Festival set to honor founder Doc Watson’s 100th birthday and 35 years of MerleFest on April 27-30, 2023, in Wilkesboro, North Carolina
MerleFest, presented by Window World, has just added another huge list of performers to its already stacked 2023 lineup—which featured headliners like The Avett Brothers and Maren Morris. Taking place April 27-30, 2023, on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, MerleFest attendees will have the chance to see boogie-rock masters Little Feat, next-generation guitar slinger Marcus King, living country music legend Tanya Tucker, Miko Marks’ blend of country, blues, southern rock and gospel, and many more take to the festival’s multiple weekend stages.
2023 will mark MerleFest’s 35th festival and will honor Doc Watson’s 100th birthday year. To celebrate the historic milestone event, organizers intend to feature MerleFest’s unique history and present unique collaborations to honor the festival’s founding folk icon. From the flatbed trailer stage at the 1988 Eddy Merle Watson Memorial Festival to today, and looking into the future, MerleFest will continue to draw fans from all over the world to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains each spring to make music, moments, and memories together.
In addition to those mentioned above, the following bands and artists have been added to the MerleFest 2023 lineup: AJ Lee & Blue Summit, Alison Brown, Andy Cohen, Anna Lynch, Bee Taylor, Brothers Comatose, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, Cole Chaney, Compton & Newberry, Dom Flemons, I Draw Slow, Lightnin’ Wells, The Local Honeys, Nigel Wearne, Stillhouse Junkies, Taylor Rae, Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive, Todd Albright, Tommy Prine, Yasmin Williams, and The Youngers.
These newly-added artists will join MerleFest’s previously-announced lineup: The Avett Brothers, Maren Morris, Black Opry Revue, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, Andy May, Banknotes, Carol Rifkin, Charles Welch, Donna the Buffalo, Jack Lawrence, Jeff Little Trio, Jim Lauderdale, Joe Smothers, Kruger Brothers, Laura Boosinger, The Local Boys, Mark Bumgarner, Mitch Greenhill & Mitch’s Kitchen, Pete & Joan Wernick, Presley Barker, Roy Book Binder, Scythian, T. Michael Coleman, The InterACTive Theater of Jef, The Waybacks, Tony Williamson, and Wayne Henderson.
MerleFest 2023 Tickets are available now. For general admission passes, as well as patio seating, reserved seating, camping, parking, and more, please visit merlefest.org/purchase.
About Little Feat (appearing Thursday evening): Little Feat is the classic example of a fusion of many styles and musical genres made into something utterly distinctive. Their brilliant musicianship transcends boundaries, uniting California rock, funk, folk, jazz, country, rockabilly, and New Orleans swamp boogie into a rich gumbo, that has been leading people in joyful dance ever since. It began in 1969 when Frank Zappa was smart enough to fire Lowell George from the Mothers of Invention and tell him to go start a band of his own. Soon after, Lowell connected with Bill Payne, which stirred up sparks. They then found drummer Richie Hayward. They were quickly signed by Warner Bros. and began working on the first of twelve albums with that venerable company. The first album, Little Feat, featured the instant-classic tune “Willin’,” and the follow-up album Sailin’ Shoes added “Easy to Slip,” “Trouble,” “Tripe Face Boogie,” “Cold Cold Cold” and the title track to their repertoire. Paul Barrére, Kenny Gradney (bass), and Sam Clayton (percussion) joined up, and the latter two remain rock-solid members of Little Feat’s rhythm section.1973’s Dixie Chicken gave them the title track and “Fat Man in the Bathtub,” as good a blues as any rock band has ever written. Their career to that point was summed up with the live Waiting for Columbus, truly one of the best live albums rock has ever heard. Fifty years on the road cost them Lowell George, then Richie Hayward and Paul Barrére, but the music has carried them forward. When you spend your life on the road you can get eaten up by the stresses, or you can hold on to your music and your friends and the joy of the people out front and keep the priorities straight the way the Featsters have. Little Feat in 2023 is: Bill Payne, keyboards and vocals; Sam Clayton, percussion and vocals; Fred Tackett, guitars and vocals; Kenny Gradney, bass; Scott Sharrard, guitars and vocals; and Tony Leone, drums. Fifty years on, they’ve been up and they’ve been down and they know where they belong—standing or sitting behind their instruments, playing for you. And anything’s possible because the end is not in sight.
