Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2009 Merlefest Schedule Announced

The organizers of Merlefest have released the stage schedule for the 21st rendition of the event, which will occur April 23rd - 26th at the Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro North Carolina. Representatives from will attend in order to provide our perspective, whether its Shannon Wurst, who did such a nice job last year, or another artist. For those unfamiliar with Merlefest, it is a celebration of the life of Merle Watson - embracing a diverse spectrum of music associated with the Americana genre: bluegrass, alt-country, blues, Celtic, folk, and roots. The Music of MerleFest page provides an excellent overview with links to other interesting information such as the history of the festival and the Watsons.

Thursday April 23rd starts and ends with the celtic group Scythian. The band opens the festival at 3:00 PM and closes the day with a dance party from 10:30 PM to midnight. In between several famous artists will perform including Travis Tritt, Jerry Douglas, Tift Merritt, Dailey and Vincent, Peter Rowan, among many others. The music starts much earlier Friday, this time with Scythian leading the way at 9:30 am; little sleep for these guys. What follows is an incredible array of talent finalizing with Donna The Buffalo and the Friday night dance from 10:00 PM to Midnight. Who else performs Friday; just The Waybacks, Del McCoury, Tony Rice, Cadillac Sky, Ollabelle, and Jim Lauderdale among others. Plus numerous banjo, guitar, and picking workshops and contests. Thursday's contests feature the mandolin.

Not surprisingly, Saturday is the longest and most complex day of the four. Happy Traum welcomes attendees at 9:25 am and the day concludes with the popular Midnight Jam hosted by David Bromberg. The headliners for this day are cajun stars BeauSoleil, Emmylou Harris, Sam Bush, and Doc Watson. There is an amazing collection of talent that will force difficult decisions. For instance between 5:00 and 6:00 PM The Kruger Brothers, The Greencards, The Waybacks, Scythian, Rory Block, Missy Raines and The New Hip, The Steeldrivers, Polecat Creek, and Cadillac Sky are all scheduled within that time frame. We lean towards Rory Block, but who knows. What a lineup. There are similar quandaries throughout the day - a direct result of providing music on 14 stages. Sunday is a shortened schedule by Saturday's standard but still provides "some" music between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Put The Carolina Chocolate Drops on your schedule (1:30-2:30) and try to stick it out for Martha Scanlan at 4:00 PM. If you missed BeauSoleil during Saturday's Cajun dance, then you get another opportunity Sunday at 3:00 PM. See, that's another major benefit of Merlefest. At most festivals an artist plays once, maybe twice, then they're done. But here, most artists perform multiple times during the festival providing ample opportunity to hear a set.

Merlefest is one festival we book early. If you like "traditional music of the Appalachian region", you should too. We will see you there.

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