This past weekend, music fans nationwide made their way to Wilkesboro, North Carolina, for MerleFest’s triumphant return to its traditional Spring weekend. From Thursday to Sunday, across twelve stages, MerleFest magic unfolded with world-class performances, spontaneous sit-ins, and unforgettable collaborations from the likes of Old Crow Medicine Show, Allison Russell, The Waybacks’ annual Album Hour, and more.
“We are so grateful for our artists, staff, volunteers, vendors, and all the behind-the-scenes folks who made MerleFest 2022 a success. It felt great to be back on campus for our usual spring weekend and we are already looking forward to next year,” said Wes Whitson, festival director.
MerleFest, presented by Window World and held on the campus of Wilkes Community College, is the primary fundraiser for the WCC Foundation, which funds scholarships, capital projects, and other educational needs.
Thursday: Fans were in awe when Durand Jones & The Indications brought their modern-day R&B to the Watson Stage where Jones and drummer Aaron Frazer swapped vocal duties throughout the set. Primed by a day already full of great music and ideal weather, the MerleFest crowd showed up and turned Josh Turner’s headlining set into one big singalong to close out day one.
Friday: Sierra Hull, a last-minute addition to the lineup, showed off her instrumental prowess and songwriting chops on the Americana stage. Fans were abuzz talking about North Carolina native Rissi Palmer’s Cabin stage set. Steep Canyon Rangers took to the Hillside Stage at the golden hour for their Sunset Sessions Set before the Watson stage one-two punch of The Wood Brothers and Greensky Bluegrass. Fans headed over to the dance tent where We Banjo 3 and friends, including the aforementioned Sierra Hull, had the crowd electrified.
Saturday: Shortly after a Hillside stage crowd sang to Jim Lauderdale for his birthday, The Waybacks took the stage for their annual Album Hour performance. Fans were delighted to hear the first notes of Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band,” giving away the surprise that Workingman’s Dead was to be this year’s subject. Allison Russell and Scythian were much talked-about sets throughout the day and Old Crow Medicine Show surprised everyone with an unplugged “busking” set right in the middle of the festival grounds. Saturday ended with Hogslop String Band hosting the annual Late Night Jam with a laundry list of special guests including Kaia Kater, Donna The Buffalo, and Caleb Caudle.
Sunday: MerleFest closed out with an Americana grand slam on the Watson Stage with Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Emmylou Harris playing hit after hit to a cheerful Sunday crowd.
MerleFest 2023 is set for April 27 – 30. Please stay tuned to merlefest.org for more information.