Red Dirt NC: Weekend Watch, May 25-27

Two different festivals highlight Memorial Day weekend across North Carolina…

The Outlaw Music Festival makes its way across North Carolina this weekend along with Gears and Guitars (May 25-28) in Winston-Salem. Both are jam packed with solid lineups and should provide plenty of entertainment for everyone who attends.

If your preference this Memorial Day weekend is for a more intimate setting, there’s opportunity for that as well. A variety of other shows are taking place as the unofficial start to summer begins!

Get out and enjoy a show!

FRIDAY – MAY 25, 2018

Outlaw Music Festival – Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, Raleigh

4:00pm – Gates Open
5:45pm – Delta Rae
6:35pm – Alison Krauss
8:05pm – Sturgill Simpson
9:45pm – Willie Nelson

Shane Smith and the Saints – Motorco Music Hall, Durham

From their home base in Austin through performances across the country (17 states) and abroad (Ireland), these five gentlemen have not just stuck stubbornly to their musical and lyrical convictions. They’ve defied audience expectations by delivering incendiary shows, each one ignited by the band’s ability to unleash, feed from and feed back the energy of the crowd — in spite of the fact that they don’t fit easily into any musical category.

Corey Hunt Band – Motorco Music Hall, Durham

“Hunt’s songwriting ranges from sincere romanticism to outlaw rebellion, and their do-it-yourself approach to booking, recording, and gigging has given them the freedom to explore and expand their music as they grow.  With room to grow and momentum on their side, their crowd-pleasing and relatable take on modern roots music is poised for bigger and better things every time they hit the stage or the studio.”

Jamie McLean Band – The Blue Note Grill, Durham

Jamie McLean is a triple threat. His blue eyed southern soul vocals ooze raw emotion and his top line songwriting chops tie everything together.  With hundreds of original compositions to his name McLean creates a musical gumbo that incorporates New Orleans soul, Delta blues, middle America roots and New York City swagger.

SATURDAY – MAY 26, 2018

Outlaw Music Festival – PNC Music Pavilion, Charlotte

3:30pm – Gates Open
4:10pm – Mitchell Lee
5:00pm – Wild Feathers
6:30pm – Old Crow Medicine Show
8:00pm – Sturgill Simpson
9:40pm – Willie Nelson

Chris Stalcup – 185 King St., Brevard

In a just world, Stalcup’s name should be included amongst the new breed of artists including Isbell, Simpson and Stapleton who are marrying tradition and truth. ~ Eric Risch / Pop Matters

SUNDAY – MAY 27, 2018

Gears and Guitars – Bailey Park, Winston-Salem

5:00pm – Gates Open
Charley Crockett
Amanda Shires
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

See the full four-day festival lineup here.


Look for us out on the road this weekend and enjoy the shows! Don’t forget, keep spreading the love, one song at a time…

Live Review: Turnpike Troubadours in Asheville

The Turnpike Troubadours made the most of a brief North Carolina visit last week…

The relatively short time span from an announced show in Asheville to performance didn’t leave much room for promotion. Fortunately, the Turnpike Troubadours are one of the biggest and best bands currently in the red dirt scene, word traveled fast and a sold out crowd greeted them at Salvage Station in Asheville last Thursday night.

A small venue with a capacity of around 1,000 for their indoor performances, the unique facility provided both an indoor and outdoor stage. Better weather would have made for an entertaining performance on the outdoor stage with crowds along the French Broad River banks but with periods of rain, the cozy confines of an indoor facility were perfect.

Rising star Jaime Wyatt, who sings alongside Shooter Jennings on his new album in ‘Fast Horses and Good Hideouts’ got things going with her honky tonk style songs off her latest record Felony Blues.

Following, Evan Felker and his band took to the stage with ‘The Housefire’ and for nearly two hours rarely showed signs of slowing down. An upbeat set list with only brief interludes to share a story about former member and friend John Fullbright, in addition to band introductions were the only breaks in the action until time for an encore.

