MerleFest – the 30th Celebration – features one of the festival’s most diverse lineups in its history.
We designed this year’s lineup to feature artists who have graced the stages at MerleFest over the past 29 festivals. We felt the 30th festival gave us an opportunity to put a spotlight on many of the artists who have made MerleFest one of the most esteemed festivals in the world,” said Ted Hagaman, festival director. “However, as in years past, the lineup introduces some outstanding talent that Steve Johnson, artist relations manager, has discovered during his travels to other festivals in the U.S. and abroad. We want to celebrate the festival’s past and also look toward the future.”
MerleFest, presented by Window World and scheduled for April 27-30, includes a who’s who of roots music’s greatest performers, many with impressive collections of awards from The Recording Academy (Grammy Award), International Bluegrass Music Association, Americana Music Association, Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, and more.
The 2017 lineup includes Zac Brown Band, The Transatlantic Sessions Tour with Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain featuring James Taylor, The Avett Brothers, Béla Fleck, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Del McCoury Band, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, The Earls of Leicester featuring Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, Steep Canyon Rangers, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, The Kruger Brothers, Jorma Kaukonen, Mandolin Orange, John Driskell Hopkins Band, Sarah Jarosz, Tift Merritt, The Steel Wheels, Mipso, Scythian, Chatham County Line, Sierra Hull, I Draw Slow, Jim Lauderdale, and many others.
“A MerleFest tradition is to honor the late folk legend Doc Watson and his son Eddy Merle Watson, for whom the festival is named. Doc helped start MerleFest in memory of his son who passed away in a tragic tractor accident, and he had a musical influence on most, if not all, artists who perform at the festival,” said Hagaman. “Sets planned to do that include the Docabilly Blues Blowout, Memories of The Watson Family, Gospel Songs of Doc Watson, and Stories and Songs of Doc Watson with The Kruger Brothers. In addition, Jack Lawrence will host the MerleFest Veterans Jam, which will include musicians who were close personal friends and performing partners with Doc and Merle and who Doc chose to perform at the first MerleFest in 1988.”
Workshops planned about Doc include “History of MerleFest” by B. Townes, “On The Road with Doc – Songs and Memories” by Jack Lawrence, and “Guitar Stylings of Doc Watson” by Bryan Sutton.
MerleFest is known for its unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented music from the Appalachian region, including bluegrass, old-time, Americana, blues, country, Celtic, Cajun, cowboy, zydeco, rock, and many other styles that the late Doc Watson referred to as “traditional plus.” Guests of the festival have come to expect the unexpected – celebrated “MerleFest Moments” of special collaborations and impromptu stage jams that are a frequent result of the artistic, collective spirit of this annual homecoming of musicians and music fans.
Special features at the 30th celebration will include the MerleFest Museum, which will be open during the festival for fans to visit. It includes old festival photos, videos, a montage of all the artists who have performed at the festival, and collections from and about Doc and Merle Watson. Additionally, the festival will sell a limited number of tickets to tour the backstage of Watson Stage, including the late Doc Watson’s dressing room. Tickets went on sale March 1 and must be purchased in advance of the festival.
And for the first time, MerleFest will have a tiny home on display for guests to see. Raffle tickets will be sold to win a two-night stay in a tiny home at Wildflower Villages in the beautiful mountains of Flat Rock, N.C., where famed poet Carl Sandburg called home. This tiny home community offers all the amenities of resort-style living. It is surrounded by many things to do in the quaint towns of the Pisgah National Forest and the eclectic, vibrant, artsy city of Asheville. Funds raised from this raffle will benefit the Doc Watson Student Emergency Fund at Wilkes Community College.
Visit MerleFest.org for more information about the festival and to see the complete lineup. Tickets for MerleFest 2017 are on sale now and may be purchased at MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. An advance ticket discount runs through April 26, 2017. Gate pricing begins on the first day of the festival.