what about those acts? According to the organizers, “As in previous years, the list of
performers fits the ‘traditional plus’ definition offered by Doc Watson when
describing the rich musical diversity that is a hallmark of the event. 
Sounds of bluegrass, Americana,
gospel, blues, folk, Celtic, Cajun and mariachi music will fill the air. The
artist lineup and stage schedules are posted at”


Well, all right, then. See below for more….




Thursday, April 23, will feature performances by the
Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band with special guest George Shuffler, Dailey &
Vincent, Scythian, Bearfoot, The Lovell Sisters, Tift Merritt, and Travis Tritt
with Jerry Douglas, among others.  The MerleFest Mandolin contest will
take place in Alumni Hall. 



The schedule on Friday,
April 24
, includes the Welcome Home Super Jam hosted by The
Duhks with Jim Lauderdale and Peter Rowan; The Dixie Bee-Liners, Ollabelle, The
Grascals, The SteelDrivers, The Kruger Brothers, Mountain Heart with Tony Rice,
John Cowan, Sierra Hull and Highway 111, The Del McCoury Band, and The Waybacks
with special guests.  The Merle Watson Bluegrass Banjo Championship and
the Doc Watson Guitar Championship will also take place on Friday in Alumni



The lineup for Saturday,
April 25
, includes the New Generation Super Jam hosted by The
SteelDrivers and The Belleville Outfit, with The Dixie Bee-Liners, The Farewell
Drifters and Cadillac Sky; The Greencards, Blue Highway, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Missy Raines and The New Hip, Sam Bush,
and Emmylou Harris.  The ever-popular Hillside Album Hour hosted by The
Waybacks will take place at 5:00 p.m., and a special performance by Doc Watson
and Friends, beginning at 6:15 p.m., will culminate in a tribute to Merle
Watson.  The Midnight Jam will take place in the Walker Center
(separate ticket required, available only to advance 4-day ticket
buyers).  Hosted by David Bromberg, with opening act The Farewell Drifters
(11:30 p.m.), the jam will also feature Angel Band, Bearfoot, Cadillac Sky, The
Dixie Bee-Liners, Missy Raines and The New Hip, Spring Creek Bluegrass Band,
The SteelDrivers, The Belleville Outfit, and Ollabelle.



Sunday, April 26, will begin with gospel music on
the Creekside Stage with Doc Watson and the Nashville Bluegrass Band, and blues
on the Americana
stage with Roy Book Binder and Patrick Sweany.  Featured performers
throughout the day include the Carolina Chocolate Drops, BeauSoleil avec
Michael Doucet, The Gibson Brothers, Happy Traum, Pete and Joan Wernick, Bearfoot,
and George Hamilton IV, among others.  The festival will close with Linda
Ronstadt featuring Los Camperos De Nati Cano, performing an afternoon of Canciones de Mi Padre, “Songs of
my Father.” 





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