From his initial countdown to get things started, Felker looked like a revived and refreshed band leader. Our seventh Turnpike Troubadours show in the past seven years and it was the most fun we’ve seen him have on stage. High on life? Sober? You’d have to ask him but the performance was on point all night long.

High energy, solid performances all the way around and even nearly 1,000 miles from home playing to a packed house with the majority singing along. Felker did mention their latest album, A Long Way From Your Heart, was partially recorded in the North Carolina mountains of Asheville presumably at the historic Echo Mountain Studios.

Potentially their best album to date, which is saying something considering the band hasn’t put out a bad song in nearly a decade, many of the favorites were featured throughout the set with a sprinkling of older songs mixed in between.

Felker turned over the stage to bass player R.C. Edwards to take a short break and his song ‘Drunk, High and Loud’ went over extremely well before the full band was back together for ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’ (Beatles) and ‘Long Hot Summer Day’ (John Hartford).

The encore was a perfect two song finale showcasing the talents of everyone in the band and how well their combined efforts come across on stage. Like a well oiled machine, the Turnpike Troubadours executed a flawless performance on a tight stage putting together one of the best live shows we have witnessed this year.

FULL SETLIST 05/17/2018

The Housefire
Every Girl
7 & 7
Doreen
1968
Morgan Street
Shreveport
The Bird Hunters
Whole Damn Town
Kansas City Southern
Good Lord Lorrie
Wrecked
The Winding Stair Mountain Blues
Pay No Rent
Pipe Bomb Dream
Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead
I’ve Just Seen a Face (The Beatles)
Drunk, High and Loud (R.C. Edwards)
Long Hot Summer Day (John Hartford)

ENCORE

A Tornado Warning
Something To Hold On To

Live Review: Aaron Watson in Charlotte

The Queen City got a taste of West Texas with Aaron Watson on Saturday night…

These Old Boots Have Roots was a fitting opener for Aaron Watson as he took the stage at Coyote Joe’s on Saturday night. The upbeat anthem not only makes a promise of being committed in a relationship but also to remember where you come from. Watson has remained true to those words over his 17-year career, forging a path in his own way while bringing numerous fans along for the ride.

Not only did Watson make it a point to continuously highlight the mothers in attendance on Mother’s Day Eve but he also took the time to listen as fans shouted requests, making his best efforts to connect with the crowd and entertain with his music.

At one point Watson even pulled his own phone from his pocket attempting to take a selfie with the audience but eventually passed off the responsibility to his drummer for a better shot. The roughly 90-minute set started off fast but slowed in the middle as Watson shared the story behind July in Cheyenne which concluded with the Lane Frost signature wave.

A bride-to-be celebrating with her friends was invited on stage by Watson and assisted with the band for a brief moment before a unique introduction of each band member and a rollicking finish.

After disclosing there would be no traditional encore, in appreciation for the fans who Watson believes shouldn’t be left to beg for music after having purchased a ticket, the set continued.

As Watson highlighted every member of his band, Orphans of the Brazos, they were each granted a couple of minutes to showcase their own individual talents. From playing the popular Uptown Funk on bass to epic drum and guitar solos, the brief intermission filled with continued music fit nicely into the set.

As the first few notes of Outta Style rang out across the Coyote Joe’s dance floor there was a sense of closure to the evening and everyone in attendance knew this was it. The crowd sang along as the set came full circle before Watson leaped from the stage, shaking hands and passing out guitar picks to fans who were in the first few rows.

It was evident that Watson cares about his fans and their appreciation for his music from the set alone, but an even deeper understanding of this fact became apparent following the show.

After a short break fans lined a few walls of Coyote Joe’s near the merchandise table where Watson would soon reappear. For nearly as long as the Texas native had entertained with his music, Watson stood taking pictures with fans, shaking hands, and extending his own appreciation for them being in attendance.

