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MerleFest adds three powerful names to lineup! – Tier 1 Early Bird Discount ends soon


MerleFest, presented by Window World and slated for April 28-May 1, 2016, is proud to announce three powerful new additions to the 2016 lineup: breakout Americana star Jason Isbell, legendary Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel and inspiring gospel songster Mike Farris and The Roseland Rhythm Revue.

These three new artists join over 100 other artists already announced, including John Prine, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dave Rawlings Machine, Brandi Carlile, The Wood Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers, Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Alison Brown, Doug Seegers and more! The four-day event, the largest roots and Americana music festival in the nation, takes place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in the heart of Appalachia. MerleFest continues the legacy of Doc Watson and is a benefit for the college. This homecoming of roots music artists and fans draws nearly 80,000 participants every year.


Alabama native Jason Isbell is having quite the year! His new album, “Something More Than Free,” was not only a chart topper, it was a chart redefiner, bringing in simultaneous No. 1 rankings in Billboard’s Rock, Country and Folk charts. Critically acclaimed by nearly everyone, Isbell took his place at the head of a new generation of country artists transforming the Nashville sound. The once lead-singer for famed alt-country band Drive By Truckers now has a solo career that can’t be stopped. Born in Green Hill, Ala., Isbell is undeniably inspired by the soul-tinged rock, country and blues produced in neighboring Muscle Shoals. As a lyricist, Jason is willing to tell the difficult stories, whether raw, introspective, messy or poetic. As an artist, he reveals his own vulnerabilities – his successes and failures – in which listeners might find kinship or perspective.

Tommy Emmanuel
Tommy Emmanuel

Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel is an accomplished fingerstyle player, frequently threading three different parts simultaneously into his material, operating as a one-man band that handles the melody, the supporting chords and the bass all at once. There ’s is a science to assembling the parts, and Emmanuel’s technical gift has earned him multiple awards and made him a Member of the Order of Australia, an honor bestowed by the Queen Elizabeth II in his homeland. But the average fan could listen without even considering the precision behind the work, focusing instead on the artful tension and release of Emmanuel’s melodies. A friend and follower of the late Chet Atkins – who christened Emmanuel a Certified Guitar Player, making him one of only five musicians to receive the C.G.P. distinction from the master – Tommy Emmanuel easily skates between musical styles, playing with blues, infusing Spanish tradition and exploring folk, making him the ultimate “traditional plus” artist.

Mike Farris and The Roseland Rhythm Review

Inspirational songwriter Mike Farris is a man who knows personal struggle and knows how to take life experiences and turn them into something beautiful. The 2007 recording by Mike Farris and The Roseland Rhythm Review, “Salvation in Lights,” was Farris’ first project after recovery. The year after the release, he won an Americana Music Award for New/Emerging Artist. His live performances at Bonnaroo, SxSW, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and others drew rave reviews. Revered artists like Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin and Marty Stuart were struck by his incomparable voice, and Mike opened shows for Patti LaBelle, Mavis Staples, Blind Boys of Alabama, Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby. He released his next album, “Shine For All The People,” in 2014, which won a Grammy Award in 2015 for Best Traditional Roots Gospel Album. Mike says, “There was a time when I carried all the songwriting on my shoulders, but then the ego gets in the way of what it should be. These days, I don’t have to write everything. I just open the door and these songs show up … songs I need to hear in my struggle; songs I know people need to hear in theirs.”

MerleFest has announced over 100 artists so far, and there are additional performers to be announced next month. The 2016 lineup is available online at www.MerleFest.org/lineup.

Early Bird Ticket Tier 1 Deadline – February 15, 2016

The deadline to take advantage of the Early Bird Tier 1 ticket discount is coming up on February 15. A three-tiered pricing structure is offered for MerleFest 2016. The Early Bird Tier 2 ticket discount will run from February 16, 2015, through April 22, 2015, and the third price tier will be gate pricing. Fans are encouraged to take advantage of the Tier 1 discount now. Tickets for MerleFest 2016 are now on sale and may be purchased at www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857.

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.