MerleFest artists win at IBMA Awards

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Article Published: Oct. 17, 2013 | Modified: Oct. 17, 2013
MerleFest artists win at IBMA Awards

Performer Bryan Sutton was named IBMA Guitar Player of the Year for 2013. Sutton, pictured at MerleFest 2013, will return for 2014’s festival.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

During the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass event in Raleigh, MerleFest released a “sneak peek” of its initial lineup of performers, many of whom brought home IBMA awards.

“Our IBMA sneak peak lineup is jam-packed with incredible bluegrass talent, which explains why so many of them brought home trophies from the IBMA awards ceremony,” said Steve Johnson, artist relations manager for MerleFest. “We let music fans attending in Raleigh know that MerleFest will present a strong bluegrass lineup in April. So, we were pleasantly surprised when the award presenters kept calling names from our sneak peek lineup as IBMA award winners.

MerleFest is slated for April 24 to 27 and will take place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. At the IBMA World of Bluegrass, MerleFest and Valle Crucis’ Mast Farm Inn co-sponsored the North Carolina Bluegrass Pavilion.

“(The awards) affirmed my belief that MerleFest 2014’s lineup will offer a lot of excitement,” Johnson said. “This includes our recent announcement that Alan Jackson will perform from his new album, ‘The Bluegrass Album,’ at the festival. We have lots of other special MerleFest moments planned, as well.”

Among the IBMA award-winning MerleFest performers are: Balsam Range – IBMA 2013 Album of the Year (“Papertown”); Terry and Cindy Baucom, IBMA 2013 Recorded Event of the Year (Terry is a MerleFest performer, and Cindy is a MerleFest emcee); The Claire Lynch Band – IBMA 2013 Female Vocalist of the Year (Claire Lynch); Della Mae – IBMA 2013 Emerging Artist of the Year; Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice – IBMA 2013 Male Vocalist of the Year (Junior Sisk); Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen – IBMA 2013 Banjo Player of the Year (Mike Munford) and IBMA Momentum Award Instrumentalist of the Year (Chris Luquette); Bryan Sutton – IBMA 2013 Guitar Player of the Year; and Town Mountain – IBMA 2013 Momentum Award Vocalist of the Year (Robert Greer).

The lineup also includes: Sam Bush, Dailey & Vincent with Jimmy Fortune, The Hillbenders, I Draw Slow, Mark Johnson, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, The Kickin Grass Band, The Kruger Brothers, Emory Lester, The Lonesome River Band, The Nashville Bluegrass Band, Mark Newton & Steve Thomas, Niall Toner Band, Nu-Blu, Missy Raines and The New Hip, Red June, Peter Rowan, Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, Dr. Ralph Stanley, The Steel Wheels, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Travelin’ McCourys, Volume Five, Richard Watson and Pete Wernick.

Additional performers for MerleFest 2014 will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets for MerleFest 2014 go on sale Nov. 12 and can be purchased at or by calling (800) 343-7857. An early-bird ticket discount is available through March 10, 2014.

MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, is 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 the late American music legend, Doc Watson. 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 13 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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