Watauga Democrat
April 21, 2009


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MerleFest takes place

April 23-26 in Wilkesboro
By Frank Ruggiero

It’s finally here.

If the backed-up traffic, “My Grass is Blue” bumper stickers, and all those raccoon posters haven’t given it away, MerleFest, the High Country’s premier music festival, is officially under way on the campus of Wilkes Community College, from Thursday, April 23, through Sunday, April 26.

Now celebrating its 22nd year, MerleFest honors the memory of the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of the legendary Doc Watson, and the entire Watson family.

The festival also celebrates fellowship through musicianship, with thousands of patrons making a yearly pilgrimage to Wilkesboro to not only hear their favorite artists, but play catch-up with old friends and make new acquaintances.

Many friendships are forged at the Pickin’ Place, near the Traditional Stage, where four tents are arranged for the sole purpose of jamming. In the same tune, folks can also test their musical mettle with several contests, including the Merle Watson Bluegrass Banjo Championship and the Doc Watson Guitar Championship, both held at Alumni Hall on the community college campus.

For the young’uns, the Little Pickers’ area comes complete with children’s crafts, activities and live music.
Though music surrounds, festival-goers can find activities of a different note, like raffles, silent auctions, nature walks and shopping. Put simply, there’s four days’ worth of activity.

Just to get started, Thursday’s musical lineup includes the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band with special guest George Shuffler, Dailey & Vincent, Scythian, Bearfoot, The Lovell Sisters, Tift Merritt and Travis Tritt with Jerry Douglas, along with open mic shows and plenty of jammin’ for anyone so inclined.

Friday’s highlight is the Welcome Home Super Jam, featuring The Duhks with Jim Lauderdale and Peter Rowan. Following are The Dixie Bee-Liners, Ollabelle, The Grascals, The SteelDrivers, The Kruger Brothers, Mountain Heart with Tony Rice, John Cowan, Sierra Hull and Highway 111, The Del McCoury Band and The Waybacks.

Also on Friday are the Merle Watson Bluegrass Banjo Championship and the Doc Watson Guitar Championship at Alumni Hall, as well as the final round of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest.


Saturday’s festivities include the New Generation Super Jam, hosted by The SteelDrivers and The Belleville Outfit, featuring The Dixie Bee-Liners, The Farewell Drifters and Cadillac Sky. Also performing that day are The Greencards, Blue Highway, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Missy Raines and The New Hip, Sam Bush and Emmylou Harris. A special performance by Doc Watson and Friends begins at 6:15 p.m., to finish with a tribute to Merle Watson.


Festival-goers can start Sunday with gospel music on the Creekside Stage with Doc Watson and the Nashville Bluegrass Band, or blues on the Americana stage with Roy Book Binder and Patrick Sweany. Other Sunday performances include the Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Gibson Brothers, Happy Traum and George Hamilton IV. The festival closes with Linda Ronstadt, featuring Los Camperos de Nati Cano.


The gates open at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, and 9 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

The Rules
Good times and music are aplenty at MerleFest, but there are a few things that aren’t allowed.
• No alcohol or drugs
• No pets
• No unauthorized ATVs or golf carts on the campus or campgrounds
• No unauthorized video or audio recording
• No glass containers
• No tents or canopies in concert areas

Also, all seating is designated nonsmoking. Tents and buildings are nonsmoking, as well, though there are designated smoking areas, both outdoors and under cover.
And since alcohol is prohibited, all coolers and backpacks are subject to inspection at each festival entrance.

Tickets
A four-day, general admission pass costs $150, while three-day (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) general admission costs $130.
Single-day general admission varies for each day, with Thursday costing $35, Friday $45, Saturday $50 and Sunday $40.
General admission tickets mean lawn seating, so such ticket-holders should plan on bringing lawn chairs, blankets or both. However, general admission ticket-holders may use unoccupied reserved seats before 5 p.m. or until the owner returns.
For more information, visit www.merlefest.org on the Web.

