MerleFest, April 25-28, 2013 @ Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro NC
MerleFest is a family friendly music festival that was founded in 1988 in memory of Eddy Merle Watson — son of American music legend Doc Watson. For over 25 years, the festival has maintained its original purpose–to raise funds for Wilkes Community College while celebrating “traditional plus” music. Today, MerleFest is considered one of the top music festivals in the country, drawing more than 75,000 festival goers and some of the biggest names in traditional bluegrass, country, Americana, folk, rock and more. This year’s festival will feature over 90 musicians on 14 stages over the course of four days, so festival goers are encouraged to download the MerleFest app before they arrive to ensure the ultimate festival experience!
In true MerleFest fashion, festival organizers have gone above and beyond to congregate the best of the best at WCC. This year’s lineup features rising musicians like The Black Lillies, Pokey LaFarge, and Delta Rae alongside industry vets like Jim Lauderdale, Jerry Douglas, and headliners The Charlie Daniels Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Warren Haynes & Gov’t Mule. Additionally, local favorites, The Avett Brothers, have signed-on to closeout the festival on Sunday afternoon, but not before their talented father, Jim Avett, takes the Creekside Stage to perform a special family gospel set. In addition to this year’s stacked lineup, Sam Bush will host an all-star tribute jam on Saturday night to honor the life and music of the festival’s founding father Doc Watson, who sadly passed away last year.
While it is true that MerleFest mainly involves relaxing and enjoying the company of old and new friends while taking in amazing live performances, there are also several opportunities for fans to get involved and play some music themselves. Musically inclined fans can join others to pick, sing, and learn at Jam Camp, Pickin’ Place, and The Songwriters’ Coffeehouse. Young festival goers may enjoy spending some time in the Little Pickers Family Area, while fans of all ages can venture out into the WCC campus woods for a Nature Walk. MerleFest also features a series of contests for musicians and songwriters, including The Merle Watson Bluegrass Banjo Championship, The Doc Watson Guitar Championship, and The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. The twelve finalists for the CASC will perform on the Austin Stage on Friday, April 26th at 2:00 PM, and will be judged by a panel of music industry professionals, including Jim Lauderdale. The first place winner will receive a performance slot on the Cabin Stage that evening. All proceeds from the CASC benefit the WCC Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. And, last but certainly not least is the Saturday night Midnight Jam — a fun and often rowdy festival tradition!
If you are looking for a music festival to kick off the spring season, MerleFest is for you! Load up your car, head out to Wilkesboro, set up a tent at one of the many surrounding campsites, and be prepared to have your mind blown by some of the music industry’s best. Multi- and single-day tickets are still available. For more information about MerleFest, musicians, and festival events, please visit www.merlefest.org.