Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass

The Avetts, Earls of Leicester to perform at MerleFest 2015

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MerleFest has announced The Avett Brothers, Jim Avett and the Earls of Leicester as part of the April 23-26 music festival’s lineup.

The following comes from today’s press release announcement:

The four-day event, presented by Window World, is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans, will once again take place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, N.C. 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 Avett Brothers – one of the most requested-by-fans performers in the history of the festival – will be making their seventh appearance at MerleFest this year. Formed in 2001 in Charlotte, N.C., The Avett Brothers include brothers Scott Avett on banjo and Seth Avett on guitar, along with stand-up bass player Bob Crawford, cellist Joe Kwon, Mike Marsh on drums, Paul Defiglia on keyboard and organ and Tania Elizabeth on violin. Described as a rootsy amalgam of folk, country, bluegrass, rock and pop — with a jab of punk-style dynamics here and there – the band has released eight studio albums and several EPs, earning critical acclaim including a Grammy nomination and Rolling Stone’s 2009 Artist to Watch. “Magpie and the Dandelion,” the band’s eighth studio album and most recent release, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 this year, which NPR praised as conveying “kindly rendered intimacy in every note.”

In 2008, Jim Avett released his first album on Ramseur Records, “Jim Avett and Family,” a beautiful collection of gospel songs recorded with daughter Bonnie and sons Scott and Seth of The Avett Brothers. In 2010, he returned with “Tribes,” seven original songs that speak of love and loss, and in 2012, continued on those themes on “Second Chance.” As MerleFest attendees have discovered in his three prior appearances at the festival, Avett’s performance style is warm and relaxed, genuine and endearing. Avett is excited to return to MerleFest this year to share some of his beloved gospel songs.

Jerry Douglas presents the Earls of Leicester, a group of like-minded musicians banding together to recreate the wonderful music of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys. Led by 13-time Grammy-winner Jerry Douglas (band leader, Dobro), the Earls of Leicester features hit songwriter Shawn Camp (guitar, lead vocals), acclaimed banjoist Charlie Cushman, bassist Barry Bales (Douglas’s cohort in Alison Krauss & Union Station) and fiddler Johnny Warren (son of Paul Warren, legendary fiddle player in Flatt & Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys band).

The band plays selections from the era of 1954 to 1965. During these years, the band comprised Lester, Earl, Dobro player Josh Graves, fiddler Paul Warren, tenor singer and mandolinist Curly Seckler and bass player Jake Tullock. In a relatively short time as a performing group, “The Earls” shows have quickly become the stuff of legend in the roots/acoustic/bluegrass community. Their self-titled album was just nominated for a Grammy in the Best Bluegrass Album category.

“We promised more surprises for our 2015 lineup, and I think these artists qualify as worth the wait,” said Steve Johnson, artist relations manager for MerleFest. “We know that this will be welcome news to our fans, and we’re excited to have this collection of diverse and talented artists on board for MerleFest this year.”

And by the way, there are still a few more surprises to be announced for this year’s lineup. “Stay tuned!” added Johnson.

The current MerleFest 2015 lineup is viewable at, and additional artists will be announced in the coming months. Tickets for MerleFest 2015 are now on sale and may be purchased at or by calling 1-800-343-7857.

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