About Marcus King (appearing Friday evening): GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist, performer, and songwriter Marcus King was downright destined to play music. By eight years old, the fourth-generation Greenville, South Carolina native performed alongside pops, grandpa, and his uncles for the first time. Logging thousands of miles on the road as “The Marcus King Band,” he established himself with unparalleled performance prowess and a dynamic live show. In between packing venues on his own, he performed alongside Chris Stapleton, Greta Van Fleet, and Nathaniel Rateliff in addition to gracing the bills of Stagecoach and more with one seismic show after the next. Along the way, he caught the attention of Rick Rubin and signed to American Recordings. Plugged into his old man’s dusty amp with a ’59 Les Paul in hand, Marcus set out to make a rock ‘n’ roll record in 2022. He didn’t disguise his ambitions at all. He didn’t hold back. He didn’t think about anything but writing from the gut, shooting from the hip, and playing straight from the heart. Joined by Auerbach, he made the kind of rock ‘n’ roll record that makes arenas shake, and it’s called Young Blood [American Recordings/Republic Records].
About Tanya Tucker (appearing Sunday afternoon): Edgy. Classic. Country. A defining voice of music and a modern-day legend, two-time 2020 Grammy winner Tanya Tucker continues to inspire artists today. Born in Seminole, Texas, Tanya had her first country hit, the classic “Delta Dawn,” at the age of 13 in 1972. Since that auspicious beginning, she has become one of the most admired and influential artists in country music history, amassing 23 Top 40 albums and a stellar string of 56 Top 40 singles, ten of which reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard country charts. Tanya’s indelible songs include some of country music’s biggest hits such as the aforementioned “Delta Dawn,” “Soon,” “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane,” “It’s a Little Too Late,” “Trouble,” “Texas (When I Die),” “If It Don’t Come Easy” and “Strong Enough To Bend.” Tanya is also the recipient of numerous awards, including two CMAs, two ACMs, and three CMT awards. In 2020, Tanya received two GRAMMY® Awards for Best Country Album: While I’m Livin’ and Best Country Song: “Bring My Flowers Now.” In the fall of 2020, Fantasy Records released Tanya Tucker — Live From The Troubadour on October 16, the one-year anniversary of Tanya’s historic, standing-room-only set from which it originates. Tanya was in the midst of resurgent visibility and acclaim generated by her Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings produced While I’m Livin’ album released two months earlier — so the brief stand in front of the West Hollywood tastemaker crowd took on a palpable air of significance. As someone who’s been center stage for more than 50 years, Tanya is donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the album directly to The Troubadour. In October 2022, “The Return of Tanya Tucker, Featuring Brandi Carlile,” a documentary that chronicles the resurgence in Tucker’s career following the success of her 2019 album While I’m Livin’, will be released in theatres globally via Sony Pictures Classics. Later this year, Tanya will also star in a new holiday movie, “A Nashville Country Christmas,” slated for Paramount and CMT networks.
About Miko Marks (appearing Friday): The Wall Street Journal has described it as a “genre and industry-defying mission.” NPR declared it a “multilayered experience.” The New York Times commended the movement as carving out a new path in country music. All tell the story of Miko Marks’ resurgence as she deftly blends country, blues, southern rock, and even gospel to create a sound and experience that has literally brought every audience to its feet. This new sound along with her warm and soulful spirit catapulted her into a community of change with her doing more than breaking ground – she’s shattering it. It’s a serendipitous realization that Marks was meant to be here, at this time, in this moment, for good.
After releasing her critically-acclaimed album, Our Country (via Redtone Records) in March 2021, Marks dove headfirst into an industry that previously never fully embraced her. She closed out 2021 with her EP release, “Race Records,” which shined a light on the arbitrary divisions forced upon artists and audiences in the early days of music marketing in the 1940s. In January of this year, Marks was named to CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2022 and by April, she stood alongside five other artists and managers chosen to participate in the inaugural Equal Access Development Program, a program designed by m theory and CMT to foster and support marginalized communities underrepresented in the genre of country music.
Feel Like Going Home is an amalgamation of where Marks has been and where she is going. What she has learned and what she wants to teach. It’s an innermost look at the ebb and flow of her past, present, and future. It’s the stories she wants to tell but hasn’t been able to speak into existence ever before. The messages are profound: healing, restoration, and distinctly individual.