Sunday, May 06, 2007

Merlefest 20

That's Doc Watson, still going strong at 86.

I've been to a bunch of music festivals in my life, and I have to say that my first visit to Merlefest, held in my hometown of Wilkesboro, N.C., was my favorite. The festival's a tribute to Merle Watson, and a whole bunch of very talented people go there to honor Merle and of course Doc.

It was great to see family and friends over the weekend, and the music was exceptional.

Somehow those Wilkes Countians accommodate more than 80,000 attendees over the course of the weekend, and do a fine job of it. There were 13 stages this year; I saw people perform at 10 of them. Here are a few more photos of some of the acts I saw.

Elvis Costello (that's right) with Byron House and Larry Campbell

From Winnipeg, the delightful Duhks with (second from right) John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin(!) on mandolin

Allison Krauss with the amazing Tony Rice (first saw him in Chapel Hill with David Grisman about 30 years ago ...)

Bela Fleck and Sam Bush (who've been at all 20 Merlefests) with Byron House, Jerry Douglas and Tony Rice; Sam's band played "Whole Lotta Love" with Byron doing a doggone good Robert Plant impression

My new favorite Americana artist Jim Lauderdale autographs my niece Melony's t-shirt

Everything was well-organized; the sound was excellent, and the grounds easy to move about.

I'll be back next year, I hope.