MerleFest announces initial lineup

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Article Published: Nov. 8, 2012 | Modified: Nov. 15, 2012
MerleFest announces initial lineup

The Charlie Daniels Band is one of the headliners for MerleFest 2013.

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MerleFest, slated for April 25 to 28, 2013, has announced the music festival’s initial lineup.
The four-day event, an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans, will once again take place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro.

According to MerleFest publicist Judy McDonough, “The initial lineup reflects the diversity and quality of performers that are the hallmark of the festival.”

Thursday night’s schedule will include North Carolina-native country rocker Charlie Daniels (with the Charlie Daniels Band); on Saturday evening, fans can expect special remembrances of the late Doc Watson, with a performance by the legendary Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who worked with Doc Watson on its classic “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” album, and a special all-star tribute to Doc, assembled by mandolin virtuoso and longtime Doc Watson friend Sam Bush.

On Charlie Daniels, “The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture” has written, “Few individuals have symbolized the South in popular culture as directly and indelibly as Charlie Daniels.”

His iconic rock anthem, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” as well as other classics, such as “In America,” “Uneasy Rider,” “The South's Gonna Do It,” “Long Haired Country Boy,” “Still in Saigon,” “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” and many others are part of a catalog that spans 50 years of record making and represents more than 20 million in sales.

About his long and highly successful career, the famed fiddler has said, “I have been blessed with gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums, I have appeared many times on network television, even in moving pictures. I’m a member of the Grand Ole Opry and have won multiple awards from The Country Music Association, The Academy of Country Music, The Gospel Music Association and even a Grammy. Ain’t God good?”

Daniels’ most recent album is “Land That I Love.”

The iconic and profoundly influential Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, often cited as a catalyst for an entire movement in country rock and American roots music, continues to add to its legendary status.
With multiplatinum and gold records, strings of top 10 hits, such as "Fishin' in the Dark" and "Mr. Bojangles," multiple Grammy, IBMA, CMA awards and nominations, the band's accolades continue to accumulate.

Its groundbreaking "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" album, which featured Doc Watson, among other traditional music icons, has been inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress, as well as the Grammy Hall of Fame. NGDB’s recording of "Mr. Bojangles" was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010.

“This year’s festival will celebrate the life and music of our dear friend Doc Watson, who passed away on May 29,” said Ted Hagaman, director of the festival. “For the past 25 years, he has been the artistic and spiritual center of this festival, so this year, we will come together as a family to pay special tribute to the man and the musician who meant so much to us all.”

MerleFest is known for its unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented music from the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, Americana, blues, country, Celtic, Cajun, cowboy, zydeco, rock and many other styles that Watson referred to as “traditional plus.”

“From the beginning, Doc and his wife, Rosa Lee, wanted this festival to honor the memory of their beloved son, Eddy Merle,” Hagaman said. “In the many conversations I’ve had with Doc through the years, he made clear that it was his desire to keep MerleFest as a quality event, with a focus both on family and providing a diverse collection of music. Going forward, it will be our honor to carry on that tradition.”

The following are among the artists scheduled to perform at MerleFest 2013: Richard Watson, Susana and Timmy Abell, Alberti Flea Circus, Banknotes, Glenn Bannerman, Gregg “Buffalo” Barfield,Riley Baugus, Bayou Diesel, Matraca Berg, The Black Lillies, Blind Boy Paxton, Bobby and Blue Ridge Tradition, Roy Book Binder, Laura Boosinger, Sam Bush, Calico Moon, Chatham County Line, Charlie Daniels Band, T. Michael Coleman, Dehlia Low, Donna the Buffalo, Jerry Douglas, Enter the Haggis, Tom Feldmann, French Broad Playboys, The Greencards, Mitch Greenhill, Wayne Henderson, Orville Hicks, Bob Hill, David Holt, The Honeycutters, The InterACTive Theater of Jef, Eilen Jewell, Johnson's Crossroad, The Kickin Grass Band, The Kruger Brothers, Pokey LaFarge, Jim Lauderdale, Jack Lawrence, Jeff Little Trio, The Local Boys, Doug MacLeod, Bill Mathis, Andy May, Tift Merritt, Misty River Band, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Mountain Heart, Michael Martin Murphey, Nashville Bluegrass Band, The Neighbors, The New Familiars, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Paul's Creek Band, The Quebe Sisters Band, Red Molly, Carol Rifkin, Peter Rowan, Scythian, The Sheets Family Band, The Sigmon Stringers, Steve and Ruth Smith, Chris Smither, Joe Smothers, Snyder Family Band, South Carolina Broadcasters, Kirk Sutphin, Bryan Sutton, Sutton, Holt and Coleman, Patrick Sweany, Tut Taylor, ToneBlazers, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, The Waybacks, Charles Welch, Pete and Joan Wernick, Ted White, Phil Wiggins & Corey Harris, The Wild Rumpus and Tony Williamson.
“This initial lineup shows that the festival will definitely live up to its ‘traditional plus’ motto, with a strong collection of internationally-known touring artists from many genres, as well as a collection of local North Carolina folk and bluegrass artists,” said Steve Johnson, artist relations manager for MerleFest. “And MerleFest fans know as the lineup continues to develop in the coming months, it will offer quite a few surprises – let's just say it's going to be a big year.”

“As MerleFest fans have learned, we release up-to-the-minute lineup additions and other festival news through our social media outlets,” Hagaman said. “So, staying in touch with us via our electronic newsletter, website (, Facebook and Twitter is crucial.”

The MerleFest box office will open for 2013 ticket sales on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. EST. Ticket purchases can be made online at or by calling (800) 343-7857. An early bird ticket discount is available through March 10, 2013.

MerleFest is considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro.

MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of American music legend Doc Watson who died May 29. MerleFest is a celebration of “traditional plus” music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles.

The festival hosts more than 90 artists, performing on 14 stages during the course of the four-day event. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.

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Additional Images

The Charlie Daniels Band is one of the headliners for MerleFest 2013.
Photo submitted

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, having performed with the late Doc Watson on the celebrated "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" album, will participate in a tribute to Watson at 2013's MerleFest.
Photo submitted

Mandolinist extraordinaire Sam Bush will return for MerleFest 2013, also participating in a tribute to his longtime friend, the late Doc Watson.

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