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What Was the Best Thing I Saw At Merlefest 2023?

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  • jrausch

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    Just after the lightning break on Friday, my friend and I went to the traditional stage to see the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band. I had seen them earlier at the Walker Center. We waited and waited, but nothing was going on. Then a group of kids (I later learned 13, 13 and 12 years old) started playing just under the edge of the tent by the stage. At first everyone was talking about this and that, but it didn’t take long before it was very quite, like during a performance. It was a performance! They were good, very good.

    They cancelled John Jorgenson (I think because of travel schedules because everyone else was only delayed) and were waiting for Dom Flemons to come from the Cabin Stage. Just before he got there, Laura Boosinger passed the hat. The kids didn’t know. They were totally surprised when she took it up to then, then announced, “that was a real Merlefest Moment. More applause!

    Made my day, my Merlefest.


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    Very sweet moment indeed. At the Americana stage Laney Lou & the Bird Dogs stepped up to edge of stage to play and sing acoustically “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” that we all sang along to!

    My favorite moment was at MandoMania where I was delighted to see young Wyatt Ellis (14!) in the lineup at the far right. Sam Bush was front and center so when he introduced his selection from Bill Monroe he shared a story about a Bill Monroe performance where in the middle of his jam he raised his right hand in the air and Sam thought, “Wow! He’s so good he can play with one hand!” Everyone laughed and the tune began. As the feature player rotated to Wyatt the young man proceeded to pick amazingly and then very shyly extend his fret hand out to his side while continuing the jam! Only a few people caught it and the grin on Wyatt’s face was priceless! I happened to see him waiting on a golf cart next to the Merch Tent on Sunday and got the pleasure of thanking him for that moment! I just asked that next time he wave that hand high, he is that good!

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