Acoustic Kids returns to MerleFest – expanded eligibility in 2021

MerleFest has announced that not only will Andy May’s Acoustic Kids showcase return to the festival this year, eligibility has been expanded for 2021 only to allow young artists to perform who were unable to do so last year during the pandemic shutdowns.

For the past twenty years, Andy has guided young performers at MerleFest through the process of learning something to play in an ensemble on stage. Some students in the program are just getting started on their instruments, while others may have been playing for several years. But in any case, each is guided through positive reinforcement to improve their abilities and enjoy the experience of playing music with others.

More skilled pickers and singers will be matched with players at their level, and students accustomed to performing alone with be afforded that option if they prefer. Three opportunities will be provided for members of Acoustic Kids to play on stage during the festival. Family bands will be accepted as a group, and parents or other adults can serve as an accompanist.

The number of Kids accepted is limited, but there is no charge to participate. Unfortunately, Andy himself will not be able to lead the showcase this year, as the changed MerleFest date for 2021 (September 16-19) presents a conflict for him. But Lauren May and Larry Skipper will be on hand as facilitators, with a special guest on the team in Andy’s place.

Since the 2020 MerleFest was cancelled, the age restriction is modified for this year. Normally the cut off is 16 years old, but just this once, anyone 17 or under as of 4/23/21 will be accepted, so as to allow students who may have aged out since the last edition in 2019 to be involved. A registration form is available online for any young musicians who would like to join in. Submissions will be accepted through August 4.

Full details can be found on the Andy May Acoustic Kids web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.