MerleFest Schedule

The organizers at MerleFest have somehow managed to cram a mammoth number of musical acts into a four-day festival. We’ve somehow managed to cram their sizable schedule in our newspaper. What follows is an alphabetized schedule, showing each time the artist is performing and on which stage, i.e. the Watson Stage, the Cabin Stage, etc. The Lounge is located in Alumni Hall, also on the Wilkes Community College campus.

Thursday, April 23
Anne and Pete Sibley – 3:30 p.m., Cabin
The Banknotes, Billy Gee, Wayne Henderson and Jeff Little – 5:45 p.m., Cabin
Bearfoot – 4 p.m., Watson
Dailey and Vincent – 7:45 p.m., Watson
The Lovell Sisters – 5 p.m., Watson
The Neighbors – 5:45 p.m., Plaza
Open Mic – 2:30 & 6:30 p.m., Plaza
Pete Wernick – 4:35 p.m., Cabin
The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band with George Shuffler – 6:15 p.m., Watson
Scythian – 3 p.m., Watson
Tift Merritt – 8:45 p.m., Cabin
Travis Tritt and Jerry Douglas – 9:15 p.m., Watson
Tribute to Merle with The Kruger Bros. and Friends – 7:20 p.m., Cabin

Friday, April 24
Alberti Flea Circus – 12:15, 2:30, 6 p.m., Little Pickers
Andy May – 5 p.m., Little Pickers; 9:30 p.m., The Lounge
Anne and Pete Sibley – 8:20 p.m., The Lounge
Bearfoot – 3:30 p.m., Americana
Brandi Hart and Buddy Woodward of the Dixie Bee-liners – 8:55 p.m., The Lounge
Buffalo Barfield and P. Doodle Possum – 1:45 p.m., Little Pickers
Cadillac Sky – 12 p.m., Hillside; 4 p.m., Creekside
The Circuit Riders – 10:05 a.m., Cabin
Clack Mountain String Band – 5 p.m., Traditional
Doc Watson Guitar Championship – 3:30 p.m., Alumni Hall
Doc Watson, Richard Watson, T. Michael Coleman, Jeff Little, Joe Smothers and Cliff Miller – 5 p.m., Walker Center
Del McCoury Band – 7:45 p.m., Watson
The Dixie Bee-liners – 10 a.m., Little Pickers; 1:30 p.m., Watson
Donna the Buffalo – 5 p.m., Hillside; 10 p.m., Dance
The Duhks – 3:45 p.m., Hillside; 5:15 p.m., Dance
The Duhks with Jim Lauderdale and Peter Rowan – 10:45 a.m., Watson
The Farewell Drifters – 1:45 p.m., Creekside; 4:30 p.m., Americana
Full Throttle Bluegrass Band – 3 p.m., Little Pickers
The Grascals – 3:45 p.m., Watson
The InterACTive Theater of Jef – 11 a.m., Little Pickers
The John Cowan Band – 2:30 p.m., Hillside
The Kruger Brothers – 11 a.m., Creekside
Laurelyn Dossett and Kari Sickenberger of Polecat Creek; 11:15 p.m., The Lounge
Little Mo McCoury – 12:45 p.m., Little Pickers
The Little Rascals – 4 p.m., Little Pickers
The Lovell Sisters – 5:30 p.m., Americana
Martha Scanlan – 10:45 a.m., Americana; 10:40 p.m., The Lounge
Merle Watson Bluegrass Banjo Championship – 10 a.m., Alumni Hall
Missy Raines and The New Hip – 11:45 a.m., Americana; 5:05 p.m., Austin
Mountain Heart – 2:45 p.m., Creekside
Mountain Heart with Tony Rice – 6:15 p.m., Watson
Odessa Jorgenson of Bearfoot – 10:05 p.m., The Lounge
Ollabelle – 2:30 p.m., Watson
Out on the Ocean – 11:15 a.m., Dance; 4:45 p.m., The Plaza
Rodney Sutton with Mac and Jenny Traynham and Shay Garrick – 3:45 p.m., Dance
Roy Book Binder, Doug MacLeod, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and Patrick Sweany – 12:15 p.m., Creekside
Richard Watson and Mitch Greenhill – 2:05 p.m., Cabin
Rory Block – 5 p.m., Mayes Pit; 8:50 p.m., Cabin
Scythian – 9:30 a.m., Americana
Sierra Hull and Highway 111 – 1:15 p.m., Hillside
Spring Creek Bluegrass Band – 1 p.m., Americana
The Steeldrivers – 2:15 p.m., Americana; 5 p.m., Creekside
Tift Merritt – 11:50 p.m., The Lounge
Timmy and Susana Abell – 11:30 a.m., Little Pickers
Tribute to Merle with T. Michael Coleman, Jack Lawrence and Bill Mathis – 8:45 p.m., Cabin
Tut Taylor and The Local Boys host Open Mic – 10 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m., The Plaza
The Waybacks – 9:15 p.m., Watson
Wayne Henderson – 6 p.m., Pickin’ Place
Wayne Henderson and Jeff Little – 3:15 p.m., Cabin
WCC Child Development Singers – 9:30 a.m., Little Pickers
Zephyr Lightning Bolts – 2:15 p.m., Dance

