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Make Way for MerleFest



Article Published: Apr. 19, 2012 | Modified: Apr. 30, 2012
Make Way for MerleFest

An estimated 77,000 people attended last year’s MerleFest.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero



Come next Thursday, music lovers will be Wilkes-bound and down.

MerleFest returns to Wilkesboro April 26 to 29, promising more than 90 performers on 14 stages over the course of four days.

Organizers call it “an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans,” who gather on the Wilkes Community College campus to celebrate the memory of Eddy Merle Watson, the late son of American music icon and Deep Gap resident Doc Watson.

It’s a celebration many festivalgoers turn into a tradition, fans and musicians alike.

“The artists enjoy playing there,” festival director Ted Hagaman said in a previous interview. “In fact, we’ve had that told to us several times. I think it’s an opportunity … for them to come to a different, unique atmosphere, where they can kind of be themselves.”

Artists strolling the festival grounds are a common sight, as was the case with Zac Brown at last year’s event.

“From the stage, Zac Brown was talking about that,” Hagaman said, “how he can just walk around and talk to people. He wants to go buy a guitar in one of our shops, he can do that, take his kids out, let them participate in the Little Pickers area, just something you don’t get to do every day. So, we’ve had a lot of artists tell us that.”

Audience members share that atmosphere, packed with familiar faces from years past, some of who have attended MerleFest since its inception 25 years ago.

“Luckily, we’ve been blessed with people continuing to come and participate,” Hagaman said, estimating last year’s attendance rate at around 77,000. “Even in down economic times, we’ve done well, so we really appreciate our fans.”

That appreciation is evident in this year’s lineup:

Thursday, April 26

Banknotes, Blind Boy Chocolate & The Milk Sheiks, The Boxcars, Dailey & Vincent, The Deep Dark Woods, Vince Gill, Johnson’s Crossroad, Jubal’s Kin, The Kickin’ Grass Band, The Local Boys, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Misty River Band, The Sigmon Stringers, Steve and Ruth Smith, The Steel Wheels, Tut Taylor, ToneBlazers, Viper’s Dream, Pete and Joan Wernick, and The Wild Rumpus.



Friday, April 27

Doc Watson, Richard Watson, Timmy and Susana Abell, Alberti Flea Circus, Banknotes, Blind Boy Chocolate & The Milk Sheiks, Roy Book Binder, Laura Boosinger, Buffalo Barfield, Sam Bush, T. Michael Coleman, The Deep Dark Woods, Donna the Buffalo, Casey Driessen, Sarah and Christian Dugas, Enter the Haggis, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones: The Original Lineup, Mary Flower, The Greencards, Stefan Grossman, John Hammond, Wayne Henderson, Bob Hill, David Holt, The Honeycutters, The InterACTive Theater of Jef, Fruteland Jackson, Johnson, Phil and Gaye, Johnson’s Crossroad, Jubal’s Kin, The Kickin’ Grass Band, Jack Lawrence, Jeff Little, The Local Boys, Los Lobos, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Claire Lynch Band, Andy May, Cliff Miller, Misty River Band, The Neighbors, Paul’s Creek Band, Red June, Carol Rifkin, Michael Roach, Peter Rowan & The Free Mexican Airforce, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Scythian, The Sigmon Stringers, Patrick Simmons, Darrell Scott and John Cowan, Steve and Ruth Smith, Joe Smothers, Snyder Family Band, The Steel Wheels, Steep Canyon Rangers, Tut Taylor, The Waybacks, Pete and Joan Wernick, Ted White, The Wild Rumpus, Tony Williamson, Wylie and the Wild West and The Zephyr Lightning Bolts.



Saturday, April 28

Doc Watson, Richard Watson, Timmy and Susana Abell, Alberti Flea Circus, Assembly of Dust, Banknotes, Roy Book Binder, Laura Boosinger, Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys, Brooke and George Buckner, Buffalo Barfield, Sam Bush, T. Michael Coleman, Dehlia Low, Donna the Buffalo, Casey Driessen, Sarah and Christian Dugas, Mary Flower, The Gibson Brothers, The Greencards, Mitch Greenhill, Stefan Grossman, John Hammond, Wayne Henderson, Bob Hill, David Holt, The Honeycutters, Sierra Hull & Highway 111, The InterACTive Theater of Jef, Fruteland Jackson, Johnson’s Crossroad, Jubal’s Kin, The Kickin’ Grass Band, Jack Lawrence, Jeff Little, The Local Boys, Claire Lynch Band, Bill Mathis, Andy May, Cliff Miller, Misty River Band, Nashville Bluegrass Band, The Neighbors, Paul’s Creek Band, Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, Joe Sam Queen, Red June, Tony Rice Unit, Carol Rifkin, Michael Roach, Peter Rowan & The Free Mexican Airforce, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Scythian, The Sigmon Stringers, Sims Country Cloggers, Steve and Ruth Smith, Joe Smothers, Snyder Family Band, The Stoney Creek Boys, Tut Taylor, Tedeschi Trucks Band, ToneBlazers, Happy Traum, Viper’s Dream, The Waybacks, Charles Welch, Pete and Joan Wernick, Ted White, The Wild Rumpus, Tony Williamson, Wylie and the Wild West, and The Zephyr Lightning Bolts.



Sunday, April 29

Doc Watson, Richard Watson, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Timmy and Susana Abell, Alberti Flea Circus, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, Assembly of Dust, Banknotes, Benedict College Gospel Choir, Roy Book Binder, Laura Boosinger, Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys, Buffalo Barfield, T. Michael Coleman, Sarah and Christian Dugas, Mitch Greenhill, Wayne Henderson, Sierra Hull & Highway 111, The InterACTive Theater of Jef, Jubal’s Kin, The Kickin’ Grass Band, Jack Lawrence, Jeff Little, The Local Boys, Dougie MacLean, Bill Mathis, Andy May, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Red June, Carol Rifkin, The Sigmon Stringers, Steve and Ruth Smith, The Stoney Creek Boys, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Tut Taylor, ToneBlazers, Pete and Joan Wermick, Ted White, The Wild Rumpus, and The Zephyr Lightning Bolts.

Artists, days and times are subject to change. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.merlefest.org.

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