Over the past two decades, hundreds of young musicians have taken part in the Acoustic Kids programming at MerleFest presented by Window World. This year—the showcase’s 20th anniversary—young musicians from the MerleFest audience will once again step on stage and perform in Andy May’s Acoustic Kids Showcases during the festival which takes place in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on September 16-19. Some participants are just learning to play their instrument, some play just for the fun of it, and some go on to international renown. Young musicians must register online before August 4th to participate in Acoustic Kids. "Acoustic Kids looks forward to our 20th MerleFest this September!" said Lauren May, Acoustic Kids facilitator. "Each year, it is a joy to provide festival stage performance opportunities for young musicians attending the festival and support them in them sharing their talents with the MerleFest audience."
This year, Acoustic Kids guidelines are a little different than usual in order to make up for MerleFest's cancellation in 2020 and to accommodate the change in dates for 2021. Those who would have been age-eligible (16 or younger) for Acoustic Kids, MerleFest 2020, will be eligible for AK MerleFest 2021!
Their accompanists may be any age, and mixed-age groups are accepted—including family bands. Music teachers often accompany their students, using the program to give their students a real-life performance experience that is difficult to find elsewhere. No matter their skill level, Acoustic Kids celebrates young musicians’ achievements, and each year, a stream of young musicians heads to Merlefest to create their own “Music, Moments, and Memories” in Acoustic Kids Showcases. A festival wristband is required to participate, but there is no additional charge. Parents can find the registration page here. Please visit the Acoustic Kids website for further details and other important information concerning this year’s showcases.
Acoustic kids performers will be in good company on stage at MerleFest, joining a host of fellow MerleFest first-timers at the 2021 festival. Melissa Etheridge, Mavis Staples, Sturgill Simpson, Iron Horse Bluegrass, Creole Stomp, Charley Crockett, Joe Troop (of Che Apalache), Nefesh Mountain, Kelsey Waldon, Sierra Ferrell, One Fret Over, Amythyst Kiah, Chatham Rabbits, and Hogslop String Band will all be making their debut at MerleFest this year.
MerleFest wants to remind everyone that early bird ticket prices are still in effect until September 15th.
Finally, the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest judges have been announced. This year’s panel of music industry professionals includes Dolphus Ramseur, Amythyst Kiah, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, and The Milk Carton Kids. CASC is one of the most acclaimed songwriting contests in roots and Americana music and has a reputation for launching careers as well as drawing attention to important new talent. The contest is split into four genre-based categories including bluegrass, general, gospel, and country. First through third place winners will be chosen by these judges in each category at MerleFest 2021.