All posts in 2013 MerleFest

Guide to MerleFest

MerleFest Group

It is difficult to put into words what MerleFest is and what the four days around the last weekend in April are all about, but here goes….

This year we get to enjoy again what many people consider to be the best outdoor Bluegrass/ Americana music festival in the world. Held annually on the campus of Wilkes Community College (Harvard on the Yadkin, as the locals call it), the festival that began on the back of a flatbed truck in 1988 has evolved into a campus wide, multi-stage music extravaganza. The festival is held in honor of Merle Watson, the deceased son of Doc Watson who was killed in a farming accident. Merle was a devoted musician who loved to play the guitar with Doc. For more information on Merle and the history of the festival, please visit

Read more below the break!

MerleFest Mobile App

MerleFestWILKESBORO, N.C. (March 19, 2013) —

With the introduction of a free new mobile app, MerleFest, presented by Lowe’s, just got even easier to plan! The MerleFest mobile app is available for download through a link, available at, that goes directly to the app store.

The app, being offered at no charge to users, will provide the MerleFest lineup and schedule, artist biographies, map, announcements, social media links and more. The app is compatible with Android and iOS platforms.

The MerleFest app was designed especially for the four-day event, an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans that will once again take place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

“MerleFest established this app to provide a better customer experience,” said Ted Hagaman, festival director. “Our hope is that the app will offer an easy way for festival goers to have immediate access to schedules and artist information without having to carry a program with them.”

A bonus for MerleFest fans: once downloaded, the app will be fully functional without having connection to phone service.

“MerleFest fans are encouraged to download the app before the festival for a couple of reasons,” explained Hagaman. “Downloading the app ahead of the festival will allow fans time to use the lineup, schedule and artist biographies to plan their itinerary for the event. With more than 90 artists performing on 14 stages, it is impossible to see all there is to see. We recommend our guests do some homework ahead of time so they catch all of their “must see” performances.”

Fans can even plan their festival meals in advance. On the MerleFest website – in the “Vendor” section under “food menus” – music fans can preview their many food options onsite!


Additionally, there are Wi-Fi hotspots around the campus and inside the buildings that are open during MerleFest.

Tickets for MerleFest can be purchased at or by calling 1-800-343-7857. Additional details about this year’s festival lineup and other MerleFest information can also be found at the website.


Special Tributes to Doc Watson

MerleFest 2013 Featured Special Tributes to Doc Watson

Saturday evening all-star tribute among the many ways that the 2013 festival celebrated the life and music of the late Doc Watson.

When MerleFest, presented by Lowe’s on April 25-28, 2013, kicked off, it was a bittersweet moment. The four-day event, an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans, once again took place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. But for the first time in its 26 years, MerleFest took place without beloved music icon Doc Watson, who passed away on May 29, 2012.

“From the beginning, Doc Watson has been the artistic center of this festival,” says Ted Hagaman, director of the festival. “So for MerleFest 2013, we will come together as a family to pay special tribute to the man and the musician who meant so much to us all.”

In fact, one of the most talked-about events of the festival was Saturday evening’s Celebration Jam. The Jam was hosted by Sam Bush and featured many of Doc’s closest musician friends as they told stories and played some of Doc’s favorites tunes. The Jam’s core band consisted of Sam Bush (mandolin/fiddle), Jeff Little (piano), T. Michael Coleman (bass), Jack Lawrence (guitar), Bryan Sutton (guitar) and David Holt (banjo.)

“No matter if it was Carnegie Hall in New York City, a packed theater in Tokyo, Japan, a venue in Southern France, or on a flatbed truck somewhere in Georgia, Doc was always just Doc,” said Coleman. “No pretense, no inflated ego, and no set list. He invited the audience into his living room, and they felt right at home.”

“Doc personified the 3 T’s: tone, taste and timing. Getting to play alongside him at the past 25 MerleFests has been a true privilege and a lesson in how it’s done,” agreed Bush. “He was a musical mentor and a really good friend to me. It’s an honor to have known Doc, RosaLee and Merle.”

Additionally, the life and music of Doc Watson was honored in other ways during the festival:

• A special section in the MerleFest program (20,000 copies given free) gave tribute to Doc, with quotes and remembrances from fellow artists and friends;

• Video vignettes throughout the festival of Doc, which included videos of him performing, talking about his family, telling stories, etc.;

• Throughout the weekend, artists reminisced about Doc and the impact he had on them;

• A new display was introduced in Lowe’s Hall with a bust of Doc and memorabilia of his life and career.

• A student emergency fund in Doc Watson’s honor was announced at Wilkes Community College. This fund will be used for student emergency needs, to allow students to continue their education.

“Although I learned from many of the old timers, Doc was the main musical mentor in my life,” said Holt. “I was always struck by his ability to bring an older style of music to a modern audience. As a musician he deeply influenced my sense of timing and tone. I marveled at the way the fingers of his right hand danced on the strings. He never just plodded through a tune, but rather brought it completely to life every time he played it.”

Tickets for MerleFest can be purchased at or by calling 1-800-343-7857.  Additional details about this year’s festival lineup and other MerleFest information can also be found at the website.

The “My Friend Merle” set at MerleFest 25 featured (left to right) Jeff Little, Richard Watson, Bob Hill, David Holt, T. Michael Coleman, Doc Watson, Mitch Greenhill, Sam Bush, John Cowan and Joe Smother.

2012 Merlefest: Interview with Mule Ferguson


Mule Ferguson tells us how the first Merlefest started and what things led to it being a year event!”