Front Row Focus | Festival Preview: MerleFest (Wilkesboro, NC April 28 - May 1, 2016)

Festival Preview: MerleFest (Wilkesboro, NC April 28 - May 1, 2016)

March 04, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

FESTIVAL:  MerleFest

Venue:  Wilkes Community College, Wilkesboro, NC

Date:  April 28 - May 1, 2016

MerleFest Website:




As stated on the MerleFest website by none other than the late, great Doc Watson himself...

"When Merle and I started out we called our music ‘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’.”


The Wood Brothers 2015-06-25 (Pisgah Brewing)The Wood Brothers © Copyright David J. Simchock Founded in 1988 in memory of Eddy Merle Watson, the son of the late Doc Watson, MerleFest is even more than "music, moments, and memories", as it also serves as a fund-raiser for the Wilkes Community College Endowment Corporation, providing dollars for scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs. So, not only do artists and fans gather every early spring to celebrate the "3 Ms", but it's all done to support a worthy cause. What better and more enjoyable way to do that than through the rich musical vibes found in the mountains of North Carolina?

Based in the heart of Appalachia, spanning four days and 13 stages, the 2016 line-up is packed from start to finish with artists tapping into the "traditional plus" styles that are common to MerleFest and to the Blue Ridge Mountains (and beyond in many cases), including representations of Americana, country, blues, rock and a mix of other genres.

At the top of the bill are national / international artists such as the John Prine, Jason Isbell, Old Crow Medicine Show, Brandi Carlile and the Dave Rawlings Machine, but like many festivals these days fans are sure to leave buzzing about a few emerging artists that weren't even on their radar prior to their arrival in Wilkesboro. Be on the look-out for WNC local talent such as Zoe & Cloyd and Tellico, both out of Asheville, as well as visiting ensembles from further afar, such as High Plains Jamboree, hailing from Austin, Texas. 

Check out the full MerleFest line-up and schedule HERE.

Old Crow Medicine Show Old Crow Medicine Show © Copyright David J. Simchock

As has always been the case since 1988, it's going to be quite a celebration. Tickets are available either as 4-Day General Admission or Reserved Seating (at the Watson Stage), a three-day option (Fri - Sun), or single day for each of the four days.  


In addition to all of the music, there are plenty of Things To Do at MerleFest, and there is also a Songwriting Contest.

Got questions about MerleFest?  Check out the Information Section of the website.

Want to get involved as a volunteer? CLICK HERE

Front Row Focus hopes to see you at MerleFest this year, and to being part of the music, the moments, and the memories.

Dave Rawlings Machine Dave Rawlings Machine © Copyright David J. Simchock


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