The Americana music festival MerleFest has announced their 2021 dates and lineup. MerleFest will take place in Wilkesboro, North Carolina from Sept. 16 through Sept. 19. Tickets go on sale June 10, 2021.
The MerleFest lineup features a number of notable artists, including Sturgill Simpson, Melissa Etheridge, Mavis Staples, Margo Price, JOHNNYSWIM, The Milk Carton Kids, Jim Lauderdale and The Waybacks. The full lineup is below.
Sturgill Simpson recently released a cover of the late John Prine’s “Paradise,” ahead of his announced cover album, Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: The Songs of John Prine, Vol. 2. Last year, Simpson released a studio album called Cuttin Grass, Vol. 1. Mxdwn author Ben Bryson reviewed the album, writing “Overall, Sturgill has put together another incredible album. The few Sturgill Simpson doubters in the world may argue that an album of covers of one’s own music lacks innovation; however, being able to rework one’s own music in a new and interesting way requires a level of creativity that does not come around often. When this creativity and innovation are crossed with great music and transcendent talent, you find Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1.”
Margo Price recently released a new song called “Long Live the King,” as a tribute to her heroes Elvis Presley, Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon. Previously, Price exclusively performed “Long Live the King” at her live sets. Recently, Price became the first woman to join Farm Aid’s board of directors. She also performed with both Nathaniel Rateliff and Loretta Lynn earlier in 2021.
Mavis Staples, in addition to performing at MerleFest, will perform at the Newport Jazz Festival. Last year, she released a song with Jeff Tweedy called “All In It Together,” with the proceeds of that song going to the Chicago charity My Block My Hood My City.
MerleFest was founded in 1988 as a tribute to musicians Eddie Merle Watson and Doc Watson. The genre of the festival is “traditional plus,” centering on traditional folk and bluegrass musicians as well as newer, out of genre artists.
Photo Credit: Kalyn Oyer