Saturday, April 25
Alberti Flea Circus – 1:15, 4:30, 6 p.m., Little Pickers
Andy May – 5 p.m., Little Pickers
Andy May with Sierra Hull, The Lovell Sisters and the Full Throttle Bluegrass Band – 1 p.m., The Lounge
Angel Band – 12:35 p.m., Americana
Anne and Pete Sibley – 3:15 p.m., The Lounge
Bearfoot – 10 a.m., Creekside; 3:45 p.m., Walker Center
BeauSoleil avec Michael Ducet – 2:05 p.m., Mayes Pit; 10:30 p.m., Dance
The Belleville Outfit – 2 p.m., Creekside; 5 p.m., Dance
Bil VornDick and T. Michael Coleman – 1:15 p.m., The Lounge
Blue Highway – 3:45 p.m., Watson
Bob Bovee and Gail Heil – 3:30 p.m., Traditional
Broken Wire – 1:45 p.m., The Plaza; 3:45 p.m., Little Pickers
Buffalo Barfield – 10 a.m., Little Pickers
Buffalo Barfield and P. Doodle Possum – 1:45 p.m., Little Pickers
Cadillac Sky – 10:45 a.m., Watson; 2:45 p.m., Americana ; 5:30 p.m., Pickin’ PLace
Clack Mountain String Band – 3:30 p.m., Dance
Clack Mountain String Band, Paul Brown, Rayna and Dan Gellert, Violet Hensley, Brad Leftwich, Tom Sauber, Gail Heil and New North Carolina Ramblers – 10 a.m., Traditional
Compton and Darin Aldridge – 3:15 p.m., Creekside
The Circuit Riders with Jim Lauderdale – 11 a.m., Creekside
David Bromberg – 3:45 p.m., Hillside; 9 p.m., Cabin
The Dixie Bee-Liners – 1:40 p.m., Americana; 4:30 p.m., Pickin’ Place
Doc Watson and Friends – 6:15 p.m., Watson
Doug MacLeod – 10 a.m., The Lounge; 2:45 p.m., Austin
Emmylou Harris – 7:45 p.m. – Watson
The Farewell Drifters – 1:30 p.m., Pickin’ Place; 3:20 p.m., Cabin; 11:30 p.m., Walker Center
Full Throttle Bluegrass Band – 4:45 p.m., The Plaza
The Greencards – 1:30 p.m., Watson; 5 p.m.

