Ten Fresh Faces You Can’t Miss at MerleFest 2018
WILKESBORO, N.C. (March 6, 2018) – For 30 years, MerleFest, presented by Window World, has been known for discovering new talent in American roots music. From Old Crow Medicine Show to Gillian Welch, the Avett Brothers to Tift Merritt, many artists’ careers blossom after their breakout performances at MerleFest, where outstanding talent enthralls the festival’s many music enthusiasts. This year’s celebration, slated for April 26-29, will introduce what Steve Johnson, MerleFest’s Artist Relations Manager, dubs “talent discoveries” made during his travels around the globe this past year. Out of MerleFest’s diverse roster, Johnson calls ten of these innovative “must-see” artists who will perform at MerleFest 2018.
Band Competition Tradition Continues
Wesley Bright and The Honeytones – Wesley Bright & The Honeytones are a soul band from the funky rust belt town of Akron, OH. Although he’s only been on the scene for several years, Wesley has grown to be a regional favorite amongst true soul-lovers and vinyl collectors. As a vocalist, he is quoted to be a honey-voiced frontman who’s got the pipes and the moves to keep the crowd going all night.Backed by The Honeytones, Wesley is stepping out on his own to create a new soul sound that bridges the gap between classic soul and the modern sound. Being compared to greats like Al Green and Otis Redding, there is something really show stopping about him, and his way of getting the whole crowd to sing and dance together has earned him the reputation of a true dynamo on stage! Wesley Bright and The Honeytones play Sunday afternoon on the Americana Stage.
Cicada Rhythm – Born and raised in Georgia, this talented pair imitates and modernizes folk music to a rejuvenating degree. Their sound exhibits skilled and articulate guitar picking honed in the dive bars of Atlanta over rolling Julliard-trained bass lines. Expect chilling harmonies, unbridled enthusiasm, some wholesome tunes and a sincere performance. Cicada Rhythm will play Friday morning at the Hillside Stage, Saturday morning on the Americana Stage, and that night at the Cabin Stage.
Doolin’ – Doolin’ is France’s premiere Celtic band whose name derives from the little village of musical fame in south-west Ireland. Born in 2005 from an encounter between six accomplished musicians, from its inception Doolin’ perfected a mixture of novel musical genres. Whilst some of the band were immersed in the world of traditional Irish music, and others were active in the jazz scene or in the pop rock wave of the 80s and 90s, they found a common love in traditional Irish music. From ballads to furiously fast jigs, from their own compositions to traditional tunes, Doolin’ offers a rich palette of sound. Their self-titled debut for Compass Records is one of the freshest and most exciting Celtic records of the year. Natives of Toulouse, Doolin’ worked with legendary Irish guitarist John Doyle in the producer’s chair to achieve a sound uniquely their own—deeply rooted in traditional Celtic music but wonderfully flavored with French chanson, American roots music and even hip hop straight from the streets of Paris. Ireland has produced a great number of exceptionally talented groups – Dervish, Altan, Lúnasa, to name but a few, but bands have also formed throughout the world to celebrate Irish music. Doolin’ forms an integral part of this movement of renewal and is one of its most promising protagonists. From the intimate atmosphere of an Irish pub to the spectacle of the international concert stage, this sextet has been support act to major names such as Altan, Kevin Burke, Martin Hayes and Mairtín O’Connor. But they have also toured heavily as a headline and festival act with appearances like Celtic Legends and the Tall Ships Festival. Inspired by the purest tradition, Doolin’ combines instrumentals, vocals and original compositions in a resolutely modern style. The arrangements, at times taking their inspiration from pop-rock, folk, jazz, funk or even rap (and always in the best taste), emit great energy. That’s Doolin’ – Irish music with a French touch! Catch Doolin on Saturday morning at the Hillside Stage, Saturday afternoon at the Americana Stage, and then at the Dance Stage.
Lindsay Lou – Hailing from the Great Lakes State of Michigan and now transplanted to Nashville, TN, Lindsay Lou has been touring internationally behind 2015’s “Ionia” playing some of the most prestigious festivals across the US, Canada, UK & Europe and garnering rave reviews for her performances on stage and in studio. Named one of NPR Music’s best live performance sessions of 2015 Lindsay is often referenced in the same breath as Lake Street Dive and The Punch Brothers, her singing floats over the instrumental mastery and deep groove of her band with dynamics that range from a lullaby to a battle cry. In the words of David Grier, “Phrasing, tone, emotion, it’s all there. Effortless seemingly. Simply mesmerizing. Riveting! Don’t miss the musical force that is Lindsay Lou.” Lindsay’s brand new 2018 full-length “Southland” (out now) is a collection of songs examining the range of emotions and complex themes of our changing times; delivered with soulfully fierce intensity and tender intimacy that demands your attention. Lindsay Lou plays Friday afternoon at the Hillside Stage and that evening at the Creekside stage.
My bubba – Scandinavian folk duo My bubba make soft, soulful music that is as playful as it is powerful. Together, My Larsdotter and Bubba Tomasdottir have toured with Damien Rice, co-written music with Matthew E. White, recorded with Noah Georgeson and stepped on Bryan Adams’ toes. Literally. My bubba’s latest releases are Third Man Blue Series single ‘Gone’ and ‘My bubba & Elsa Sjunger Visor // Sing Swedish Songs’ – a personal and intimate collection of the duo’s favorite Swedish folk songs. My bubba plays Saturday morning at the Watson Stage and that evening at the Americana Stage.
