MerleFest 2019: April 25-28 Preview

One week from today, MerleFest begins in the mountains of North Carolina…

From humble beginnings, much like the festival founders, MerleFest has grown into one of the world’s largest musical events. The now four day show occurs on the campus of Wilkes Community College (WCC) in northwest North Carolina with over 100 artists performing on 14 stages, entertaining over 75,000 spectators annually.

The first show occurred in 1988 when WCC horticulture instructor Frederick Townes IV, nicknamed “B”, orchestrated a one-night performance from Doc Watson to serve as a fundraiser for the development of a sensory garden for the blind. Watson agreed, asking that the garden be named in honor of his late son, Merle.

Merle Watson was best known for his musical performances alongside his farther as the two released 12 albums over 21 years before his untimely death from a tractor accident on the family farm. The grounds at WCC became known as the Eddy Merle Watson Garden for the Senses and the event evolved into its current state over the past 31 years.

Brining together traditional bluegrass plus those who flirt with a similar sound in some respect, many world renowned performers have graced one of the many stages at MerleFest during their careers. Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, John Prine, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson and Old Crow Medicine Show are just a handful of the names whose music has been heard here before.

Each year brings in even more talent and with a stellar lineup, the 2019 festival is no different. The Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile, Amos Lee, Wynonna and the Big Noise, Tyler Childers, Radney Foster, The Black Lillies, Sean McConnell, Elizabeth Cook and American Aquarium are just some of the acts who will put their musical talents on display next weekend.

Music begins on Thursday afternoon at 3:00pm and continues through the weekend until the festival concludes on Sunday at 6:00pm, following the return of The Avett Brothers to the Watson Stage.

The full lineup and stage performances can be found here or by visiting MerleFest.org. Tickets are also available, including two reserved seating options for a four-day pass and general admission as a multi or single day ticket. Rivers Edge camping (RV Camping is FULL) is also an option for those planning to attend the entire event.

Get your tickets now to be a part of a wonderful weekend of music in the mountains.

Robert Earl Keen set for multiple dates across NC

The legendary Robert Earl Keen has four upcoming dates throughout North Carolina.

Texas native and song-writing legend, Robert Earl Keen, is making multiple stops in North Carolina this week, beginning on Wednesday. Known for a classic mix of story-portrait songs and other rocking hits, Keen bounces between folk, country, rock and bluegrass – unable and unwilling to be limited by a specific genre or placed into a box.

Three decades removed from his debut album and after years of touring both across the United States and internationally, Keen remains hard at work – always crafting his next musical endeavor and entertaining fans with energetic live performances and the tales behind many of his greatest songs.

A member of the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame, Keen has an extended portfolio of songs from which to choose, so no matter if you’re attending one or all of these upcoming shows – it’s a safe bet you will not leave disappointed.

4/10 – Wednesday at Lincoln Theatre (Raleigh) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

4/11 – Thursday at Neighborhood Theatre (Charlotte) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

4/12 – Friday at The Ramkat (Winston-Salem) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

4/15 – Monday at The Orange Peel (Asheville) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

Depot District Music Fest Returns April 13

Depot District Music Fest returns to Lexington this Saturday (April 13)!

PURCHASE YOUR ADVANCE TICKETS HERE

After tremendous success hosting the inaugural Depot District Music Fest in 2017, plans for a return last year were derailed by a fire in downtown Lexington. Following a resilient effort and construction of an impressive lineup featuring Delbert McClinton, Turnpike Troubadours, Sister Hazel and On the Border – the ultimate Eagles tribute band, a sophomore event is set to take place at Breeden Insurance Amphitheater this Saturday, April 13 as part of the district’s continued revitalization effort.

“Lexington is excited to host a talented lineup of performers for an enthusiastic crowd of music lovers at the Breeden Insurance Amphitheater,” said City Manager Terra Greene, who is eager to offer the Depot District Music Fest for a second time. “Being able to see high caliber entertainment perform up close and personal at such a warm outdoor venue is a treat for visitors and the entire community. We look forward to welcoming newcomers to Lexington for the Depot District Music Fest and beyond!”

Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating purposes as gates (333 S. Main Street) will open at noon. Multiple food truck vendors, in addition to beer and wine will be on site and available to purchase. The event does allow reentry, meaning dining options in the Uptown Lexington Historic District are also a possibility but no outside food or beverages are permitted, except for medical purposes.

Set times for the festival are as follows:

On the Border 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Sister Hazel 3:30pm – 5:00pm

Turnpike Troubadours 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Delbert McClinton 7:30pm – 9:00pm

Advance tickets are still available at $45 for adult general admission, increasing to $55 on Saturday with children 12 and under admitted with a paying adult – $10 (online advanced purchase) or $15 at the gate.

PURCHASE YOUR ADVANCE TICKETS HERE

Music Festivals + April = FestivApril Across NC

Multiple festivals highlight the upcoming April schedule across North Carolina.

As the calendar turns to April, spring is in full swing and the live music scene is heating up. After an incredible March, the slate of shows and artists available to see this month may be even more impressive. There are a number of different festivals taking place across the state so no matter where you live, make plans to attend one, two or more and help support some great causes and artists in the process.

Following is a brief preview of each (in chronological order) and links to their respective sites where even more information can be found.

Pickin’ For The Mission – Morganton – April 7
Tickets Available Here

A benefit show featuring BBQ and multiple artists performing throughout the afternoon, with all proceeds going to The Meeting Place to battle homelessness.

Featuring: Justin Clyde Williams, Tyler Hatley, Corey Hunt and Sam Tayloe

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Depot District Music Fest – Lexington – April 13
Tickets Available Here

A solid lineup and full day of entertainment to celebrate community, music and the revitalization of a district in the heart of North Carolina.

Featuring: On the Border, Sister Hazel, Turnpike Troubadours, Delbert McClinton

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MerleFest – Wilkesboro – April 25 thru 28
Tickets Available Here

Beginning as a small college fundraiser, this festival has grown into a world renowned event of music, moments and memories to celebrate “traditional plus” artists.

Featuring: The Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile, Tyler Childers, Amos Lee, Wynonna Judd, Jim Lauderdale, The Black Lillies, Radney Foster, Donna the Buffalo, American Aquarium, Sean McConnell, Elizabeth Cook, The Casey Kristofferson Band and more!

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Tuck Fest – Charlotte – April 25 thru 28
Free Music Event

Celebrating outdoor lifestyles at the US National Whitewater Center, this festival features multiple event competitions in addition to music at one of the most unique venues in all of the state.

Featuring: Tyler Childers, Sarah Shook, Sean McConnell, The Marcus King Band, Liz Cooper, The Milk Carton Kids and more!

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Jimmy-June Music and Arts Festival – Asheboro – April 27
Free Music Event

Promoting the positive aspects of southern culture, this inaugural festival figures to be a wonderful day of family fun and entertainment.

Featuring: Caleb Caudle, Justin Wells, Abigail Dowd, Whiskey Foxtrot and more!

Sean McConnell in Carrboro and Charlotte

Sean McConnell has two dates in NC this week.

Proficient songwriter and talented musician Sean McConnell is making a brief run through North Carolina to kick off the weekend. Two dates, Thursday (3/7) and Friday (3/8) in Carrboro and Charlotte – respectively, allow for almost anyone in the state to make a show.

Randy Rogers, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Meatloaf, Christina Aguilera, Wade Bowen and many others have performed his songs as McConnell got his musical start at a young age. Growing up in Massachusetts as the son of two singers, a move to Georgia sparked an interest in his own endeavors. At 15 years old he put out his first album and since McConnell has produced a dozen more, including “Secondhand Smoke”, his latest release.

Only out since early February, the album has drawn acclaim from a variety of different outlets. No Depression (The Journal of Roots Music) offered the following commentary about McConnell’s latest masterpiece.

With a voice that’s quiet, yet powerful, McConnell creates a well-rounded album that tackles complex subject matter with intellect and empathy. Between his striking voice and ability to captivate one’s vision with his lyrics, McConnell creates an imaginative world while taking a deeper look at the one we live in.

