Merlefest Day 4

Here’s a day 4 report on Merlefest 2011 from Georgia Lowrance, delayed by poor connectivity on Sunday. She provided us daily updates, with photos, from her position on the ground in Wilkesboro last weekend. The bulk of the photos in this post were taken by Jim Gavenus.

Those attending the Midnight Jam (artist & patrons) are working on very little sleep on Sunday morning but that is not gonna stop us from getting up and enjoying the last day of Merlefest. After 3 days of running around trying to catch as many performances as possible, Sunday is usually the more the day for laying back and relaxing. At this point, I’m running on fumes, but the music will get me through the day.

The Spirit of Sunday with Doc Watson and The Nashville Bluegrass band started my morning off over on the Creekside stage. Afterwards, The Infamous Stringdusters, the 2011 Grammy-nominated progressive bluegrass band, took to the Watson Stage. They’ve won three awards at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards ceremony: Emerging Artist of the Year; Album of the Year; and Song of the Year.

Over on the Hillside stage, it was Crooked Still. After 5 years of touring and establishing themselves, flamboyant cellist Rushad Eggleston announced his departure from the group in 2007. This could have been the end for many bands, but they regrouped, are Still Crooked, and remain a popular alternative folk/bluegrass band on the concert and festival circuit.

One of the acts that I somehow did not manage to catch was a band named Blind Boy Chocolate and the Milk Sheiks. As well as trying to cover the festival, I had on my Massage Therapist hat and worked on anyone, and what seemed like everyone at the festival. I can’t tell you how many of them got on the table and talked about how great Blind Boy Chocolate and the Milk Sheiks were.

Sunday was my last chance to catch them and though I tried, I never made it to their show. I had heard through the grapevine that they sold out of all their merch in a hour after playing the dance tent on Friday night. Guess I’m gonna have to keep an eye out for them the next time.

Even though I did miss the Blind Boy Chocolate and the Milk Sheiks, all was not a loss. I caught Tim O’Brien on the Watson stage. Rumor has it that he will be reuniting with Hot Rize next year to play for Merlefest’s 25th Anniversary.

Legendary musician Robert Plant’s new Grammy-nominated project, Robert Plant and the Band of Joy closed out Merlefest 2011. The Band of Joy consist of Marco Giovino, Patty Griffin, Byron House, Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott and of course Robert Plant. As requested by the artist, all media (with the exception of one photographer) were not allowed to cover the performance. Even though that was a bummer, it did not take away from the outstanding performance.

I had seen them play in a small venue a few months back and it blew my mind. This performance was a little different and in a much larger venue than the one I saw previously but my review, “WOW!” It was incredible with a set including songs from the band’s recent Band of Joy album and vast array of other songs picked from each of the individual band members’ catalog. And yes… there were some renditions of some Led Zeppelin songs

The last 4 days have been a blast. Tons of music with very, very little sleep… but who needs sleep when there is soooo much wonderful music to be heard? All during the festival, I kept repeating, “Who needs sleep? I’ll sleep when it’s over.”

It’s over now, so off to sleep I go.

See y’all at the festival next year. Since 2012 is the silver anniversary, I’m sure the line up of artist will top even this one.

A very special thanks to John Lawless from Bluegrass Today for allowing me to cover Merlefest 2011.