The return of Willie Nelson & Family and Alison Krauss highlights the initial musical lineup for MerleFest 2020, set for April 23-26 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro.

Tuesday’s lineup announcement also includes  the Jerry Douglas Band, Sam Bush, Jim Lauderdale, Kruger Brothers, the Waybacks, Scythian, Donna the Buffalo, Peter Rowan and the Free Mexican Airforce, Tommy Emmanuel, Shinyribs, Charley Crockett, Darrell Scott, the Steel Wheels, Robbie Fulks, Amythyst Kiah, Cordovas, Alison Brown, Andy May, “B” Townes, Banknotes, Bill & the Belles, Bryan Sutton, Carol Rifkin, Charles Welch, Chatham Rabbits, Che Apalache, the Cleverlys, and Creole Stomp with Dennis Stroughmatt.

The initial lineup also includes Presley Barker of Traphill, 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, Ken Crouse, Laura Boosinger, the Local Boys, Los Texmaniacs, Mark Bumgarner, Mary Flower, Mitch Greenhill, Pete & Joan Wernick, Piedmont Bluz, 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.

“For over 30 years, one of the major factors that has built and sustained MerleFest has been the quality of the artists and performances that our guests see over the four-day festival,” said Ted Hagaman, festival director. “People truly feel that the festival is a great value and that is why music fans and families return year after year. We feel that the 2020 lineup again reflects the diversity and quality of performers, and we look forward to another successful festival in April.”

The complete lineup for MerleFest 2020, presented by Window World, will be announced over the next few months.

Tickets for next year’s festival go on sale Tuesday (today) and may be purchased at or by calling 1-800-343-7857. MerleFest offers a three-tiered pricing structure and encourages fans to take advantage of the extended early bird discount. Early Bird Tier 1 pricing is good until Feb. 16; Early Bird Tier 2 tickets are good from Feb. 17 to April 22. Remaining tickets will be sold at the gate during the festival.

Country superstar Willie Nelson made his only previous appearance at MerleFest in 2000. With a six-decade career and 200-plus albums, this iconic Texan is the creative genius behind “Crazy,” “Red Headed Stranger” and “Stardust.” Nelson has earned every conceivable award as a musician, author, actor, and activist.

With 27 wins, Alison Krauss is the female artist with the most Grammy Awards. She has also sold more than 12 million records to date.

Krauss has played at several MerleFests with longtime band Union Station, never missing a year from 1991 to 1997, then in 2002 and 2012. This will be her first time playing the festival as a solo artist.

She has recorded and toured with Nelson, whom she honored with a performance during the 2015 Gershwin Prize Tribute Concert. She will reunite with Nelson this summer on a co-headlining tour throughout North America.

Born in Champaign, Ill., Krauss has released 14 albums, including five solo, seven with Union Station, and the Robert Plant collaboration “Raising Sand,” which was certified platinum and won five Grammys, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year.

New for MerleFest 2020 is “The Patio at MerleFest.” This limited-ticket upgrade includes comfortable seating in a covered area with great views of the Watson and Cabin stages, access to the friends and family seating area (formerly named VIP), a deluxe air-conditioned mobile bathroom unit, snacks and beverages, and live video displays from the Watson and Cabin stages.

This year’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, in its 28th year, is open until Feb. 1. Enter online at or mail entries to MerleFest/CASC, P.O. Box 120, Wilkesboro, N.C. 28697. All entries received during October and November will receive an early-entry discount price of $25 per entry, while entries in December and January are $30. All lyrics must be written in English and no instrumental entries will be accepted.

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