MerleFest Crowd Shot

Crowds will return to the Wilkes Community College campus on April 23-26 for MerleFest.

With the first performance still two months from today, the artist lineup for MerleFest 2015 has been finalized, said Ted Hagaman, festival director.

One final artist announcement remains on March 31, but Hagaman said all artist contracts have been signed.

“We have one or two bands left, but most all of our artist announcements have been made for this year and everything has been firmed up,” he said.

Hagaman said this year’s artist recruitment process maintained traditions established by the late Doc Watson, who helped start the festival in 1988 and was its musical host until his death about three years ago.

“We go with a term that Doc Watson made famous several years ago,” Hagaman said.  “‘He was asked what kind of music do you play at Merlefest?’ and Doc said, ‘traditional plus.’”

For Watson and his friends, Hagaman said, “traditional plus” was traditional Appalachian music, plus anything they felt like playing.

“And that’s about how we go about making up our schedule,” he explained.

Hagaman said the lineup for this year’s MerleFest, which is April 23-26, includes bluegrass, Americana, country, rock, Celtic and Cajun/zydeco musicians.

“We try to have a good balance there so we have something for everyone,” he said. “And it works. We’re very pleased with the lineup we have.”

The 2015 lineup is a mixture of repeat acts and newcomers, Hagaman said, pointing to notable first-time acts Dwight Yoakam, the Marshall Tucker Band, Lee Ann Womack and Trampled By Turtles.

He said MerleFest organizers are also excited to welcome back the Avett Brothers, who many consider to be a festival highlight.

“We’re real excited about having the Avetts here,” Hagaman said. “They feel like this is home, and we’re glad they feel that way. They always bring a big crowd with them and are a fan favorite.”

Tickets went on sale Nov. 11, and Hagaman said sales have been strong.

“We’re pleased with preliminary ticket sales,” he said. “That tells us our fans are pleased and looking forward to another festival.”

MerleFest app and schedule

The 2015 MerleFest app will be released in early March, Hagaman said. He said the free app contains performance schedules by stage, as well as biographical information on each artist.

“People love to sit down and start planning each day, and decide on what acts they’re going to catch,” Hagaman said.

He said that printable schedules will also be posted on the website March 1.

Hagaman said MerleFest will welcome North Wilkesboro-based Window World as the presenting sponsor for this year’s festival.  

“We’re very excited about having them on board this year,” Hagaman said. “Especially since they’re locally-based. They’re a great community partner.”

Also coming

This year’s lineup at MerleFest also includes Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Hot Rize, Lee Ann Womack, North Mississippi Allstars, Del McCoury Band, Earls of Leicester, Robert Earl Keen, Steep Canyon Rangers, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, Gibson Brothers, Paul Thorn, Trampled By Turtles, Sam Bush Band, The Kruger Brothers, The Waybacks,

Scythian, Sutton, Holt and Coleman, Peter Rowan, Richard Watson, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Jim Lauderdale, Shannon Whitworth, Donna the Buffalo, Chatham County Line, Del Barber, Cahalen Morrison and Eli West, Blue Highway, Baillie and The Boys,

Spinney Brothers, South Carolina Broadcasters, The Larry Stephenson Band, Honeycutters, David Mayfield Parade, New Country Rehab, Johnnyswim, Bob Hill, Blind Boy Paxton, Bill Mize, Jim Avett, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, Andy May, Banknotes, Two Man Gentlemen Band, Stray Birds, Ragbirds, Jason Lee McKinney Band, Honey Dewdrops,

Black Lillies, Black Cadillac, Roy Book Binder, Grassifieds, Pete and Joan Wernick, Moore Brothers Band, Mipso, Mark Johnson, Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road Band, Logan Brill, Joe West & The Santa Fe Revue, Jesse and Noah Bellamy, Jeff Little Trio, Jack Lawrence, Front Country, Emory Lester, Doug MacLeod, Carol Rifkin and Friends,

Brandon Whyde and The Devil’s Keep, Blu-Bop, Bill Mathis, William Ritter and Sarah Ogletree, Wayne Henderson, Veronika Jackson, Brushy Rides, Andy Buckner, Unspoken Tradition, Underhill Rose, Rev. Robert Jones, Tut Taylor, Tony Williamson, ToneBlazers, Time Sawyer, Sheets Family Band, Local Boys, InterACTive Theater of Jef, Gravy Boys,

Uncle Ted White, Steve and Ruth Smith, Sons Of The South Bluegrass Band, Mountain Park Old Time Band, Sigmon Stringers, Mitch Greenhill, Locust Honey String Band, String Madness, Lee Bidgood, Laura Boosinger, Joe Smothers, Happy Traum, Loose Strings Band, Glenn Bannerman, Farmer Jason, Charles Welch,

Bobby Miller and The Virginia Dare Devils, Blue Ridge Heritage Cloggers, Bethel University, Bluegrass Bands, BearWallow Bluegrass Band, Bayou Diesel, Whitewater Ramble, Bandit’s Roost, Alberti Flea Circus and Kiran Singh.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit

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