MerleFest organizers on Monday announced the addition of John Prine, Billy Strings, Colin Hay, Kelsey Waldon and Gangstagrass to the lineup for this year’s festival, which is April 23-26 at Wilkes Community College.
John Prine is known for writing and recording such classics as “Paradise,” “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone” and “Hello in There.” His songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Carly Simon, Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band and many others.
He is a two-time Grammy Award-winner, 2019 Songwriter’s Hall of Fame inductee and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member. His new album, “The Tree of Forgiveness,” was produced by Dave Cobb and recently debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200—a career-high chart position and sales week. Prine will perform Sunday afternoon at this year’s MerleFest and appeared at the festival in 1996 and 2016.
Billy Strings transcends tradition and genre with a high velocity, flat-picking guitar technique and intense, confessional songwriting. His second studio album, “Home,” features elements of punk, country, folk-rock and psychedelic exploration and is described as his bravest excursion thus far. Billy Strings will perform a Doc Watson tribute with Bryan Sutton on Friday evening and a set of his original music on Saturday afternoon at MerleFest 2020.
Colin Hay, born in Scotland and raised in Australia, is known to many as front man and songwriter for the 1980s pop band, Men at Work. Since Men at Work separated in 1985, Hay has toured the world with his own band and as a member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band while also releasing 13 albums. His music is frequently used on TV shows and in movies. He will perform Saturday evening during MerleFest 2020.
Kelsey Waldon’s music has been described as a mix of storytelling, high-lonesome sound and her emotive voice. Her new album is “White Noise/White Lines.” Waldon, a native of Monkey’s Eyebrow, Ky., has built a loyal following through frequent touring. On stage at the Grand Ole Opry, John Prine invited her to join his Oh Boy Records family. She will perform Sunday afternoon at MerleFest 2020.
Gangstagrass is best known as the Emmy-nominated makers of “Long Hard Times to Come,” the theme song of the FX drama, “Justified.” The band’s new live album is “Pocket Full of Fire,” with an Emmy-nominated blend of bluegrass and hip-hop. The live album is the follow-up to the group’s Billboard-charting 2015 release, “American Music.” Gangstagrass will perform Friday afternoon and evening at MerleFest 2020.
Artists already announced for the upcoming MerleFest include Willie Nelson & Family, Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas Band, Sam Bush, Jim Lauderdale, Kruger Brothers, Waybacks, Scythian, Donna the Buffalo, Peter Rowan and the Free Mexican Airforce, Tommy Emmanuel, Shinyribs, Charley Crockett, Darrell Scott, Steel Wheels, Robbie Fulks, Amythyst Kiah, Cordovas, Alison Brown, Andy May, Banknotes, Bill & The Belles, Bryan Sutton, Carol Rifkin, Charles Welch, Chatham Rabbits, Che Apalache, The Cleverlys, Creole Stomp with Dennis Stroughmatt, David Holt, Fireside Collective, Flattop, Happy Traum, Hogslop String Band, InterACTive Theatre of Jef, Irish Mythen, Iron Horse Bluegrass, Jack Lawrence, Jeff Little Trio, Jody Carroll, Joe Smothers, Laura Boosinger, Local Boys, Los Texmaniacs, Mark Bumgarner, Mary Flower, Mitch Greenhill, Pete & Joan Wernick, Piedmont Bluz, Presley Barker, Rev. Robert Jones, Roy Book Binder, Sierra Ferrell, String Madness, T. Michael Coleman, Tony Williamson, Wayne Henderson, The Moore Brothers, The Williams Brothers and Wyld Fern.
Window World is MerleFest’s presenting sponsor. Tickets may be purchased at www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. Tier 1 tickets may be purchased from Nov. 12 to Feb. 16; tier 2 tickets from Feb. 17 to April 22 and other tickets are sold at the gate during the festival.