Creekside
Happy Traum – 9:25 a.m., Mayes Pit; 12:35 p.m., Austin
The InterACTive Theater of Jef – 2:45 p.m., Little Pickers
Jeff Little – 12:15 p.m., Mayes Pit
Jessica Lovell and Warren Hood – 9:30 a.m., Mayes Pit
Jim Lauderdale, Jack Lawrence and Tony Williamson – 10:05 a.m., Cabin
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – 3:35 p.m., Austin
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and Patrick Sweany – 11 a.m., The Lounge
Joe Thompson with Violet Hensley, Robert Dotson, Clint Howard, Benton Flippen, Tom Sauber, Brad Leftwich and Paul Brown – 2:30 p.m., Traditional
The John Cowan Band – 12:15 p.m., Creekside
John Cowan, Laurelyn Dossett, Kari Sickenberger, and Anne and Pete Sibley – 10:25 a.m., Mayes Pit
Josh Goforth with Buddy Greene – 10:30 a.m., Pickin’ Place
The Kruger Brothers – 5 p.m., Americana
The Kruger Brothers with Laura Boosinger and Josh Goforth – 11 a.m., Dance
The Little Rascals – 11:30 a.m., Pickin’ Place
The Lovell Sisters – 12 p.m., The Lounge
Mark Lippard – 12 p.m., Little Pickers
Martha Scanlan – 10:55 a.m., Austin; 4 p.m., Mayes Pit
Megan Lovell, Michael Witcher and Tut Taylor – 3 p.m., Mayes Pit
Midnight Jam, hosted by David Bromberg with Angel Band, Bearfoot, Cadillac Sky, The Dixie Bee-Liners, Missy Raines and The New Hip, Spring Creek Bluegrass Band, The Steeldrivers, The Belleville Outfit and Ollabelle – 12 a.m., Walker Center
Missy Raines and The New Hip – 11:30 a.m., Americana; 1:15 p.m., Hillside; 5 p.m., The Lounge
Mitch Greenhill – 12:05 p.m., Austin
My Friend Merle, hosted by Mitch Greenhill with Doc Watson, Richard Watson, Jeff Little, T. Michael Coleman, Joe Smothers, Sam Bush, John Cowan, David Holt and Cliff Miller – 2:15 p.m., Walker Center
Nashville Bluegrass Band – 10:45 a.m., Walker Center
New North Carolina Ramblers – 12:30 p.m., Dance
Ollabelle with Jim Lauderdale and Martha Scanlan – 2:30 p.m., Hillside
Paul Brown and Patrick Sauber – 3:30 p.m., Pickin’ Place
Pat Donohue – 1:55 p.m., Austin; 7:15 p.m., Cabin
Patrick Sweany – 1:05 p.m., Austin
Pete and Joan Wernick – 2:05 p.m., The Lounge
Pete and Joan Wernick and Friends – 3:45 p.m., Americana
Polecat Creek – 2 p.m., Dance; 5:30 p.m., Traditional
Rayna and Dan Gellert, Violet Hensley, Brad Leftwich, Loretta Freeman and Lynsey, Paul Brown, Robert Dotson, Phil Jamison and Rodney Sutton – 11 a.m., Traditional
Rory Block – 10:30 a.m., Americana; 5 p.m., Austin
Roy Book Binder – 12, 4:15 p.m., Austin
Sam Bush – 9:30 p.m., Watson
Scythian – 12 p.m., Hillside; 5 p.m., Mayes Pit
Sierra Hull and Highway 111 – 11 a.m., Little Pickers; 12:30 p.m., Pickin’ Place
Smokey Valley Band – 12:15 p.m., Traditional; 7:30 p.m., Dance
Spring Creek Bluegrass Band – 9:50 a.m., Austin; 1 p.m., Walker Center
The Steeldrivers – 5:15 p.m., Walker Center
The Steeldrivers, The Belleville Outfit, The Dixie Bee-Liners, The Farewell Drifters and
Tift Merritt – 2:30 p.m., Watson
Stuart Duncan and Alan O’Bryant of the Nashville Bluegrass Band – 1:10 p.m., Mayes Pit
Susana and Timmy Abell – 12:30 p.m., Little Pickers
T. Michael Coleman and Byron House – 11:20 a.m., Mayes Pit
Tom, Brad and Alice – 4:30 p.m., Traditional
Tony Williamson with Sam Bush, Sierra Hull, Alex Johnstone, Rebecca Lovell, Mike Compton and Darin Aldridge – 3:15 p.m., Creekside
Tribute to Merle with Doc Watson, Sam Bush, T. Michael Coleman, Jack Lawrence and Bill Mathis – 7:10 p.m., Watson
Tut Taylor and The Local Boys host Open Mic – 10 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m., The Plaza
The Waybacks – 11:45 a.m., Walker Center; 5 p.m., Hillside
Willette Hinton, Rodney Sutton, Loretta Freeman and Lynsey, and Tom, Brad and Alice – 1:15 p.m., Traditional

