A Nu Sound at MerleFest
Nu-Blu front woman Carolyn Routh has waited in the pouring rain
and ankle deep in mud to see her favorite artists play at MerleFest.
While she wouldn’t wish those dreary conditions on any fan or musician, Routh is hopeful her band’s exponentially growing fan base will follow her to this weekend’s music festival at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains.
“You can expect to hear anything from traditional bluegrass music to rock ’n’ roll,” Routh said on the diversity of Nu-Blu’s set list. “That’s one thing that makes Nu-Blu as diverse as we are. At any given time, you can never be sure of what you are going to hear. You might hear some rap, jazz or even some classic rock.”
While this weekend marks Routh’s first trip to MerleFest as a performer, her inner fan can’t help coming out as she speaks about seeing Merle Haggard and other iconic musicians take to the stage.
Routh said she was able to attend the second installment of MerleFest and noted how it has grown astronomically, as it has become one of the top destinations for musicians nationwide.
Some of Routh’s most memorable bluegrass moments came with a hard lesson to learn — one she hopes her fans won’t have to take.
“I still kick myself about this one to this day, but just in the festival’s second year, I had a chance to see Alison Krauss perform and … I missed it,” Routh said. “They were giving hot air balloon rides that year, and I was up in the air. I was still close enough to the ground and the stage to hear the performance though.”
Fortunately for Routh, she was able to see Krauss several times in the years that followed.
And once Routh began touring as a member of Nu-Blu, she learned how important the connection is between artists and fans during live performances.
“When I present a song, I want you to feel what I’m feeling on stage and to have an emotional connection to it,” Routh said. “We try to do that with everything that we do, whether it’s at a performance or in the studio. It’s all kicked out on some emotional response of some kind.”
A deep connection to her fans, along with meeting new people, is why Routh and the rest of Nu-Blu are committed to 150 tour stops annually.
“One of the best parts of touring is all of the friends we have made across the country,” Routh said. “I knew the North Carolina bluegrass scene before I ever started touring, and I came to expect that kind of atmosphere and camaraderie. What I came to find out was that it’s like that nationwide. Bluegrass has the best fans in the world. That community is the same anywhere you go.”
Routh is joined by her husband, co-founder Daniel, Levi Austin on banjo and Austin Koerner on the mandolin.
Nu-Blu takes to the Americana and Plaza stages at 12:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., respectively, on Friday, April 25.
MerleFest takes place April 24 to 27 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.merlefest.org.
For more on Nu-Blu, visit http://nu-blu.com.