Watson may not consider himself a star but he is indeed a bright one and someone taking the time to act in such a manor says a lot about their commitment to music, entertainment and understanding that it is the fans who aid in their successes – much like many of the other musicians inside the Red Dirt and Texas Country scene.

FULL SETLIST 05/12/2018

These Old Boots Have Roots
Freight Train
Real Good Time
Raise Your Bottle
That’s Why God Loves Cowboys
Take You Home Tonight
That Look
July in Cheyenne
Wildfire
Getaway Truck
Run Wild Horses
Reckless
Fence Post
Vaquero
Amarillo By Morning
Barbed Wire Halo
Outta Style

Turnpike Troubadours: Come See For Yourself

The Turnpike Troubadours are headed to western North Carolina this week…

Anytime an artist or band who is cemented into the local red dirt and Texas music scene ventures this far east it creates a sense of excitement but when that band is The Turnpike Troubadours, it’s cause for elation on extreme levels. It won’t be the first, and hopefully not the last time lead singer Evan Felker and his band mates visit North Carolina but it has been a while.

Having played dates in Raleigh and Charlotte over the past few years, the band lands in western North Carolina for a Thursday night show at Salvage Station in Asheville, this week. While the venue and city make for an easy trip from Charlotte, Winston-Salem and all points west, the band itself should draw patrons from across North Carolina and many neighboring states as well.

Even if you have not yet heard of The Turnpike Troubadours, it is likely that if you follow country music the name Evan Felker rings a bell. Recently it was revealed that Felker and country music superstar Miranda Lambert have been involved in a relationship, although the media’s portrayal of Turnpike as a neo-folk group was comical to those who have been following the band for some time.

Originating around 2007 from Oklahoma, the band has organically grown a following outside the heart of red dirt music. Both recent and upcoming tours with Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town should assist in growing their already spirited fan base.

Most songs are contrived from Felker and bassist R.C. Edwards, whose storytelling abilities to compose parallels between, not just separate songs, but over entire albums and even across different records is remarkable.

The band itself, comprised of other members: Kyle Nix (fiddle), Ryan Engleman (lead guitar), Gabriel Pearson (drums) and Hank Early (steel guitar) has a unique sound of their own. A blending of so many red dirt staples, including an occasional accordion, harmonica and banjo serve as a strong foundation for their music.

It is this sound coupled with creative lyrics that have aided their rise in the red dirt scene. Arguably the best and most successful band currently touring, The Turnpike Troubadours continue to escalate their game and live performances with each passing show.

Featured on Austin City Limits with Chris Stapleton and preparing for another television taping at the Bluegrass Underground, coming up on Saturday, their exposure has seemingly been growing across all platforms for some time.

Make your way to Asheville on Thursday and find out for yourself what makes this band so special. If you are a fan of live music and want to witness first-hand a group of extremely talented musicians who are continually working to hone their craft, then make plans now to be in attendance.

Doors at 8:00pm, purchase tickets here.

Red Dirt NC: Weekend Watch, May 10-13

North Carolina is packed with live music opportunities this weekend…

Supporting music largely originating from Oklahoma and Texas means sometimes having to wait for artists to visit the east coast. Checking their schedules we are often jealous of the many dates with TX or OK beside them but understand it’s there where they make a living.

It seems on any given night somewhere in either state you can find great live music to support and thanks to some talented local North Carolina musicians making similar music, this Thursday through the weekend, our state will be provided the same opportunity.

There’s FIVE different shows to choose from just tonight, so let’s get started.

THURSDAY – MAY 10, 2018

Corey Hunt Band – The TApp Room, Boone
Tyler Hatley – The TApp Room, Boone

“Hunt’s songwriting ranges from sincere romanticism to outlaw rebellion, and their do-it-yourself approach to booking, recording, and gigging has given them the freedom to explore and expand their music as they grow.  With room to grow and momentum on their side, their crowd-pleasing and relatable take on modern roots music is poised for bigger and better things every time they hit the stage or the studio.”

