Feb. 2, 2015. MerleFest, presented by Window World and slated for April 23-26, has announced Dwight Yoakam, Steep Canyon Rangers and Shannon Whitworth as part of the music festival’s lineup.
The four-day event, an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans, will take place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. MerleFest is known for its unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented music from the Appalachian region, 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.”
Few entertainers have attained the iconic status of Dwight Yoakam. It was suggested that the Kentucky-born, Ohio-raised Yoakam was too country for Nashville when he first sought out his musical fortune in the mid-‘80s, but the truth is his music has always been too unique, too ruggedly individualistic to fit neatly into any one box. He has taken his influences and filtered them into his own potent blend of country and rock that honors his musical predecessors and yet creates something beautifully new. Yoakam has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide, placing him in an elite cadre of global superstars. He has 12 gold albums and nine platinum or multi-platinum albums, including the triple-platinum “This Time.” Five of those albums have topped Billboard’s Country Albums chart with another 14 landing in the Top 10. More than 30 singles have charted, with 22 going Top 20. He has won two Grammys and earned a staggering 21 nominations. Yoakam’s latest album, “3 Pears,” exemplifies his ability to incorporate multiple, competing influences into a piece of cohesive art. It balances his country core with a fiercely independent embrace of rock, Americana, pop and soul.
Steep Canyon Rangers are living, picking proof that bluegrass music can adapt to its times without losing its history and that artistry plus dedication can launch a major career. In just over 10 years (a short spell in bluegrass), this six-piece band has graduated from stairwell jams at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to America’s greatest stages, including the Grand Ole Opry and a national tour with Grammy and Emmy-winning actor/comedian and banjo player Steve Martin. SCR won a Grammy of their own in 2013 for Best Bluegrass Album for “Nobody Knows You.” The four founding Rangers – Woody Platt (lead vocals, guitar), Mike Guggino (mandolin), Charles R. Humphrey III (bass) and Graham Sharp (banjo) – added fiddler Nicky Sanders in 2007 and drummer Mike Ashworth in 2013. The band is known for their enthralling, good-timing live shows at venues that run the gamut from bluegrass and Americana festivals to major international music events and rock venues on the jam band circuit.
Banjo-wielding songstress Shannon Whitworth has attracted international attention with her passionate presence and a talent that is evident within moments of taking the stage. Whitworth’s swoon-inducing style can be found in both her 2007 solo debut, “No Expectations,” and in 2009’s critically-acclaimed “Water Bound.” Whitworth’s latest release, “High Tide,” charts new waters. Just as her music stems from Appalachian roots but sheds its traditional skin at the door, “High Tide” begins with a journey to the sea that takes rest stops in reverb-drenched jazz and indie rock along the way, setting the mood for a tight but playful expedition.
“We are incredibly excited to have Dwight Yoakam make his first appearance at MerleFest,” said Steve Johnson, artist relations manager for MerleFest. “He is known for covering everything from bluegrass to country to pop and is a perfect example of ‘traditional plus’ music. Mix in the Americana and bluegrass sounds of the Steep Canyon Rangers along with Shannon Whitworth and our Sunday lineup is going to be an outstanding day of music.”
The current MerleFest 2015 lineup is viewable at www.MerleFest.org/lineup, and additional artists will be announced in the coming months.
Tickets for MerleFest 2015 are now on sale and may be purchased at www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. A three-tiered pricing structure is offered for MerleFest 2015: an Early Bird Tier 1 ticket discount is available through Feb. 15, an Early Bird Tier 2 ticket discount will run from Feb. 16, through April 22, and the third price tier will be gate pricing. Fans are encouraged to take advantage of the extended early bird discount.
MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of “traditional plus” music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles. The festival hosts a diverse mix of artists on its 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.