If you are already a fan of MerleFest, then you can skip to No. 1. For the uninitiated, however, MerleFest is the younger, Eastern cousin of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I discovered this gem of Americana festivals more than a decade ago after I moved to North Carolina from spending nearly a decade out West attending Telluride. You may be surprised to learn that MerleFest has nothing to do with Merle Haggard, although that has proved confusing over the years. It was especially confusing last year, when the Hag himself closed out the four-day music festival. Instead it is named in memory of Eddy Merle Watson, son of bluegrass legend Doc Watson. Known as one of the best flat-picking and slide guitarists of his generation, Merle Watson died in a farming accident in 1985 at the age of 36. Doc started the Americana festival that bears his son’s name as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College in 1988 to honor his son and their style of music, that Doc referred to as “traditional plus,” meaning the traditional music of the Appalachian region plus whatever other styles the Watsons were in the mood to play. We lost Doc in 2012 but he and Merle’s celebration of “traditional plus” music, a unique blend 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, continues on at MerleFest. This year’s festival will play host to a diverse number of artists, performing on 13 stages during the course of the four-day event April 23-26. Watch this video from the very first #MerleFest 1988 featuring Mark O’Connor, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, Béla Fleck, Sam Bush and John Cowan, many of whom will be performing this year. And there are many more than eight reasons to attend MerleFest. Please feel free to share yours in the comment section. Continue reading
Fans of new grass, bluegrass and Appalachian rock, listen up: The lineup for Rooster Walk 7 set for May 21-24 at Pop’s Farm near Martinsville, Va., keeps getting better. Organizers announced today that Yonder Mountain String Band will headline along with Lake Street Dive, Steep Canyon Rangers, Southern Culture on the Skids, Mountain Heart and Big Daddy Love.
Mountain Heart, the cutting-edge bluegrass band that’s been redefining the genre for more than a decade, has been officially added to the Rooster Walk 7 lineup, which also includes Lake Street Dive, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Southern Culture on the Skids, Yarn, Dangermuffin, The Mantras, BIG Something and many more! Find the current band lineup for the Memorial Day Weekend festival May 21-24 on Pop’s Farm in Axton, Va., HERE. Continue reading
Color me impressed. Just a few years ago, one of my friends mentioned that she thought I would enjoy Rooster Walk, an annual grassroots music festival held just outside Martinsville, Va. She knew I was a diehard MerleFest and FloydFest fan and thought I should check out this festival that was family friendly, and much closer to my Madison, N.C., home. At her suggestion, I took a look at the lineup. My first reaction was: “I’ve never heard of any of these bands.” Continue reading