An initial MerleFest 2019 lineup that includes Wynonna Judd, the Earls of Leicester, Sam Bush, Tyler Childers, Peter Rowan, Keb’ Mo’ and about 70 more artists was announced Tuesday.
Tickets for the 32nd annual MerleFest, which is April 25-28 at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, went on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday (today).
As the daughter in the mother/daughter duo, "The Judds," magazine called Wynonna Judd “the greatest female country singer since Patsy Cline." Her number one hits included “Mama He’s Crazy,” “Why Not me,” “Grandpa, (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Ole’ Days)” and many others. Wynonna and the Big Noise, led by her husband/drummer/producer, Cactus Moser, released a debut album in 2016 with country, Americana, blues, soul and rock. Wynonna and the Big Noise will perform on the festival’s first (Thursday) night.
The Nashville-based Earls of Leicester was formed in 2013 to preserve and promote the music of bluegrass legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. It won a Grammy for “Best Bluegrass Album” and six awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Members are Barry Bales (bass, vocals), Shawn Camp (guitar, lead vocals), Charlie Cushman (banjo, guitars), Jerry Douglas (Dobro, vocals), Johnny Warren (fiddle, bass vocals) and Jeff White (mandolin, vocals). The band will perform on MerleFest’s third day (Saturday).
Sam Bush, a MerleFest mainstay, will perform on the festival’s third day this year. A DVD documentary telling the Kentucky musician’s full story, from teen fiddle champion to groundbreaking mandolinist, was recently released. Bush remains grounded in traditional bluegrass while simultaneously taking the music to new places. Sam Bush will perform at MerleFest on Saturday.
Peter Rowan’s singer-songwriter career spans over five decades, from his early years playing under the tutelage of Bill Monroe to his breakout as a solo musician and bandleader. Rowan’s diverse musical career has included rock, folk, bluegrass and “high lonesome” cowboy music projects. This MerleFest regular will appear with his band, the Free Mexican Air Force, on the festival’s last day, Sunday.
Tyler Childers will make his MerleFest debut on the festival’s second night (Friday). In 2017, the singer-songwriter released an album titled “Purpatory” with 10 songs about the people, landmarks and times of his childhood home of Lawrence County, Ky. Rolling Stone magazine called Childers the “21st century voice of Appalachia.”
Keb’ Mo’ is an award-winning singer, songwriter, guitarist and contemporary blues artist. His most recent studio project, TajMo, a collaboration with Taj Mahal, won the 2018 Grammy for “Best Contemporary Blues Album,” among other awards. Keb’ Mo’ will make his first appearance at MerleFest on the third day (Saturday) of the festival.
With more artists to be announced in coming months, the first round also includes Donna the Buffalo, Kruger Brothers, Wayne Henderson, Jim Lauderdale, Mark & Maggie O’Connor, T. Michael Coleman, American Aquarium, Andy May, Ana Egge & the Sentimentals, Aztec Sun, Banknotes, Bob Hill, Cane Mill Road, Carol Rifkin, Carolina Blue, Catfish Keith, Charles Welch, Chatham County Line, David LaMotte, Dirk Powell Band, Driftwood, Elephant Sessions, Elizabeth Cook, Ellis Dyson & the Shambles, Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys, Happy Traum, Irish Mythen, Jack Lawrence, Jeff Little Trio, Jess Morgan, Jim Avett, Joe Smothers, Jontavious Willis and Andrew Alli, Junior Brown, Junior Sisk, Larry Stephenson Band, Laura Boosinger, Lindi Ortega, Mark Bumgarner, Maybe April, Michaela Anne, Mile Twelve, Mitch Greenhill and String Madness, Nixon, Blevins, & Gage, Pete & Joan Wernick and Flexigrass, Presley Barker, Professor Whizzpop, Radney Foster, Roy Book Binder, Salt & Light, Scythian, Shane Hennessy, Si Kahn & the Looping Brothers, Steve Poltz, the Black Lillies, Gibson Brothers, Harris Brothers, t InterACTive Theatre of Jef, The Local Boys, Trailblazers, Waybacks, Todd Albright, Tom Feldmann, Tony Williamson, Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, Webb Wilder and Yarn.
Chatham County Line will host this year’s Midnight Jam, where many performers from the festival gather at the Walker Center for impromptu collaborations and jams. It starts at 10:30 p.m. on MerleFest’s second (Saturday) night and runs well past midnight. Midnight Jam ticket sales also began at 10 a.m. today.
“MerleFest continues its tradition of honoring the tried and true performers that our MerleFest fans have come to know and love… and adding to them some of the top traditional plus acts performing today,” said Lindsay Craven, MerleFest artist relations manager.
Craven said this first round of artists reflects the diversity and quality of performers who are the hallmark of the festival. MerleFest is known for its mix of traditional, roots-oriented music, including bluegrass, old-time, Americana, blues, country, Celtic, Cajun, cowboy, zydeco, rock and many other styles that the late Doc Watson referred to as “traditional plus.”
Early bird tier one tickets, the least expensive, are available at www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857 through Feb. 17. Early Bird Tier 2 tickets are sold from Feb. 18 to April 24. Tickets are also sold at the gate during the festival.
Details on volunteering at MerleFest are at http://merlefest.org/volunteer.