Blackberry Smoke – The Ritz, Raleigh

Blackberry Smoke has never been a band that stands still. Whether pursuing the dream by logging hundreds of thousands of miles on America’s highways and abroad or relentlessly exploring the many facets of its most unique art form, the Atlanta quintet is always on the move. The songs on Blackberry Smoke’s sixth album, Like an Arrow show just how far this authentic American rock band has come as the accomplished group of musicians tackles a diverse set of new ideas, sounds and territories, long after most bands with half the success might have settled into a well-worn groove.

Blue Water Highway – The Grey Eagle, Asheville

Blue Water Highway runs just outside of Freeport up towards Galveston along the Texas Gulf Coast. This is the part of the world where the cultures of Texas and Louisiana collide in a unique melting pot steeped in the traditions of the people of both states.

Jonathan Parker – Kelly’s Bar, Benson

Independent and traditional country music. Rising local artist within the genre featuring original songs and a few classic covers from some of your favorite outlaws.

Radney Foster – The Barn, Winston-Salem

For You To See The Stars is Foster at his classic storytelling best, both as a seasoned singer/songwriter and a soulful writer of prose. Although both components stand alone as separate pieces of art– they are meant to be enjoyed together for a reason. When coupled, the book and CD give fans a deeper insight into the subconscious of Foster’s storytelling.

FRIDAY – MAY 11, 2018

Brandi Carlile – Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre, Wilmington
Brandy Clark – Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre, Wilmington

Clark is part of a new vanguard in country music — one that tips a hat to tradition, while not eschewing its evolution. “I see what’s happening right now and I feel this groundswell of people who love… I would say ‘country’ music, but I’ll take it a step further and say ‘real’ music.

Corey Hunt Band – Puckett’s Farm Equipment, Charlotte
Todd Allmon – Puckett’s Farm Equipment, Charlotte

“Hunt’s songwriting ranges from sincere romanticism to outlaw rebellion, and their do-it-yourself approach to booking, recording, and gigging has given them the freedom to explore and expand their music as they grow.  With room to grow and momentum on their side, their crowd-pleasing and relatable take on modern roots music is poised for bigger and better things every time they hit the stage or the studio.”

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real – Highland Brewing, Asheville

Since forming 10 years ago, the buzz surrounding Lukas Nelson & POTR has been quietly intensifying. Lukas’ profile continued to rise when he contributed three songs and heavenly vocals to his dad Willie Nelson’s 2012 album, Heroes, their voices blending with potent DNA.

Tyler Hatley – Strawberry Fest, Shelby

Independent and original country music influenced by the sounds of George Jones, William Clark Green and American Aquarium.

SATURDAY – MAY 12, 2018

Aaron Watson – Coyote Joe’s, Charlotte

Throughout his 17-year career that spans a dozen albums and more than 2,500 shows throughout the U.S. and Europe, 39-year-old Watson has stubbornly and sincerely identified with the everyman––even as he’s proven to be the exception to the rule.

Brandi Carlile – Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh
Brandy Clark – Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh

A second opportunity this weekend.

Corey Hunt Band – The Exchange, Asheboro
Todd Allmon – The Exchange, Asheboro

Another opportunity this weekend.

Jonathan Parker – The Junction, Benson

One more chance to see Jonathan Parker and his band.

SUNDAY – MAY 13, 2018

Brandi Carlile – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville
Brandy Clark – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville

A third stop for both artists in North Carolina!


Look for us out on the road this weekend and enjoy the shows but don’t forget to keep spreading the love, one song at a time…

Aaron Watson: Underdog no more

West Texas singer and songwriter Aaron Watson performs this Saturday night in Charlotte…

Aaron Watson has always been committed to his fans and music. Original music backed by lyrics dedicated to lasting relationships, loving families and life in general, his hard work over time has created a significant following both in and out of Texas.

