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

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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.

The schedule is as follows:

Thursday, March 3 – Isis Music Hall – Asheville, N.C.
Friday, March 4, 2016 – Harvester Performance Center – Rocky Mount, Va.*
Saturday, March 5 – Willingham Theater – Yadkinville, N.C.
Sunday, March 6 – The Willow Tree – Johnson City, Tenn.*
Wednesday, March 9 – “Tennessee Shines” at Boyd’s Jig and Reel – Knoxville, Tenn.*
Thursday, March 10 –The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art presented by the Blue Ridge Music Center – Winston-Salem, N.C.
Friday, March 11 – Gaston County Museum – Dallas, N.C.
Saturday, March 12 – Triad Acoustic Stage at the Carolina Theater – Greensboro, N.C.
Sunday, March 13 – The Evening Muse -| Charlotte, N.C.*

(*Tellico and High Plains Jamboree only.)

“The ‘MerleFest On the Road’ performers provide a sampling of bluegrass and old-time artists scheduled to perform at MerleFest 2016,” said Steve Johnson, MerleFest artist relations manager, in a press release. “It is important to remember that MerleFest cannot be defined by just one genre such as bluegrass or old-time. Doc Watson created the genre moniker of traditional-plus, ‘meaning the traditional music of the Appalachian region plus whatever other styles we were in the mood to play. Since the beginning, the people of the college and I have agreed that the music of MerleFest is ‘traditional plus’.’”

Tellico is firmly planted in Asheville, North Carolina’s thriving roots music scene. The band is well schooled in bluegrass but with an unbridled organic “Appalachiacana” sound, combining some of the finest voices, songs and instrumental prowess in western North Carolina and beyond. MerleFest fans know most of the band members from Dehlia Low, according to the release.

High Plains Jamboree is making its own jukebox memories, playing decades old favorites and original songs. With roots in Northern bluegrass and Southern troubadour country, these four veteran Austin, Texas, musicians bring a distinct Texas flavor to this new string band’s writing and singing.

Zoe & Cloyd, a husband-wife duo from Asheville, combine a foundation in traditional bluegrass and old-time Appalachian music with a modern sensibility. They are known for their haunting mountain voices, instrumental prowess and songwriting. They have been making music together for 10 years, including with MerleFest favorite Red June.

Johnson added, “We are delighted to showcase some of the finest artists on the 2016 lineup to take MerleFest on the road. MerleFest regulars tell us that they can hardly wait for every April to arrive, and now they don’t have to! We believe that the fans who catch a ‘MerleFest On the Road’ show will be more enthusiastic than ever for the festival in April.”

The “MerleFest on the Road” artists will be joined at the festival by John Prine, Old Crow Medicine Show, Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, The Wood Brothers, The Steep Canyon Rangers and many others. MerleFest 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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