MerleFest allows for lots of collaboration between artists but it also allows for musicians to be authentic to who they are. When I was in the presser with Keb Mo today and he was asked about how his music was going to fit into the festival he said that the music is music and that is what makes MerleFest what it is. This was a very good point. During the Hillside Album Hour, many artists work together to collaborate on a classic rock album, together they create a bluegrass style but this is only thanks to organizers allowing for individuality. Being you, not showing off, as Doc would’ve wanted it. That is MerleFest.
Today I saw various acts at MerleFest including Scythian and Steve Poltz (who, I had never heard of before and was pleasantly surprised by). I did dodge the rain and catch both the end of Andy May’s Appalachian Traditions set and the beginning of the set in which many artists including David Hot, T. Michael Coleman, and Jack Lawerence told stories about Doc Watson. It struck me how familiar the artists were with both each other and other long time festival-goers. I decided to sum up the simple, familiar feeling of Merlefest with a haiku.
Hey out there and you
Let’s make a memory or
Reflect on the past
If you have never been to MerleFest you should check it out! The fun, the music, the familiarity, are all worth your time.
Stay tuned to hear more about what I Had to Ask, and what I have experienced at MerleFest 2019.
Today is the first day of MerleFest 2019 and I am excited to be here for the 11th year, 8th year covering it. I would like to just write for a minute about mutual admiration. There are somethings that just can’t be recorded. Little things that are missed such as Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, and Bela Fleck messing with each other at a press conference. And other things that aren’t recorded simply because the button to start the recording hadn’t been hit yet.
Today I attended the press conference with Chatham County Line, Dailey and Vincent, and Junior Brown. It was interesting to see the two Chatham County Line members overtaken by the relative stardom of the others at the table. It was also cool to see Junior Brown and Dailey and Vincent excited to see each other perform. Just wanted to share what you learn and observe when you have to ask!
We are days away from MerleFest and I am so psyched. I was able to talk with Evan of Mile 12 about the band, their new album and MerleFest. Listen on to see why I Had to Ask!
You can purchase Mile 12’s new album here:
I talked with the frontwoman the Barefoot Movement about MerleFest, the Hillside Album Hours, and touring. Listen on to see why I Had to Ask!
Side Note: The Hillside Album Hour is a tradition to MerleFest in which an album is redone in a bluegrass/Americana style. The album is kept a secret from the festavarians. Noah sang at the 2016 Hillside Album Hour. She mentions that she had been listening to alot of the Eagles. The 2016 album was The Eagles Greatest Hits.
I talked with rock n’ roll band Wayland at MerleFest 2018. We talked about their music and how it falls into the MerleFest scheme of things.
Naturally, we also talked about the best food they have eaten and advice they have for themselves too.
Listen on to see why I Had to Ask!
The presser on Sunday was crowded and a little hectic so it didn’t naturally lend itself to too much of a theme so to speak.
I did have the opportunity to ask all of the artists at the press conference about their passions outside of music.
Here’s what I found out…
The passions of various members of The Steep Canyon Rangers was wide ranging.
The responses were…
- Being Outdoors
- Music Education
- Fly Fishing
And Graham’s passion was his hot tub.
Alison Brown’s passions are the banjo and the roots music community.
Sam Bush’s passion is baseball (Go Cards).
Steve Martin’s passion is the banjo.
It was really interesting for me to see what musicians are passionate and I was glad that I Had to Ask about musician’s passions.
A big part of MerleFest is the history it has and the legacy it continues to carry. This was a hot topic at yesterday’s press conference.
According to Jerry Douglas MerleFest is different because not only is it the first music festival of the season, it has the most performers so it is like a big family gathering.
John Cowan feels MerleFest is different because it feels good due to the fact that MerleFest embraces different types of music (as Doc wanted).
Jim Lauderdale feels that MerleFest is different because it sticks with the traditions of having musicians like Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas back, but, they also capture the younger generation of performers and invite them in.
MerleFest also proves to be important to the health of bluegrass and traditional plus music.
John Cowan explained that MerleFest allows for great memories of living legends.
Tommy Emmanuel explained that MerleFest is important because it continues a legacy AND hooks the younger generation.
No matter who you talk with you will find that it is incontrovertible that MerleFest as a festival is important to the health of music.
Thanks for reading about what I Had to Ask.
MerleFest 2018 is going great! I have had made many memories, experienced some cool moments, and heard plenty of awesome music!
My Friday picks for best musicians are…
- Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer with Sam Gleaves
- The Waybacks
- Balsam Range and Atlanta Pops Orchestra
- Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn
When with musicians, you’d up talking a lot about music. It turns into a common theme.
In the press conference with Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, Mandolin Orange, and Savannah Smith (and later with Jamey Johnson), we talked about the music that they are listening to in their cars, here were the responses…
- Bela Fleck- Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer’s Children’s Album (with son Juno)
- Abigail Washburn- Compilation Album, “Voices of Mississippi”
- Mandolin Orange- Anna and Elizabeth’s new album, and Hawktail
- Savannah Smith- John Prine’s new album, Tank and the Band
- Jamey Johnson- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
What are you listening to in your car?
Thanks for reading what I Had to Ask!