This Saturday night, North Carolina gets to experience Watson and his band, Orphans of the Brazos, first-hand as he performs on the 103.7 Super Stage at Coyote Joe’s in Charlotte. An awesome place to enjoy a live show, it is guaranteed to be an event you do not want to miss.

Releasing numerous independent albums since his first work, Singers and Songwriters, came out in 1999, Watson has seen a recent surge in his audience over the last six or seven years. His latest record, Vaquero, is a 16-song marathon filled with hit after hit.

Named for the Spanish horseman that originated into the modern day American cowboy, Watson epitomizes the relentless work ethic necessary to succeed. His efforts are paying off as he remains committed to being himself while enjoying success.

The Underdog, predecessor to Vaquero, was the first time an independent male country artist debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart. Outselling major labels, Watson achieved a milestone that has helped pave the way for other independent artists in this scene.

It won’t change who he is though. Someone who has long been committed to his own style of music and doing things his way.

“It doesn’t really matter whether I’m playing a dancehall in Texas or a stadium tour around the world, I’m just me,” he says. “I won’t change. I’m just too rooted in what I believe in. When you’ve played for such a long time to nobody, now that there’s somebody, you really don’t take that for granted.”

There is somebody now and this weekend it could be you. Make plans to be in attendance on Saturday night as Watson and his band roll into town. If you’re unfamiliar but appreciate real country music, you will be a fan from the very first note.

Come see for yourself.

Doors at 7:00pm, purchase tickets here.

Live Review: MerleFest 2018, Friday

One of the largest music festivals in the world, MerleFest, recently took place here in North Carolina…

MerleFest 2018 began on a rainy Thursday evening but Friday’s weather could not have been more perfect. A more festival feeling took over the grounds of Wilkes Community College as attendees filled their seats early in the day and were set up for the long haul. Performances taking place across 11 different stages at various times throughout the day helped to break up the crowd while the valley in front of the Watson Stage remained near capacity.

Artists were in and out of their various appearances as fans were entertained and individuals had more than a fair share of opportunities to see and hear whatever they wanted. Throughout the day, a few of the sets stood out above the rest as we made our way through what would unfortunately be our final day of the festival.

Brandy Clark

The Washington native singer/songwriter took to the Watson Stage on Friday afternoon a bit behind schedule but well worth the wait. Clark got the attention of everyone with her story telling capabilities and detailed lyrics behind many of her songs from her most recent album, “Big Day in a Small Town.”

Never one to mince words, Clark wowed those on hand with hits like, “Girl Next Door“, the title track “Big Day in a Small Town” and “Daughter” – a revenge song of which Clark is particularly proud. Looking around during her set, there were many on hand who were familiar with her work but it is also a safe assumption that Clark gained many new fans by putting together a well rehearsed set and connecting to the audience via her small town stories to which many on hand could relate.

Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer with Sam Gleaves

Earlier in the afternoon, the duo of Fink and Marxer with special guest Sam Gleaves entertained the main stage crowd from the front porch of the Cabin Stage. One of our favorite pre-festival interviews, Fink and Marxer are prevelant members in the folk music community having won multiple GRAMMY Awards while creating original music for fans of all ages.

Rosie and the Riveters

Making their North Carolina and MerleFest debut, Rosie and the Riveters brought their unapologetic approach to many of today’s controversial issues through song to the crowd – also from the Cabin Stage. The female trio recently released their second album, “Ms. Behave” and included the title track into their unfortunately brief 25-minute set.

Jamey Johnson

Country music icon Jamey Johnson concluded the main stage lineup to end night two of MerleFest. Johnson beckons the memory of many past entertainers who can captivate an audience with simply a guitar and his voice. There is no need for flashing lights, background tracks, computerized sounds or anything not man made live when Johnson is on stage.

