MerleFest 2019 Preview

By Samir Shukla

The serene sounds of the Appalachians, American music and more, with chatting banjos, guitars, the harmonizing vocalists, piano, drums, will once again fill the air at MerleFest.

The annual family-geared music festival, sorry no booze served, is spread over four days in the foothills of North Carolina. Music literally fills every corner and hilltop at various indoor and outdoor stages of varying sizes. Organizers tag MerleFest as a celebration of “traditional plus" music of the Appalachian region. I say it's a celebration of music. Period. You can expect plenty of bluegrass, country, rock, Celtic, folk, gospel, blues and more. Over the past several years, I've learned to jaunt about the stages, spread around on the campus of Wilkes Barre Community College, to make the most of the performances.

One of many special features this year include the Steep Canyon Rangers premiering the “North Carolina Songbook" set on the Watson stage on Sunday afternoon, which will feature the band covering music from NC luminaries including Earl Scruggs, James Taylor, Thelonious Monk and many more.

Among the dozens of performers lined up this year, highlights include Brandi Carlile, The Trailblazers, Pete Wernick, Si Kahn, The Avett Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers, and Wynonna and the Big Noise.

MerleFest, founded in 1988, is held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, NC. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Foundation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.

MerleFest takes place April 25 – 28, 2019. Full artist lineup and other details can be found at


Samir Shukla is the editor of Saathee magazine. Contact -