Come witness his incredible song writing and talented playing first-hand, either at Cat’s Cradle (Carrboro) or The Evening Muse (Charlotte). Tickets and details available below.

March 7 – Cat’s Cradle (Carrboro), Doors 7pm – Click HERE for Tix

March 8 – The Evening Muse (Charlotte), Doors 7pm – Click HERE for Tix

*Caleb Elliott supporting both shows

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers set multiple NC dates

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers have four upcoming shows across NC

Sarah Shook wasn’t born in North Carolina but after moving to the state at 19 years old, has spent the majority of her adult life here. The lead singer has been on a musical journey since beginning her first band back in 2010, Sarah Shook and the Devil.

After disbanding, Sarah Shook and the Dirty Hands formed but was relatively short lived in 2013, before the now surging, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers came into being late that same year.

The group put out their first record, “Sidelong”, in October of 2015 and after signing with Bloodshot Records, a re-release orchestrated in early 2017 put Shook and her band into the spotlight for new country and Americana artists to watch.

Over the past year, Shook has been touring all over the world in addition to releasing her sophomore album, “Years”. The album has been widely accepted as Shook has been praised for her hard work and ability to speak her mind through engaging lyrics (and in the real world) without hesitation. Never in fear of potential repercussions, Shook stays true to herself and continues to move forward. It is this resiliency that has catapulted Shook and her band into the spotlight.

A continuation of the momentum Shook and her band have been building, “Years” served to solidify her position in the independent music scene, earning Album of the Year from Saving Country Music for being “the greatest, most important release in all of country music, mainstream or independent, traditional or contemporary, from an artist who is young or old, man or woman, or along any other particular gradient one can choose to assign, in all of 2018.”

Less than three years ago Rolling Stone named Shook as one of ten artists that fans needed to know, offering the following comments in an attempt to describe her and the band.

Her sound is a sneering fusion of punk-rock autonomy and say-it-like-it-is country from the classic era, paired with a timeless vocal warble and tons of attitude. Honest to a fault and as foul-mouthed as a drunken sailor, she’s a nonconforming spitfire who’s proud of not fitting in with mainstream country music. Nor does Shook hold back when writing about whiskey and hard living, screwing up and failed romance (with guys and girls) — whether in her songs or her combative social-media posts.

Needed to know then but well known now and all without ever changing her approach. Amid a slew of newly released tour dates, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers have four upcoming shows across North Carolina.

NORTH CAROLINA UPCOMING TOUR DATES

March 7 – Asheville at The Grey Eagle (Tix Available Here)

April 4 – Greensboro at The Blind Tiger (Tix Available Here)
April 26 – Charlotte at Tuck Fest, US National Whitewater Center (Free Admission)
April 27 – Carrboro at Cat’s Cradle (Tix Available Here)

First Listen: ‘San Isidro’ by Whiskey Foxtrot

EXCLUSIVE: Listen to ‘San Isidro’ by Whiskey Foxtrot today.

Back in early January, Whiskey Foxtrot, an emerging North Carolina band, released their first ever single, ‘The Broken End’ following it up with ‘Turn Off the Headlights,’ two weeks later. Both songs provided a slight glimpse into the group’s sound and talented lineup that many have witnessed first-hand at shows across the southeast over the past couple years. Recently announcing a commitment to their debut studio album, Whiskey Foxtrot has a third single, ‘San Isidro’ available everywhere on March 2 (Saturday). Prior to its official release, RedDirtNC caught up with the group for an exclusive first listen available here.

Slightly different from each of the first two releases, this track carries more of a ballad feel, walking a line many prominent bands such as Blackberry Smoke and Whiskey Myers toe with their music. Capable of sets that both excite a crowd and involve some story-telling, listening room allure, the diversity Whiskey Foxtrot displays is quite impressive – especially for a band who is just now compiling their first ever album.

