MerleFest, presented by Window World, is proud to announce the initial lineup for MerleFest 2018, which will be held April 26 - 29. The annual homecoming of musicians and music fans returns to the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The complete lineup for MerleFest 2018 will be announced over the next few months. Today's lineup announcement includes legendary artist Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Robert Earl Keen, The Devil Makes Three, Balsam Range and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra Ensemble, "Mission Temple Fireworks Revival" featuring Paul Thorn & Band, the Blind Boys of Alabama and the McCrary Sisters, and many more. The 2018 Midnight Jam presented by The Bluegrass Situation on Saturday, April 28th will start at 10:30 p.m. and run well past midnight, with special hosts Town Mountain and Jim Lauderdale. This very popular after-hours hootenanny gathers many performers from the festival for impromptu artistic collaborations and one-of-a-kind superstar jams that have become legendary in the festival’s history.
Kris Kristofferson – Kris Kristofferson is a three-time Grammy winner who has recorded 30 albums, including three with pals Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings as part of the Highwaymen. Kristofferson has spent three decades performing concerts all over the world and achieved remarkable success as a country songwriter at the start of the 1970s. His songs helped redefine country songwriting, and by 1987, it was estimated that more than 450 artists had recorded Kristofferson’s compositions. In 1977, he earned a Golden Globe for Best Actor and has acted in more than 70 films to date. Kristofferson is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and has been recognized with the Songwriter Hall of Fame’s prestigious Johnny Mercer Award, the Johnny Cash Visionary Award, BMI’s Icon Award, the Francis Preston Music Industry Award, the PEN Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Kristofferson is scheduled to play on Thursday.
Jamey Johnson – Truth and tradition. These non-negotiable principles serve as the bedrock of the music of eleven-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson, who is “one of the greatest country singers of our time,” according to The Washington Post. Indeed, the Alabama native has been acknowledged by many as country music’s north star, guiding us down a path of confession and conflict to a place of reflection and redemption. He has received tremendous praise from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and other publications, many of which have hailed his albums as masterpieces. His influential album, "That Lonesome Song", was certified platinum for 1 million in sales, and his innovative double album, "The Guitar Song", which debuted at No. 1 on the country album charts, received a gold certification. In 2012, he released a Grammy-nominated project honoring one of his heroes, Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran. He is one of only a few people in the history of country music to win two Song of the Year Awards – for “Give It Away” and “In Color" – from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. He has written singles for George Strait, Trace Adkins, James Otto, Joe Nichols and others. Johnson is scheduled to play on Friday.
“Today, MerleFest is proud to announce more than 75 artists who are part of the festival’s 2018 lineup, commemorating the 31st year of the festival. MerleFest welcomes back five special artists that have played all 31 years: Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, Joe Smothers, and Jack Lawrence. The initial lineup reflects the musical diversity and quality of performers who are the hallmark of the festival,” says Steve Johnson, MerleFest Artist Relations Manager. 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 initial lineup includes:
Aaron Burdett, Alberti Flea Circus, Andrew Collins Trio, Andy May, Ari Eisinger, Ashley Heath and Her Heathens, Banknotes, Bill Mathis, Bob Hill, Bryan Sutton, Brynmor, Cane Mill Road, Cardboard Fox, Carol Rifkin, Jeanette Queen, Mark Queen, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Charles Welch, Cicada Rhythm, David Holt and Josh Goforth, Dead Horses, Donna the Buffalo, Doolin, Elephant Sessions, Erin Harpe, Flatland Harmony Experiment, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Fireside Collective, Gunner & Smith, Hannah Shira Naiman, Happy Traum, Horsemen Let's Ride, Hubby Jenkins, Hummingbird Crossing, Jack Lawrence, Jayme Stone's Folklife, Jeanette Williams Band, Jeff Little Trio, Jeffrey Foucault, Jody Carroll, Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, Joe Smothers, Junior Appalachian Musicians Band, Laura Boosinger & The Midnight Plowboys, Lauren and Lane, Lindsay Lou, Lillian Chase, The Lonesome Ace Stringband, Lori King and Junction 63, Mark Bumgarner, Mike Aiken Band, Mitch Greenhill, My Bubba, The Note Ropers, Nu-Blu, Pete & Joan Wernick, Peter Rowan, Piper Jones, The Po Ramblin’ Boys, Richard Ray Farrell, Richie and Rosie, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Robin and Linda Williams, Rosie & the Riveters, Roy Book Binder, Sam Bush Band, Sarah Jane Scouten, Savannah Smith and Southern Soul, Scythian, Sideline, Smitty and the JumpStarters, Steve and Ruth Smith, String Madness, T. Michael Coleman Band, Ted Olson, Tennessee Jed Fisher, Terry Baucom's Dukes of Drive, The Barefoot Movement, The BattleAxe Band, The East Pointers, The Hackwells, The InterACTive Theatre of Jef, The Kruger Brothers, The Lang Sisters, The Local Boys, The Lonely Heartstring Band, The Mastersons, The Midatlantic, The New River Drifters, The Waybacks, The Wildmans, Susana and Timmy Abell, Tony Williamson Band, Unspoken Tradition, Virginia Hollow, The Way Down Wanderers, Wayland, Wayne Henderson, Wesley Bright & The Honeytones, and Whitewater Bluegrass Company.
Additional performers for MerleFest 2018 will be announced in the coming months. The lineup and performance schedule is accessible via MerleFest.org/lineup.
Tickets for next year’s festival, as well as the Midnight Jam, go on sale at noon (EST) November 14, 2017, 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 14 to February 18, 2018 and 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.
MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson, the son of the late American music legend Doc 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, 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.