MerleFest, presented by Window World, is proud to announce the next round of artist additions for MerleFest 2020, which will be held April 23-26. John Prine, Billy Strings, Colin Hay, Kelsey Waldon, and Gangstagrass will be joining the annual homecoming of musicians and music fans on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Today’s lineup announcement adds five great artists to MerleFest’s already stacked lineup: Willie Nelson & Family, Alison Krauss, 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, Creole Stomp with Dennis Stroughmatt, 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, Presley Barker, 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.
John Prine: A two-time Grammy-winner, John Prine is among the English language’s premier phrase-turners. Almost 50 years into a remarkable career that has drawn effusive praise from Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, Roger Waters, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and others who would know, Prine is a smiling, shuffling force for good. He is a 2019 Songwriter’s Hall of Fame inductee, a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member and a PEN New England Lyrics Award recipient whose classic debut album, simply titled John Prine, is recognized as part of the Recording Academy’s Grammy Hall of Fame and whose songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Carly Simon, Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band and many others. His critically acclaimed new album, The Tree of Forgiveness, was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and recently debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200—a career-high chart position and sales week for the legendary singer, songwriter, and performer. John Prine will perform on Sunday afternoon.
Billy Strings: Billy Strings has been hailed as the future of bluegrass, transcending tradition and genre with his high velocity, flat-picking guitar technique and intense, confessional songwriting. HOME, Strings’ remarkable second studio album, is undoubtedly the Michigan-born, Nashville-based artist’s bravest excursion thus far, completely rewiring bluegrass with elements of punk, country, folk-rock, and genuine psychedelic exploration to fashion something altogether his own. Strings has infused the aesthetic with his own experiences and inspirations, adopting traditional sonic and lyrical idioms to confront contemporary social truths. With guest appearances from the likes of Jerry Douglas and Molly Tuttle and produced by Glenn Brown (Greensky Bluegrass, Marcus Miller), HOME is a landmark on Billy Strings’ ongoing creative journey, its fearless songs and freewheeling approach recasting string-based American music in his own inimitable image. Billy Strings will perform a Doc Watson tribute with Bryan Sutton on Friday evening and a set of his original music on Saturday afternoon.
Colin Hay: Scotland-born, Australian-raised Colin Hay won the world over as charismatic front-man and gifted songwriter of 1980s pop sensation Men at Work (“Down Under”, “Overkill”, “Who Can it Be Now?”). Since the original lineup’s separation in 1985, Colin Hay has crafted a successful solo career, releasing 13 beloved albums and touring the world with his own band and as a member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. The frequent use of his music in TV and film—including hit shows such as Scrubs (on which he has made several cameo appearances) and the critically-acclaimed soundtrack of Garden State—has proven the timeless appeal of his songs: quizzical, curious, cynical yet open-hearted. Colin Hay will perform on Saturday evening.
Kelsey Waldon: On her new album, White Noise/White Lines, Kelsey Waldon captures the rugged country sound of her touring band without sacrificing the intimacy of her songwriting. Waldon, a native of Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky, took an interest in singing, songwriting and playing guitar as a child. After moving to Nashville, she cultivated a loyal following through frequent touring. Her persistence paid off when, on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, John Prine invited Kelsey to join his Oh Boy Records family. Paste claimed that White Noise/White Lines is “easily the best songwriting of her career.” Rolling Stone said, “Waldon’s music is a mix of storytelling, that high-lonesome sound, and the dangerous chug of Waymore’s Outlaws, filtered through her fresh perspective and emotive voice…it’s no wonder Oh Boy snatched her up,” and NPR wrote about her “Kentucky sensibility and an old-school country voice and vibe. Kelsey Waldon will perform on Sunday afternoon.
Gangstagrass: Best known as the Emmy-nominated makers of “Long Hard Times to Come,” the theme song to the hit FX drama Justified, Gangstagrass is back with a new live album—Pocket Full of Fire—featuring its original Emmy-nominated blend of bluegrass/hip-hop. Performed by real hip-hop MCs and real bluegrass instrumentalists and produced by lead singer/guitarist Rench, the live album is the follow-up to the group’s Billboard-charting 2015 release American Music. Pocket Full of Fire peaked at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Charts, having charted for 19 weeks in 2019. Containing 12 cuts of both original and traditional music with a twist, Pocket Full of Fire solidifies Gangstagrass’s reputation as one of the must-see live acts in the country. As the late Elmore Leonard put it, “Rench and his friends have done nothing short of creating a new form of music.” Gangstagrass will perform Friday afternoon and evening.
Tickets for next year’s festival are on sale now and may be purchased at www.MerleFest.org 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 tickets may be purchased from November 12 to February 16, 2020; Early Bird Tier 2 tickets from February 17 to April 22. Remaining tickets will be sold at the gate during the festival.
MerleFest would also like to remind potential participants that the entry period for 2020’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is still open. Now in its 28th year, CASC is an extraordinary opportunity for songwriters to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of Nashville music industry professionals, under the direction of volunteer contest chairperson, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale. Aspiring songwriters may submit entries to the contest using the online entry form at MerleFest.org or by mailing entries to MerleFest/CASC, P.O. Box 120, Wilkesboro, NC, 28697. Entries received during December and January will require a $30 fee per entry. All lyrics must be written in English and no instrumental entries will be accepted. The deadline to enter is February 1, 2020.
About MerleFest: 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 traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including old-time, classic country, bluegrass, folk and gospel, and blues, and expanded to include Americana, classic 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. MerleFest is the primary fundraiser for the WCC Foundation, funding scholarships, capital projects, and other educational needs.
About Window World: Window World, headquartered in North Wilkesboro, N.C., is America’s largest replacement window and exterior remodeling company, with more than 200 locally-owned offices nationwide. Founded in 1995, the company sells and installs windows, siding, doors, and other exterior products, with a total of over 14 million windows sold to date. Window World is an ENERGY STAR partner, and its window products have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal for 10 consecutive years. Additionally, through its charitable foundation Window World Cares, the Window World family provides funding for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which honored the foundation with its Organizational Support Award in 2017. Since its inception in 2008, Window World Cares has raised over $7 million for St. Jude. Window World Inc. also supports the Veterans Airlift Command, a non-profit organization that facilitates free air transportation to wounded veterans and their families. For more information, visit www.WindowWorld.com or call 1-800 NEXT WINDOW. For home improvement and energy efficiency tips, décor ideas and more, follow Window World on Facebook and Twitter.