A melody with the focus on memories and what could have been, the tale draws you in even as Sam Foster and Seth Williams plead, “don’t let it pull me in.” Also prevalent is the handiwork of band mate Terry VunCannon on the lap steel, in addition to both Earthtones Recording and Alien Beans Studio who completed the engineering and mastering, respectively.

The momentum building behind this group is obvious. Recently returning from a brief tour of Florida with stops in Georgia, Whiskey Foxtrot also announced a crowdsourcing campaign through Indiegogo to assist with funding their debut record. According to Foster, “it’s going to be an excellent demonstration of what exactly we’re capable of as a unit, and reflective of the time we’ve spent woodshedding songs together, as well as sharpening our playing skills as a whole.” Already halfway to their goal with over a month remaining, you too can have a role in the development process with a donation of any size. Some incredible incentives are also being offered for your consideration – view and donate here.

As each new song continues to be released it’s quickly becoming apparent that while Whiskey Foxtrot has taken their time to enter the studio, the backgrounds and previous solo albums released from Foster and Williams have provided a solid foundation for their future.

Upcoming Tour Dates:

3/1 – Winston-Salem, NC (Breaktime Billiards) – 9pm
3/2 – Winston-Salem, NC (Bull’s Tavern) – 10pm
3/8 – Youngsville, NC (Wine and Beer 101) – 6pm
3/9 – Greenville, NC (Buccaneer Music Hall) – 10:30pm
3/16 – Greensboro, NC (Preyer Brewing) – 8pm
3/22 – Greensboro, NC (Sawmill II) – 8pm
3/23 – Asheboro, NC (Lucky’s Burger N Tap) – 9pm
3/28 – Raleigh, NC (The Pour House) – 8pm
3/29 – Kernersville, NC (Breathe Cocktail Lounge) – 9pm
3/30 – Greensboro, NC (The Crown at Carolina Theatre) – 7pm

Find more at WhiskeyFoxTrotMusic.com

Koe Wetzel Makes Midweek Stop in Charlotte

East Texas native Koe Wetzel set to play Coyote Joe’s in Charlotte this Wednesday.

Originally scheduled for the newly renovated Amos’ Southend in Charlotte, construction delays have forced a change of venue for the upcoming Koe Wetzel concert. After moving last week’s Read Southall Band and Kody West bill into the restaurant portion of Amos’, a larger room was needed for this Wednesday (2/13) and what is expected to be one of the best shows in Charlotte this year.

Back in November, Wetzel was scheduled for his first North Carolina appearance ahead of Muscadine Bloodline at Coyote Joe’s but a personal matter kept him from making the trip. Wetzel and his band did make their debut during a Raleigh stop, one week later, and another warm welcome is anticipated when he hits the stage on Wednesday night.

Blending his own Texas style with a rocking back drop, Wetzel has been enjoying a rise in recognition and acceptance since the 2016 release of “Noise Complaint”. Though some consider him to be a polarizing figure, his steady rise to the top continues as he looks to expand his reach with multiple tour dates throughout the southeast, including North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana.

North Carolina’s own Tyler Hatley will kick things off on the 103.7 Super Stage in what is being billed as a ‘Singles Party,’ ahead of Valentine’s Day by the venue. Original purchased tickets will be honored and upgraded to VIP Pit Passes, which are also available at the door for $15 each. Ladies get in free and all other tickets are $6 for general admission.

Doors open at 7:00pm ET.

American Aquarium Roadtrip to Raleigh V: Preview

City of Oaks plays host to annual pilgrimage for fans of American Aquarium this weekend.

Fans of the North Carolina based American Aquarium have become familiar with the late January trip to the state’s capital and annual roadtrip orchestrated by front man B.J. Barham. Inviting talented artists from other parts of the country, to those right here in our backyard, Barham meticulously pieces together a solid lineup for the ‘Roadtrip to Raleigh’, now in its fifth year.

Initially gaining notoriety around the Carolinas with a tireless touring schedule, Barham is always working hard to connect with his fans and it is this persistence that expanded their fan base and led to national tours with sell outs in tow. From humble beginnings the band now regularly visits Texas and has repeatedly played festivals like Music Fest in Steamboat (Colorado) and Medicine Stone (Oklahoma), in addition to traveling across the pond for European tours over the past few years – but none compare to seeing Barham perform on his home turf.