Sunday, April 26
Alberti Flea Circus – 1:15, 4 p.m., Little Pickers
Anne and Pete Sibley, 10:40 a.m., Austin
Bearfoot – 11:45 a.m., Hillside
BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet – 3 p.m., Watson
Broken Wire – 11:30 a.m., Pickin’ Place
The Carolina Chocolate Drops – 1:30 p.m., Watson
Clack Mountain String Band – 2:35 p.m., Cabin
Darin and Brooke Alridge Band with George Hamilton IV – 1:45 p.m., Creekside
Doc Watson, Richard Watson, Mitch Greenhill, T. Michael Coleman, Buddy Greene and Jeff Little – 2:15 p.m., Americana
The Dixie Bee-Liners – 10:30 a.m., Hillside
The Farewell Drifters – 12:30 p.m., Austin
Full Throttle Bluegrass Band – 2 p.m., Pickin’ Place
The Gibson Brothers – 2:15 p.m., Hillside
The Gravy Boys – 12:45 p.m., Pickin’ Place
The Greencards – 1 p.m., Hillside
Gregg Barfield and Steve McGaha – 10:15 a.m., Pickin’ Place
Happy Traum – 11:05 a.m., Americana
Jeremy Stephens, Darren Moore, Tom Sauber, Brad Leftwich, Alice Gerrard, Clack Mountain String Band, and Mac and Jenny Traynham – 11 a.m., Traditional
Josh Goforth, Buddy Greene and David Holt – 2 p.m., Traditional
The Kruger Brothers – 11:15 a.m., Creekside
Laura Boosinger – 10 a.m., Traditional
Laura Boosinger and Josh Goforth – 12:30 p.m., Little Pickers
The Lovell Sisters – 1 p.m., Americana
Linda Ronstadt featuring Los Camperos de Nati Cano – 4:30 p.m., Watson
Martha Scanlan – 4 p.m., Cabin
Missy Raines and The New Hip – 12:15 p.m., Watson
Nashville Bluegrass Band with Doc Watson – 10 a.m., Creekside
New North Carolina Ramblers – 11:50 a.m., Traditional
Pete and Joan Wernick – 11:45 a.m., Cabin
Rayna and Dan Gellert, Tom and Patrick Sauber – 2:30 p.m., Dance
Rodney Sutton with Gail Heil and Bob Bovee – 11:30 a.m., Dance
Roy Book Binder and Patrick Sweany – 10 a.m., Americana
Roy Dobyns – 9:35 a.m., Creekside
Riley Baugus, Buddy Greene and Richard Watson – 1:10 p.m., Cabin
Riley Baugus, Laurelyn Dossett and Rhiannon Giddens – 11:40 a.m., Austin
Scythian – 1:45 p.m., Austin
Sierra Hull and Highway 111 – 11 a.m., Watson
Spring Creek Bluegrass Band – 12:45 p.m., Creekside
T. Michael Coleman, Jack Lawrence and Tony Williamson – 12 p.m., Americana
Timmy and Susana Abell – 11:30 a.m., Little Pickers
Tom Sauber, Brad Leftwich, Alice Gerrard, Mac and Jenny Traynham, Jeremy Stephens and Darren Moore – 12:45 p.m., Traditional
Tribute to Merle with T. Michael Coleman, Jack Lawrence and Bill Mathis – 6 p.m., Cabin
Tut Taylor and The Local Boys host Open Mic – 10 a.m. & 2:45 p.m., The Plaza
Violet Hensley, Brad Leftwich and Tom Sauber – 3 p.m., Pickin’ Place
Wayne Henderson and Friends – 1 p.m., Dance
The Zephyr Lightning Bolts – 1:45 p.m., The Plaza

Compiled by Frank Ruggiero

 


 



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