MerleFest Announces Final Lineup Additions For 2020 Festival

Article Contributed by IVPR | Published on Monday, February 10, 2020

MerleFest, presented by Window World, is proud to announce the next round of artist additions for MerleFest 2020, which will be held April 23-26. Greensky Bluegrass, Mavis Staples, Paul Thorn, Cane Mill Road, Sweet Potato Pie, The Barefoot Movement, Nefesh Mountain, and Smitty and the Jumpstarters will be joining the annual homecoming of musicians and music fans on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Greensky Bluegrass: “There’s this great duality to our band,” reflects Greensky Bluegrass mandolinist vocalist and songwriter Paul Hoffman. “We’re existing in a few different places at once. We’re a bluegrass band and a rock band. We’re song-driven and interested in extended improvisation.” Formed in 2000 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Greensky Bluegrass kicked off their career playing living rooms and open mic nights across the Midwest. By 2005, they were touring nationally, and by 2006, they were playing the first in a long series of appearances at the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Bandmates Hoffman, Bruzza, dobro player Anders Beck, banjoist Michael Arlen Bont, and upright bassist Mike Devol spent most of the following decade on the road, fine-tuning a live show modeled not after the toned-down production of traditional bluegrass music, but the full-on spectacle of rock. Greensky Bluegrass will perform Friday night on the Watson Stage.

Mavis Staples - photo by Paul Mann

Mavis Staples: “I’m the messenger,” Mavis Staples says on her 80th birthday. “That’s my job—it has been for my whole life—and I can’t just give up while the struggle’s still alive. We’ve got more work to do so I’m going to keep on delivering my message every single day.” That message—a clarion call to love, to faith, to justice, to brotherhood, to joy—lies at the heart of ‘We Get By,’ Staples’ spectacular twelfth studio album and first full-length collaboration with multi-grammy award-winner Ben Harper. Backed by her longtime touring band, Staples breathes extraordinary life into Harper’s compositions on the record, delivering roof-raising performances with both a youthful vigor and a commanding maturity. The arrangements here are spare but weighty, matched by Harper’s suitably lean and thoughtful production, and Staples seizes the opportunity to showcase her remarkable evolution as an artist, one still growing and exploring more than half a century into her storied career. ‘We Get By’ is undoubtedly a timely collection, arriving in the face of deep social divisions and heightened political tensions, but like everything Staples touches, it’s also larger than any particular moment, a timeless appeal to the better angels of our nature, assuring better things ahead. Mavis Staples will perform Sunday afternoon on the Watson Stage.

Paul Thorn: Paul Thorn has created an innovative and impressive career, pleasing crowds with his muscular brand of roots music—bluesy, rocking, and thoroughly Southern American, yet also speaking universal truths. Among those who value originality, inspiration, eccentricity, and character—as well as talent that hovers somewhere on the outskirts of genius—the story of Paul Thorn is already familiar. Raised in Tupelo, Mississippi, among the same spirits who nurtured the young Elvis generations before, Paul Thorn has rambled down back roads, battled four-time world champion boxer Roberto Duran on national television, signed with and been dropped by a major label, performed on stages with Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler, Sting, and John Prine among many others, and made some of the most emotionally restless yet relatable music of our time. When performing live, his songs of humanity and redemption create an incredible range of emotions that will have the audience on their feet. It’s a show that’s guaranteed to be good for the soul. Paul Thorn will perform Sunday afternoon on the Creekside Stage.

MerleFest 2020

Today’s lineup announcement adds eight great artists to MerleFest’s already stacked lineup: Willie Nelson & Family, Alison Krauss, John Prine, Melissa Etheridge, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, The Jerry Douglas Band, Sam Bush, Billy Strings, The Marcus King Band, Jim Lauderdale, Kruger Brothers, The Waybacks, Scythian, Donna the Buffalo, Peter Rowan and the Free Mexican Airforce, Tommy Emmanuel, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, John Cowan, Colin Hay, Shinyribs, Charley Crockett, Darrell Scott, The Steel Wheels, Kelsey Waldon, Gangstagrass, Robbie Fulks, Amythyst Kiah, Cordovas, Alison Brown, Andy May, “B” Townes, Banknotes, Bill and the Belles, Bryan Sutton, Carol Rifkin, Charles Welch, Chatham Rabbits, Che Apalache, The Cleverlys, Creole Stomp with Dennis Stroughmatt, David Holt, Fireside Collective, Flattop, Happy Traum, Hogslop String Band, InterACTive Theatre of Jef, Iron Horse Bluegrass, Jack Lawrence, Jeff Little Trio, Jody Carroll, Joe Smothers, Ken Crouse, Laura Boosinger, The Local Boys, Los Texmaniacs, Mark Bumgarner, Mary Flower, Mitch Greenhill, Pete & Joan Wernick, Piedmont Bluz, Presley Barker, Rev. Robert Jones, Roy Book Binder, Sierra Ferrell, String Madness, T. Michael Coleman, Tony Williamson, Wayne Henderson, The Moore Brothers, The Williams Brothers, and Wyld Fern.

Tickets for the festival are on sale now 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 until February 16, 2020; Early Bird Tier 2 tickets from February 17 to April 22. The remaining tickets will be sold 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 is the primary fundraiser for the WCC Foundation, funding scholarships, capital projects, and other educational needs.