In years past, fans have traveled from all over the United States and even the world to experience these unique back-to-back American Aquarium performances, those of others on each bill and to take in the sights often referred to by Barham in his lyrics. Once in Raleigh you can, hear “the church bells ringing down at old St. Mary’s” and experience “landlocked nights down at Slim’s” all on your own.

As always, Barham has mapped out the cities finest restaurants, coffee shops and other entertaining establishments (available here) and this year there’s even a special beer. Released in collaboration with Trophy Brewing aptly named ‘Tough Folks’ available at The Lincoln Theatre, Poole’s Downtown Diner, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey and Fox Liquor Bar.

The full 2019 lineup includes, Courtney Marie Andrews and Brent Cobb on Friday night with Phil Cook and SUSTO scheduled to perform Saturday – all ahead of American Aquarium who closes the show both nights.

Courtney Marie Andrews (Friday 1/25)

Brent Cobb (Friday 1/25)

Phil Cook (Saturday 1/26)

SUSTO (Saturday 1/26)

American Aquarium (Friday 1/25 and Saturday 1/26)

Out Today: Whiskey Foxtrot’s ‘Turn Off the Headlights’

Available everywhere you listen, NC’s Whiskey Foxtrot releases second single!

Independent musicians Seth Williams and Sam Foster joined together in 2017 to create Whiskey Foxtrot, a band that has risen steadily in recognition throughout North Carolina and all across the southeast. Hailing from the Piedmont Triad city of Winston-Salem, the duo added Brad Cardille (bass), Terry VunCannon (lap steel) and Steven Worley (drums) when recording and performing as a full band.

Working again with producer Corey Hunt at Uwharrie Mountain Sound, the band released their second single, ‘Turn Off the Headlights’ – available today everywhere you listen to music.

Another upbeat, southern rock feel backs the tale of a good time in contrast to their first single, ‘The Broken End’. Instead of focusing on the finality and brokenness of a failed encounter, the latest song hits on the sparks that ignite a relationship. Written by Seth Williams, it is evident the combination of styles and ideas fit nicely together with Foster and the rest of the band, to create a conglomerate of blues and classic country – all with just the right amount of rock and roll.

Crowds react differently to lyrics, but as this song is played live we can see it generating some audience participation. “Turn up the radio” followed by everyone in unison “and turn off the headlights!” Two weeks ago, the first release from Whiskey Foxtrot set the table and this second track only serves to further ignite interest for even more music from this group later in the year.

Upcoming Tour Dates:

1/25 – Youngsville, NC (Wine and Beer 101) – 6pm
1/26 – Lewisville, NC (Westbend Winery and Brewery) – 2pm

2/1 – Winston-Salem, NC (The Ramkat) – 7pm
2/2 – Lewisville, NC (Westbend Winery and Brewery) – 2pm
2/6 – Roanoke, VA (Martin’s Downtown) – 9pm
2/8 – Winston-Salem, NC (Earl’s) – 10pm
2/22 – Micanopy, FL (The Depot and Speakeasy Room) – 7:30pm
2/23 – Wimauma, FL (Southern Rock and BBQ Festival) – 11am

3/1 – Winston-Salem, NC (Breaktime Billiards) – 9pm
3/2 – Winston-Salem, NC (Bull’s Tavern) – 10pm
3/8 – Youngsville, NC (Wine and Beer 101) – 6pm
3/9 – Greenville, NC (Buccaneer Music Hall) – 10:30pm
3/16 – Greensboro, NC (Preyer Brewing) – 8pm
3/22 – Greensboro, NC (Sawmill II) – 8pm
3/23 – Asheboro, NC (Lucky’s Burger N Tap) – 9pm
3/29 – Kernersville, NC (Breathe Cocktail Lounge) – 9pm
3/30 – Greensboro, NC (The Crown at Carolina Theatre) – 7pm

Find more at whiskeyfoxtrotmusic.com