MerleFest Rounds Out 2016 With the Addition of John Oates

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MerleFest, presented by Window World and slated for April 28-May 1, 2016, is pleased to announce that John Oates, a legend of American music, will be joining the official 2016 festival lineup as the final addition. With over 100 artists featured, including John Prine, Old Crow Medicine Show, Jason Isbell, Dave Rawlings Machine, Brandi Carlile, The Wood Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers, Tim O’Brien, Tommy Emmanuel, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Alison Brown, Doug Seegers and more, MerleFest 2016 is living up to its reputation as the nation’s annual homecoming of music lovers! John Oates is half of legendary group Hall & Oates. He has been performing quality music for five decades and will be a welcome addition for MerleFest.

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Donna the Buffalo will host the Midnight Jam, sponsored by The Bluegrass Situation. Donna the Buffalo has been fusing American music of all genres since 1989. This popular Saturday after-hours hootenanny gathers together many performers from the festival for impromptu artistic collaborations and one-of-a-kind superstar jams. The Midnight Jam takes place at the Walker Center; a separate ticket is required and available for purchase by four-day ticket holders and Saturday-only ticket holders. Artists confirmed to play the Midnight Jam include Tommy Emmanuel, Peter Rowan, Mipso, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, Wood & Wire, Billy Strings, Becky Buller, South Carolina Broadcasters, Jim Lauderdale, Lindsay Lou and The Flatbellys and Joe Smothers. Additional artists may be added.

Kyle Spark & Tara Nevins of Donna the Buffalo. Photo courtesy of Brian Hensley

Kyle Spark & Tara Nevins of Donna the Buffalo. Photo courtesy of Brian Hensley

“Many years ago, Tony Rice and a few others started the Midnight Jam,” remembers Steve Johnson, Artist Relations Manager at MerleFest. “From there the Midnight Jam has become a highlight of the MerleFest weekend, bringing together unique configurations and surprising ensembles of musicians gathered at the festival. You never know who may walk out from behind the curtain to take the stage on Saturday night in the Walker Center!”

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MerleFest is pleased to unveil the 2016 MerleFest mobile app for the festival. Now available for download, the MerleFest mobile app is offered at no charge to users and features the MerleFest lineup and stage schedules, artist biographies, map, announcements, social media links and more. The app allows users to plan for their entire MerleFest experience. Users who currently have the MerleFest mobile app will receive a prompt on their phones to download the 2016 version of the app. The app is compatible with Android and iOS platforms. A bonus for MerleFest fans: once downloaded, the app will be fully functional without having connection to phone service.

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MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, serves as an annual homecoming for musicians and music fans. Held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of American music legend Doc Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of ‘traditional plus’ music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles. The festival hosts numerous artists performing on 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.

You can find the entire four-day lineup and schedule on the official website. Here is just a sampling of the music — on 13 stages, for real! — daily.


John Prine. Photo courtesy of Brian Hensley

John Prine. Photo courtesy of Brian Hensley

MerleFest kicks off at 2:30 Thursday with Jammin’ at the Pickin’ Place and at 3:00 on the Watson Stage with EmiSunshine. Donna the Buffalo makes its first of many appearances with Peter Rowan and Jim Lauderdale. Also featured are Alison Brown, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Shannon Whitworth and the evening’s headliner, John Prine, who just killed it at Suwannee Springfest.


Jeb Puryear & Kyle Spark of Donna the Buffalo. Photo courtesy of Brian Hensley

Jeb Puryear & Kyle Spark of Donna the Buffalo. Photo courtesy of Brian Hensley

Music begins at 9:30 AM and never lets up all day long. You and a football team couldn’t get to everything. Fortunately, many performers have multiple sets throughout the fest, sometimes two the same day. Take your time perusing the schedule.

Roy Book Binder, Foghorn Stringband, Jerry Douglas, Old Crow Medicine Show, Mike Farris & the Roseland Rhythm Revue, Scythian and… Donna the Buffalo and dozens and dozens of other performances fill the day.


Jim Lauderdale. Photo courtesy of Brian Hensley

Jim Lauderdale. Photo courtesy of Brian Hensley

The big Midnight Jam actually begins at 11:30. Be sure to secure your ticket for that. Also on tap throughout the day (9:30 AM start again) and evening: Carbonleaf, the Sam Bush Band, Dave Rawlings Machine, Doug Seegers, Wood and Wire, the Kruger Brothers, the Wood Brothers, and High Plains Jamboree. And so, so many more.


Brandi Carlile & the Twins. Photo courtesy of Brian Hensley

Brandi Carlile & the Twins. Photo courtesy of Brian Hensley

Once again, music starts early. Throughout the day hear Jim Avett, Brandi Carlile, the Jim Lauderdale Band, Tommy Emmanuel, and the South Carolina Broadcasters. Oh, and… Donna the Buffalo! Jason Isbell has the last set on the Watson Stage at 4:15, and music closes immediately afterward with the playing of “Southbound” by Bill Mathis, Jack Lawrence and T. Michael Coleman.

Good luck getting any sleep! You’re going to need it with this much spectacular music!

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