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Marshall Tucker, Belá Fleck, Del McCoury, Hot Rize and Sam Bush are among initial lineup for MerleFest 2015

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year: When all the area music festivals start to announce their initial lineups for next year. Kicking off announcement season is appropriately MerleFest, since it’s also the festival that kicks off the live, outdoor music festival season in the Piedmont. Following is the official press release announcement from MerleFest. Enjoy!

WILKESBORO, N.C. — MerleFest, presented by Lowe’s and slated for April 23-26, 2015, is proud to announce the music festival’s initial lineup. The four-day event, an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans, will once again take place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The star-packed grouping announced today includes:

The Marshall Tucker Band – These Southern rock titans can claim such classic radio staples as “Can’t You See,” “Heard It in a Love Song” and “Fire on the Mountain.” While they have toured the world since their first album in 1973, this is their first time performing at MerleFest.

Belá Fleck and Abigail Washburn – NPR recently stated that the “husband-and-wife banjo adventurers with divergent areas of specialty – is notable for its understated, welcoming calm. Across carefully arranged slivers of Americana, Fleck and Washburn explore roots music using the tones and coloration options that arise when two banjos join in conversation.”

North Mississippi Allstars – Pioneering their own brand of blues-infused rock ‘n’ roll, the North Mississippi Allstars have earned the reputation as one of the most intriguing acts to emerge from the rich soil of the deep South. As Rolling Stone has noted, “The Allstars may be children of tradition, but they’re digging deep in undiscovered country.”

Hot Rize with Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers – One of the most heralded bands in contemporary bluegrass returns to MerleFest! Hot Rize – with original members Tim O’Brien, Pete Wernick and Nick Forster, along with Grammy-winning guitarist Bryan Sutton – have just released their first new album in 24 years, “When I’m Free,” which debuted at the top of the bluegrass charts. Hot Rize will be joined by Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.

Del McCoury – Among the most distinguished practitioners of traditional bluegrass, this recent Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee shows no sign of slowing in his 75th year, picking up his second Grammy for the 2013 release “The Streets of Baltimore.”

The Gibson Brothers – Two-time IBMA Entertainer of the Year, The Gibson Brothers’ most recent bluegrass album, “They Called It Music,” spent six months at the top of the album charts in 2013. The brothers’ first new project for Rounder Records is due out early in 2015.

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis – Two of the most respected performers in the Americana world, this Texas husband and wife have recently released the critically-acclaimed “Our Year.” This will be the first time that the “Bruce and Kelly Show” takes the stage at MerleFest.

The initial lineup reflects the diversity and quality of performers who are the hallmark of the festival. MerleFest is known for its unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented music from the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, Americana, blues, country, Celtic, Cajun, cowboy, zydeco, rock and many other styles that the late Doc Watson referred to as “traditional plus.”

The following are among the artists scheduled to perform at MerleFest 2015:

Alberti Flea Circus, Backporch Bluegrass, Baillie and The Boys, Banknotes, Glenn Bannerman, Del Barber,  Baskery, Bayou Diesel, Jesse and Noah Bellamy, Bethel University Bluegrass Bands, Lee Bidgood, Big Sandy and His Fly Rite Boys, The Black Cadillacs, The Black Lillies, Blue-Bop,  Blue Highway, Blue Ridge Heritage Cloggers, Roy Book Binder, Laura Boosinger, Logan Brill, Sam Bush Band, Chatham County Line, Donna the Buffalo, Farmer Jason, Belá Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Front Country, The Gibson Brothers, Mitch Greenhill, Wayne Henderson, Bob Hill, The Honey Dewdrops, The Honeycutters, Hot Rize and Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, The InterACTive Theatre of Jef, Veronika Jackson, Mark Johnson, Rev. Robert B Jones, Sr., Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, The Kruger Brothers, Jim Lauderdale, Jack Lawrence, Emory Lester, Jeff Little, The Local Boys, Locust Honey, Doug MacLeod, The Marshall Tucker Band, Bill Mathis, Andy May, The David Mayfield Parade, Del McCoury, The Jason Lee McKinney Band, Mipso, Bill Mize, Moore Brothers Band, Cahalen Morrison and Eli West, Nashville Bluegrass Band, New Country Rehab, The North Mississippi Allstars, Blind Boy Paxton, The Ragbirds, Carol Rifkin & Friends, William Ritter and Sarah Ogletree, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, Peter Rowan, Scythian, The Sheets Family Band, Steve and Ruth Smith, Joe Smothers, South Carolina Broadcasters, Larry Stephenson Band, The Stray Birds, Sutton, Holt and Coleman, Tut Taylor, Paul Thorn, ToneBlazers, Happy Traum, The Two Man Gentleman Band, Underhill Rose, Unspoken Tradition, Richard Watson, The Waybacks, Charles Welch, Pete & Joan Wernick, Joe West and Santa Fe Revue, Ted White, Brandon Whyde & The Devils Keep and Tony Williamson.

Additional performers for MerleFest 2015 will be announced in the coming months. The lineup is viewable at http://www.MerleFest.org/lineup.

“We are keeping Doc Watson’s ‘Traditional Plus’ spirit alive for MerleFest 2015. The festival will showcase a wide variety of music from multiple genres. With artists and bands like The Marshall Tucker Band, Belá Fleck and Abigail Washburn, The North Mississippi Allstars, and Del McCoury, it’s sure to be a great weekend of music. And, the lineup isn’t finished yet. We will announce more great artists in the coming months. We have some special “moments” planned and the possibility for the ‘unplanned special moments’ is highly likely given the combination of artists that are known to collaborate at MerleFest.”

“As MerleFest fans have learned, we release up-to-the-minute lineup additions and other festival news through our social media outlets; so staying in touch with us via our electronic newsletter, website (www.MerleFest.org), Facebook and Twitter is crucial,” Johnson adds.

“It’s always a thrill for us to announce the performers at MerleFest each year, because we take pride in always presenting a lineup that is dynamic and diverse,” says Ted Hagaman, festival director. “It’s the quality of the artists and performances that our guests see over the four days of the festival that, in turn, creates another important element of MerleFest’s success: people truly feel that the festival is a great value. So many music fans and families return year after year, making MerleFest a regular spring tradition. We will always work to make that tradition continue.”

“Regarding value, we’ve instituted a new pricing structure this year. Those who plan ahead will appreciate the discounts that our ‘early bird’ tier pricing offers,” adds Hagaman.

Tickets for MerleFest 2015 go on sale Tuesday, November 11, at 2 p.m. EST, and may be purchased at http://www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. A three-tiered pricing structure will be offered for MerleFest 2015. An Early Bird Tier 1 ticket discount is available starting November 11 through February 15, 2015. An Early Bird Tier 2 ticket discount will run from February 16, 2015, through April 22, 2015. The third price tier will be gate pricing. Fans are encouraged to take advantage of the extended early bird discount.

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, North Carolina. MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle 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 a diverse mix of artists on its 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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