by Ryan Snyder

Another stellar lineup at MerleFest

Another year, another round of one of North Carolina’s preeminent music festival. The late, great Merle Watson’s signature event in Wilkes County is back with another stellar lineup of the best artists in all of roots, folk, country and bluegrass music. Starting on Thursday, the weekend-long tobacco- and alcohol- free event kicks off with Washington, DC Celtic band Scythian (www. on the main stage. Amateur musicians should definitely bring their strings, as the Lounge, Plaza and Pickin’ Place offer open mics and open jams all weekend long. Thursday evening features some short-but-sweet sets by in-state celebrity Tift Merritt ( and the always exciting Sam Bush ( alongside Travis Tritt ( The latter highlights one of the great things about this festival, with so many talented artists performing together and taking their shows in directions they usually wouldn’t otherwise. On Friday, must-see sets include short afternoon shows by greats Peter Rowan and Tony Rice (who also performs later that evening with Mountain Heart) and up-and-comers the Lovell Sisters ( Merritt resurfaces on Saturday afternoon for a lengthier set, while the inimitable storyteller David Bromberg (www. performs with the Angel Band and does two solo sets. Renowned country artists Emmylou Harris ( and Linda Ronstadt (www. play Saturday and Sunday respectively. Bromberg also hosts the highly-anticipated midnight jam, featuring far too many artists to list here. Check out for ticketing info.

Gospel Great Gaither greets Greensboro

Even if you aren’t the religious type, there a few gospel acts that are worth seeing and Bill Gaither ( is one of them. The Gaither Vocal Band, along with a multitude of artists from his Homecoming project, traditionally feature the most talented musicians and singers in all of gospel music and few events have the ability to bring people together the way Gaither Homecoming concerts do. The Gaither Homecoming Tour has performed to packed houses worldwide and consistently ranked at the top of the list for most concerts tickets sold worldwide, in any music genre and they’ll be performing at the Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday. Their latest studio work, Lovin’ Life, won them a Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country, Bluegrass Gospel Album during the last ceremony. This is the eighth win overall for the Gaither Vocal Band and its predecessor, the Bill Gaither Trio. Among the artists scheduled to perform are the Collingsworth Family (, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (, Gordon Mote (, Janet Paschal (www., Lynda Randle (, Bekki Smith ( and Kevin Williams. The show starts at 6 p.m. and tickets come in at $17.50, $27.50 and $37.50.