Margo Price, Sturgill Simpson, Jim Lauderdale, and Brittney Spencer are among the new additions confirmed for the 33rd MerleFest later this year. The annual gathering will take place from September 16-19 at Wilkes Community College, Wilkesboro, NC, and will benefit the college.
Others joining the already formidable line-up for this year’s event include Shovels & Rope, Amythyst Kiah, Balsam Range, John Cowan, Peter Rowan’s Free Mexican Air Force with Los Texmaniacs, and Yasmin Williams. Others on the bill for the roots, blues, country, and Americana celebration include Tedeschi Trucks, Mavis Staples, LeAnn Rimes, and Melissa Etheridge.
Tickets for MerleFest 2021 will go on sale on June 10, which is also the date on which more artists will be added to the line-up. The festival will also feature the 29th year of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest (CASC), chaired by Lauderdale and featuring a panel of professional songwriters. Open since April 15 and running until June 15 for a $30 entry fee, the contest is split into bluegrass, general, gospel, and country categories. The top three entrants in each genre will be chosen at the festival.
MerleFest will also feature children’s activities, vendors, nature walks and the traditional Late Night Jam, which takes place on Saturday night (September 18) from 10:30pm until 12:30am at Wilkes Community College’s 1,100-seat Walker Center.
MerleFest was founded in 1988 to honor the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of bluegrass, folk, and country giant Doc Watson. Merle, also a musician who recorded extensively with his father for some 20 years from 1965, died in a tragic accident at the age of just 35, in 1985.
The much-loved festival describes itself as “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.”