Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass

MerleFest is going on the road again to offer sneak peek to 30th reunion

Leave a comment

MerleFest is going on the road again. After last year’s premiere of the festival’s preview road show, organizers have decided to give it another go.

The popular music festival founded by the legendary Doc Watson and presented by Window World, offers 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 that will to perform at MerleFest 2017 or have performed previously at the festival: Mark Bumgarner, Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboys and Locust Honey.
  • Thursday, February 23 – Floyd Country Store, Floyd, Va.
  • Friday, February 24 – Gaston County Museum, Dallas, N.C.
  • Saturday, February 25 – Willingham Theater, Yadkinville, N.C.
  • Sunday, February 26 – Hendershot’s Coffee Bar, Athens, Ga.
  • Thursday, March 2 – Isis Music Hall, Asheville, N.C.
  • Friday, March 3 – Down Home, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Saturday, March 4 – Van Dyke Performance Space, Greensboro, N.C.
  • Sunday, March 5 – Motorco, Durham, N.C.
“The MerleFest On the Road performers provide a sampling of the music that is a mainstay at MerleFest,” said Steve Johnson, MerleFest artist relations manager. “A diverse ‘traditional plus’ lineup is a big part of the festival. However, it is important to remember that MerleFest cannot be defined by just one genre. 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’.’”
MerleFest is working with Triad Acoustic Stage to present this “MerleFest on the Road” festival preview concert with Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboys, Locust Honey and Mark Bumgarner at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 4, at Van Dyke Performance Space, Greensboro, North Carolina. For tickets, which are $20, click here..

Mark Bumgarner
Mark Bumgarner is a son of the South, but Mark’s musical influences span the American landscape, from the traditional sounds of the Appalachian Mountains to the West Coast country and folk rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Mark Bumgarner Music has spent the last 30 years performing with several national and regional touring bands, including the Nashville-based Jubal Foster. His musical style is a blend of roots country, bluegrass, and rockin’ hillbilly blues that is true Southern Americana.
Mark’s work continues to demonstrate his balance as an artist, musician, and songwriter. Mark’s credits include three self-produced album projects, with a forth expected in early 2017. These projects display Mark’s talent as a songwriter, as well as his ability to find the right material and give it his own special touch. This too is evident in #MarkBumgarner’s live performances. His dynamic delivery as a vocalist and guitarist are a combination of both power and subtlety. His experience and engaging style connects him to his audience, whether it’s on a large festival stage or in an intimate club, listening room, or coffeehouse.

Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboy
Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboy are musical gunslingers, vaudevillian hucksters and old-fashioned tent revivalists. Between heartbreaking ballads and hell-raising sing-alongs, the Cowboys entertain, inspire and get sing-alongs, they entertain and get audiences involved in the show.
Jonathan Byrd is a preacher’s son, a Gulf War veteran and an award-winning songwriter from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is known for his literary, outsider songs that have become campfire favorites. The Chicago Tribune called Byrd “one of the top 50 songwriters of the past 50 years.”
The Pickup Cowboy, Johnny Waken, cut his teeth on electric guitar in Pittsburgh with rock legend Norm Nardini, opening for The Blues Brothers on their Red, Hot & Blue tour in 1992. On stage and after hours, he jammed with Bon Jovi and the legendary Steve Cropper. At the age of 24, Waken left music to pursue primitive skills and through-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2000. Returning to music years later, Johnny joined theatre troupe Paper Hand Puppet Intervention, contributing to scores for nine shows and winning four Indy Awards for original music.

Locust Honey
As Locust Honey, Chloe Edmonstone and Meredith Watson bring their experience in old-time, bluegrass, and pre-war blues to both their original material and the traditional songs and tunes of the American Southeast. With a rotating instrumentation of fiddles, open-back and resonator banjos, and acoustic and resonator guitars, Honey Locust sets an emphasis on lively arrangements that showcase their signature vintage vocal harmonies. Joined by John Miller (The Fox Hunt, The Hackensaw Boys), they have been touring the U.S., U.K., and Ireland since 2012.
#LocustHoney’s original song, “When The Whiskey’s Gone,” was featured in the 2014 film “Time Out of Mind,” starring Richard Gere and directed by Oren Moverman. A second unreleased original will be featured on the soundtrack of the 2017 film “The Dinner” by the same writer/director. Locust Honey’s record “Never Let Me Cross Your Mind” debuted to critical acclaim in 2014 and remained in the Top 10 on the Folk DJ Charts for four months. Subsequently released in the U.K. and Ireland, it was chosen as one of the best country albums of 2016 by The Telegraph in London.
Johnson added, “We are delighted to showcase some of the finest artists from MerleFest lineups. 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.”
MerleFest 2017 will take place from April 27-30 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, N.C., where the MerleFest on the Road artists will be joined by Zac Brown Band, The Avett Brothers, The Del McCoury Band, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, Jorma Kaukonen, and many others at the MerleFest website ( provides additional information about the festival, including lineup and artists details and the opportunity to purchase tickets.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s