The simplicity of his set, where Johnson shines as he doesn’t work from a list but instead plays anything he pleases, is anything but … while his entertainment value reaches peak perfection. Earlier in the afternoon, Johnson shared his thoughts on a number of subjects via an interview with many of the media members on hand.

When asked about his favorite writer, Johnson said, “Nobody turns a phrase like [Kris] Kristofferson.” The Texas legend who had graced the Watson Stage just one night prior. It was an epic ending to the second day of MerleFest here in North Carolina.

The weekend continued as many more artists and entertainers graced numerous stages throughout the complex over Saturday and Sunday. The MerleFest experience is unique in a variety of ways and should definitely be attended, regardless of the lineup – which is annually too good to pass up.

Taking place over the last weekend of April every year, go ahead and prepare for the thirty-second installment set to occur next year.

Live Review: MerleFest 2018, Thursday

One of the largest music festivals in the world, MerleFest, took place last weekend, here in North Carolina…

MerleFest may have gotten off to a rainy start but the lineup and performances happening on Thursday kept everyone entertained, warm and ready to party. The annual festival regularly draws crowds over 75,000 to the rural northwestern North Carolina town of Wilkesboro (population 3,554) and the city along with Wilkes Community College are both inviting hosts.

Beginning with parking and shuttle rides from off site locations, the volunteers manning lots and bus drivers greet every guest with a smile and warm welcome. Most in attendance and everyone working appeared to be in a great mood – music has that capability and live performances kicking off an epic weekend in the mountains for MerleFest was guaranteed not to disappoint.

Gates opened at 2:30pm on Thursday for Day 1 and the crowds pouring into the venue were greeted by the Kruger Brothers on the Watson Stage (main stage) with a set beginning just thirty minutes later. The international born brothers (Switzerland) settled in Wilkesboro and have become an iconic group within the folk genre.

One patron in attendance referred to MerleFest as the “Coachella” of Bluegrass but the lineup often features groups and performances from a variety of musical genres – though most do possess folk or bluegrass origins and tendencies.

The Thursday lineup took a turn south for Texas following the opening set of MerleFest as each of the next three performers hail from the Lone Star State. Shinyribs got things going, followed by Kris Kristofferson and Robert Earl Keen before another band with ties to the Texas music industry, The Mavericks, closed out opening day.

Shinyribs

If you have never witnessed Shinyribs live, then make it a point to find them wherever they are and go see a show. Just the introduction along before Kevin Russell comes sashaying onto the stage is worth any price of admission. Known for his flamboyant wardrobe selections, Russell greeted the MerleFest audience with a purple suit and bright pink tie.

While the rains began during their hour long set, it didn’t deter the crowd who was up and dancing along with every beat by the end. Russell, the combination of Shiny Soul Sisters with Tijuana Trainwreck Horns backed by the rest of the band form a funky-roots outfit that entertained with both originals and a few covers.

Kris Kristofferson

The iconic Kris Kristofferson made his MerleFest debut on Thursday night and fans in attendance seemed to genuinely appreciate the contributions to music made from such a legendary superstar.

Backed by The Strangers, Merle Haggard’s original band and son Ben, Kristofferson doled out 18 songs and an encore before calling it a night. A member of country supergroup, The Highwaymen, featuring Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, his original songs and those he wrote have been performed by numerous other artists since their inception.

Kristofferson gave way to Ben Haggard during his father’s “Okie from Muskogee,” much to the delight of the crowd. Ben is a rising star in his own right and playing alongside the storied Kristofferson will only serve to bolster his pedigree.

