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Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass


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‘MerleFest on the Road’ offers a sneak peek of annual festival

While you’re thawing out from the latest blow Old Man Winter has landed, here’s a thought that should warm you: It’s only 72 days until MerleFest,  which is set for April 28-May 1 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

For the first time, MerleFest, the music festival founded in 1988 by the legendary Doc Watson in honor of his son and fellow musician Eddy Merle Watson, will offer music lovers a sneak peek of this spring’s festival when “MerleFest On the Road” tours throughout the Southeast during March. The tour will feature select artists scheduled to perform at MerleFest 2016: Tellico, High Plains Jamboree and Zoe & Cloyd. Continue reading


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Rooster Walk 8 adds 30 more bands to festival lineup

Just released from the folks at Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival:

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — From funk to folk, blues to bluegrass and jambands to jazz bands, the eighth annual Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival will have something for just about every music lover.

Rooster Walk 8 has unveiled an additional 30 acts that will take part in the Memorial Day weekend festival at Pop’s Farm just outside Martinsville. Continue reading


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My 2016 Grammy Predictions: Alabama Shakes, Chris Stapleton will be big winners

Following are my predictions for a few of the categories for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, which air tonight on CBS beginning at 8 p.m. EST:
Record of the Year
Who should win: Taylor Swift for “Blank Space”
Who will win: Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars for “Uptown Funk”
Album of the Year
Who should win: Alabama Shakes for “Sound & Color”
Who will win: Chris Stapleton for “Traveller”
Song of the Year
Who should win:  Taylor Swift for “Blank Space”
Who will win: Kendrick Lamar for “Alright”
Best New Artist
Who should win:  Courtney Barnett
Who will win: Meghan Trainor
Best Pop Solo Performance
Who should win:  Taylor Swift for “Blank Space”
Who will win: Ed Sheeran for “Thinking Out Loud”
Best Pop Vocal Album
Who should win: Taylor Swift for “1989”
Who will win: Taylor Swift for “1989”
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Who should win: Bob Dylan
Who will win: Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap
Best Rock Performance
Who should win: Foo Fighters
Who will win: Alabama Shakes
Best Rock Song
Who should win: Florence and the Machine for “What Kind of Man”
Who will win: Alabama Shakes for “Don’t Wanna Fight”
Best Solo Country Performance
Who should win: LeeAnn Womack for “Chances Are”
Who will win: Chris Stapleton for “Traveller”
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Who should win: Little Big Town for “Girl Crush”
Who will win: Little Big Town for “Girl Crush”
Best Country Song
Who should win: Tim McGraw for “Diamonds Rings and Old Barstools”
Who will win: Chris Stapleton for “Traveller”
Best Country Album
Who should win: Kacey Musgraves for “Pageant Material”
Who will win: Chris Stapleton for “Traveller”
Best Americana Album
Who should win: Brandi Carlile for “The Firewatcher’s Daughter”
Who will win: Jason Isbell for “Something More Than Free”
Best American Roots Song
Who should win: Béla Fleck And Abigail Washburn for “And I Am Born to Die”
Who will win: Don Henley for “The Cost of Living”
Best American Roots Performance
Who should win: Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell for “The Traveling Kind”
Who will win: The Punch Brothers for “Julep”

Best Folk Album

Who should win: Rhiannon Giddens for “Tomorrow Is My Turn”
Who will win: Rhiannon Giddens for “Tomorrow Is My Turn”
What are your predictions? Find the full list of nominees here.


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International Blues Competition first stop for Reidsville guitarist

This also ran on The Huffington Post here and on Halfway South here.

MADISON, N.C. — Seth Williams went from playing the blues on Madison’s Market Street to Memphis’ famed Beale Street at the 32nd International Blues Challenge Jan. 26-30. If the fans reaction is any indication, it won’t be this young musician’s last trip to the home of the blues and the birth place of rock ‘n roll.

“I think he did really well,” says T.L Lineberry, operations director for the Carolina Blues Festival. “He’s young and has a lot of talent.”

Williams, a 17-year-old native of Reidsville, North Carolina, was among the talent performing in the Blues Challenge Youth Showcase along with blues musicians from around the world who competed for cash, prizes and industry recognition. Williams earned a spot on one of the storied stages by winning the youth competition in October at the Blind Tiger in Greensboro, North Carolina. Continue reading


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MerleFest 2016 adds Jason Isbell, Tommy Emmanuel and Mike Farris and The Roseland Rhythm Revue and to lineup

From the folks at MerleFest today:

“MerleFest, presented by Window World and slated for April 28-May 1, 2016, is proud to announce three powerful new additions to the 2016 lineup: breakout Americana star Jason Isbell, legendary Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel and inspiring gospel songster Mike Farris and The Roseland Rhythm Revue. These three new artists join more than 100 other artists already announced, including John Prine, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dave Rawlings Machine, Brandi Carlile, The Wood Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers, Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Alison Brown, Doug Seegers, Will Overman Band and more! The four-day event, the largest roots and Americana music festival in the nation, takes place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in the heart of Appalachia. MerleFest continues the legacy of Doc Watson and is a benefit for the college. This homecoming of roots music artists and fans draws nearly 80,000 participants every year.”

The 2016 lineup is available online at www.MerleFest.org/lineup.

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Performers announced for 76th National Folk Festival Celebrating Its Second Year in North Carolina Sept. 9–11

From the folks at the National Folk Festival:

Greensboro, N.C., February 9, 2016 — The National Folk Festival announced today the first group of artists who will be performing in downtown Greensboro from September 9 – 11, 2016. The 76th National Folk Festival in 2016 marks the event’s second year of its three-year residency in Greensboro.

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