Sarah Jane Scouten – With flavours of Lucinda Williams, Nanci Griffiths and Iris Dement and a wealth of early country music, the two-time Canadian Folk Music Award nominee and recent Western Canadian Music Award nominee’s songs are faithful to a long-standing folk music tradition. Often spilling over into modern themes that are outspoken and edgy, her songwriting tackles issues from poverty and midwifery to tongue-in-cheek heartache songs and unabashed Canadiana. A traditionalist at heart, Sarah Jane Scouten shows her signature flair for the roots of roots music. With respect for these roots, she writes from her own perspective, playing with style to create her own distinct voice. This songwriter is known for hitting hard and close to home, then laughing it off. Sarah Jane Scouten plays on Friday morning at the Austin Stage and that afternoon at the Walker Center.
The Andrew Collins Trio – The mercurial, 5x JUNO-nominated/7x Canadian Folk Music Award winning mando maestro Andrew Collins finds himself – through no actual fault of his own – at the epicentre of Canada’s burgeoning acoustic/roots music scene. He didn’t invent it – but he’s certainly a major contributor, having co-founded noteworthy Canadian bands, Creaking String Quartet, the Foggy Hogtown Boys and, more recently, The Andrew Collins Trio. Collins, who’s comfortable on mandolin, fiddle, guitar, mandola, mandocello and vocals is joined by Mike Mezzatesta (guitar, mandolin, fiddle and mandola) and James McEleney (bass, mandocello and vocals) as they showcase their popular collision of bluegrass, folk, jazz, classical and swing. The Andrew Collins Trio plays Friday afternoon at the Americana Stage and Saturday morning at the Watson Stage.
The East Pointers – The East Pointers – fiddler/singer Tim Chaisson, banjoist Koady Chaisson and guitarist Jake Charron – have spent the last two years touring Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia in support of their JUNO Award winning album, ‘Secret Victory’. In 2016, they won ‘Touring Artist of the Year’ at the Music PEI Awards and ‘Ensemble of the Year’ at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Their highly anticipated sophomore album, ‘What We Leave Behind’, produced by songwriter/ producer Gordie Sampson, was released September 29, 2017. ‘What We Leave Behind’ reflects on the traditions of Canadian Celtic music, where it comes from, and what it means to the people, but also strides in new directions. With a captivating balance between their traditional-sounding instrumental tunes, and catchy radio-ready songs, The East Pointers reach out with open arms to a wide range of listeners, inviting them to discover a new love of folk music. The East Pointers play Friday afternoon at the Americana Stage, followed by a performance at the Dance Stage.
The Lonesome Ace Stringband – Since 2008, the Lonesome Ace Stringband has been cultivating and performing a big repertoire of tunes and songs that draw from the huge well of traditional American and Canadian music, as well as creating original material that reflects their powerful dynamics and common vision as a group.
With two albums of their favorite traditional material under their belts, the trio has just launched a third record in January 2018. This is their first record of original material and marks a strong new direction for the band’s creative process.
Get ready for an old-time stringband with bluegrass chops that plays really good music. This seasoned trio connects to the heart and ear through their shared love of Appalachian mountain music. With haunting melodies, buzzing vocal harmonies and driving rhythm, you’ll soon be drawn into the groove of the Lonesome Ace Stringband! Catch them on Friday at the Creekside Stage, Mayes Pit, and Americana Stage, and Saturday afternoon on the Traditional Stage.
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys – In just a few short years as a band, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys have made a name for themselves as one of the premier traditional bluegrass acts of their generation. Their approach to the music harkens back to the first generation artists with great enthusiasm and determination. Blending overlooked vintage material and original compositions, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys will light a fire under your seat every time they hit the stage. Recent accolades include a nomination for the 2017 IBMA Momentum Band of The Year Award. The boys have also teamed up with WBCM- Radio Bristol to resurrect the legendary Farm & Fun Time Noon Show. Following in the footsteps of bluegrass music’s first generation, you can tune in to Radio Bristol every Friday at 12 noon Eastern for a live dose of The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys. Their newest album from Random Records is titled “Back To The Mountains.” Preserving the roots of bluegrass music, while adding a healthy branch to the tree is The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys’ logic. Take your heart medicine and come to the show. The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys will play the Hillside Stage on Friday, followed by a performance at the Dance Stage.
Many new acts will face off at this year’s MerleFest Band Competition, which will take place on the Plaza Stage on Saturday. MerleFest 2018 invited talented bands from across the country to perform for 15 minutes each in the band competition. The competition is sponsored by the Lloyd Johnson Foundation and will be hosted by Mark Bumgarner with judges The Local Boys and other special guests. The band contest winner will be announced following the last performance and will perform on the Watson Stage on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Created in memory of Lloyd Johnson and his musical spirit, the non-profit provides education and career advancement opportunities to grow and nurture musicians in Western North Carolina and beyond.
The bands participating in this year’s competition are Ashley Heath and Her Heathens, Brynmor, Flatland Harmony Experiment, Horsemen Let’s Ride, Lauren & Lane, The Hackwells, The Lang Sisters, The Midatlantic, The New River Drifters, The Wildmans, Virginia Hollow, and Canadian band Hummingbird Crossing.
MerleFest’s lineup reflects the diversity and quality of performers who are the hallmark of the festival. MerleFest is known for its unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented music from the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, Americana, blues, country, Celtic, Cajun, cowboy, zydeco, rock and many other styles that the late Doc Watson referred to as “traditional plus.”
The complete 2018 lineup may be viewed at www.MerleFest.org/lineup and is now available on the MerleFest mobile app.
Tickets for the festival may be purchased at www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. MerleFest offers a tiered pricing structure and encourages fans to take advantage of the early bird discount. Early Bird Tier 2 tickets from February 19 to April 25. Tickets will be sold using Tier 3 pricing at the gate during the festival.
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 has become 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.
For more information, visit www.MerleFest.org.