Kristofferson setlist:
-Shipwrecked in the 80’s
-That’s The Way Love Goes
-Darby’s Castle
-Me and Bobby McGee
-Here Comes That Rainbow
-Help Me Make It Through The Night
-Okie From Muskogee
-Casey’s Last Ride
-Loving Her Was Easier
-Just the Other Side of Nowhere
-Sing Me Back Home
-The Pilgrim
-Jesus Was A Capricorn
-Stay Here And Drink
-Sunday Morning Coming Down
-For The Good Times
-A Moment of Forever
-Why Me

Encore:
-Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends

Robert Earl Keen

Fellow Texan, Robert Earl Keen was up next on the Watson Stage as both the rain and crowd excitement intensified. Keen managed to transform a valley full of festival goers into what felt like a small listening room with his stories and upbeat songs like, “Hot Corn, Cold Corn” and “Feelin’ Good Again”.

Keen also allowed bassist and songwriter, Bill Whitbeck a.k.a. “Rusty Pliers,” to assist the crowd in spelling New Braunfels, during a performance of “Copenhagen” that he promised a member of the media he would play during his set.

An impressive musical performance came to a rousing conclusion with Keen’s anthem, a finale of “The Road Goes On Forever” that had everyone in attendance up on their feet and in appreciation of both the musical talents of Keen and his band.

Robert Earl Keen setlist:
-Hot Corn
-Shades
-Feelin’ Good Again
-Twisted Laurel
-Copenhagen
-Bass
-If I Were King
-Man Behind Drums
-I Gotta Go
-Road

The Mavericks

Finally, the Latin influenced group of Tex-Mex and rockabilly song styles of The Mavericks brought the first night of MerleFest to a close on the main Watson Stage. While performances kept going into the night by other groups on other stages, of which MerleFest has 14, the main events were over.

Off to a rainy beginning, the performances by each of the artists on the main stage were well worth battling the elements and many in the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Preparations were made, tarps were ascended and ponchos were on hand as a majority of the crowd was ready for the MerleFest opening main stage lineup come rain, wind, hail or high water.

And it was well worth the sacrifice.

Red Dirt NC: Weekend Watch, April 27-29

MerleFest highlights the weekend in Wilkesboro but live music is happening throughout all of North Carolina…

The 31st annual MerleFest kicked off on Thursday night behind a spectacular lineup of artists, especially those from Texas. Shinyribs, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Earl Keen all graced the Watson stage in front of a crowd that wouldn’t be discouraged by a little rainfall.

Fortunately, the forecast for the remainder of the festival looks amazing as there are many other wonderful artists to see and hear all weekend long. If you can’t make it to Wilkesboro, then be on the lookout for another one of these events happening across the state this weekend!

FRIDAY – APRIL 27, 2018

MerleFest – See the full schedule and lineup of events for Day Two here.

Jamey Johnson – MerleFest
Rodney Crowell – MerleFest
Brandy Clark – MerleFest
Mandolin Orange – MerleFest

John Moreland – The Ramkat, Winston-Salem

“In churches learning how to hate yourself/Ain’t grace a wretched old thing” he sings, the song called “Ain’t We Gold.” Big Bad Luv is unmistakably a rock ‘n’ roll record. If, that is, one understands the term to include Ray Wylie Hubbard, John Hiatt, and Lucero. Or The Band, maybe. Insistent songs, coming from a voice as elegant as unfinished barn wood, songs which insist upon their words being heard.

Corey Hunt Band – Old Dallas Brewery, Dallas

“Hunt’s songwriting ranges from sincere romanticism to outlaw rebellion, and their do-it-yourself approach to booking, recording, and gigging has given them the freedom to explore and expand their music as they grow.  With room to grow and momentum on their side, their crowd-pleasing and relatable take on modern roots music is poised for bigger and better things every time they hit the stage or the studio.”

Todd Snider – Salvage Station, Asheville

Described as “one of the sharpest, funniest storytellers in rock” by Rolling Stone and “an exceptional songwriter” by NPR’s Fresh Air, Snider uses his narrative chops to keep the world of ‘Eastside Bulldog’ poignant, acerbic and hilarious.

Jonathan Parker – City Tap, Pittsboro

Independent and traditional country music. Rising local artist within the genre featuring original songs and a few classic covers from some of your favorite outlaws.

SATURDAY – APRIL 26, 2018

MerleFest – See the full schedule and lineup of events for Day Three here.

Moo and Brew Fest in Charlotte.
Charley Crockett – Moo and Brew Fest
Shovels and Rope – Moo and Brew Fest

Caitlyn Smith – Evening Muse, Charlotte

From small-town Minnesota to the stages of Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits festival, Caitlyn Smith is now living a dream she’s had from a very young age—and with the release of the mature, masterful Starfire, there’s no telling what happens from here.

The Black Lillies – Reeves Theatre, Elkin

With a new configuration, new songs and the same dedication to touring, the Lillies continue to sink their roots deep into the Americana landscape.

Corey Smith – The Orange Peel, Asheville

Now, however, Corey is focused squarely on the future. As the new album title suggests, he’s ready to make a determined grab at country’s brass ring while the gettin’ is good. And with Keith Stegall and Sugar Hill Records behind him, the gettin’ has never been better.

Todd Snider – Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte

A second opportunity this weekend!

SUNDAY – APRIL 29, 2018

MerleFest – See the full schedule and lineup of events for Day Four here.

Shovels and Rope – The Blind Tiger, Greensboro

Mandolin Orange – Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre, Wilmington


Look for us out on the road this weekend and enjoy the shows! Don’t forget, keep spreading the love, one song at a time…

MerleFest 2018: Kris Kristofferson

As MerleFest 2018 approaches, a highlight from one of the 100+ performing acts will be featured daily…

Kris Kristofferson has been making things happen his entire life. Born in Texas and raised in a military family, he was a Golden Gloves boxer who studied creative writing at Pomona College in California. The Phi Beta Kappa graduate earned a Rhodes scholarship to study literature at Oxford, where he boxed, played rugby and continued to write songs. After graduating from Oxford, Kristofferson served in the army as an Airborne Ranger helicopter pilot and achieved the rank of Captain. In 1965, Kristofferson turned down an assignment to teach at West Point and, inspired by songwriters like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, moved to Nashville to pursue his music.

After struggling in Music City for several years, Kristofferson achieved remarkable success as a country songwriter at the start of the 1970s. His songs “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and “For the Good Times,” all chart-topping hits, helped redefine country songwriting. By 1987, it was estimated that more than 450 artists had recorded Kristofferson’s compositions.

Heralded as an artist’s artist, the three-time GRAMMY winner has recorded 29 albums, including three with pals Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings as part of the Highwaymen. Kristofferson has spent three decades performing concerts all over the world, in most recent years in a solo acoustic setting, which puts the focus on the songs. “There’s an honesty in the sparseness. It feels like direct communication to the listener,” he says. “I still have more fun when I’m with the band, but being alone is freer, somehow. It’s like being an old blues guy, just completely stripped away.”

In addition to many other awards, Kristofferson is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, winner of the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriter Hall of Fame, and was honored with the American Veteran’s Association’s “Veteran of the Year Award” in 2002. For Kristofferson’s 70th birthday in 2006, his friends and admirers gifted him with a tribute CD, The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson. Stars including Willie Nelson, Russell Crowe, Emmylou Harris, Gretchen Wilson, Rosanne Cash, and Brian McKnight recorded 17 of Kristofferson’s compositions for the tribute. In 2007, Kristofferson was honored with the Johnny Cash Visionary Award from Country Music Television and in 2009 BMI lauded Kristofferson with the Icon Award. He received the Frances Preston Music Industry Award from the T.J. Martell Foundation in March, 2012. In 2014, Kristofferson was honored with a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and the PEN Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award.

Bio courtesy of www.kriskristofferson.com

Make sure you’re there for Kris Kristofferson on Thursday afternoon (April 26) during Day One of MerleFest!

Thursday, 5:45pm-6:45pm (Watson Stage)

View the full MerleFest schedule and stage lineup here.