My Name Is Merle documentary debuts at MerleFest ’23

MerleFest has some big news to announce as they celebrate their 35th year in 2023, and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Doc Watson, who launched the festival in 1988 in memory of his son, Eddy Merle Watson, who had died in a tragic farm accident.

On Saturday, April 29, at 4:30 p.m., MerleFest will offer a debut screening of a new documentary film about the festival, titled My Name Is Merle. Directed by Robert Kinlaw, the film chronicles the three and a half decade history of the festival, and all the good it has done for the rural North Carolina communities around Wilkesboro, where the event is sited.

Kinlaw says that he still feels the festival’s foundational push all this time after its founding.

“What’s amazing is that after 35 years of growth, the festival is still a volunteer-driven fundraiser. The proceeds provide education for local people, directly contributing to economic mobility in the area. I hope you enjoy this exploration into the fascinating traditions of North Carolina mountain music, and the festival that continues them today!”

Following the afternoon screening, My Name Is Merle, produced by Education NC, will be released for free viewing online at either the EducationNC web site or the MerleFest YouTube channel.

Here’s a brief teaser…

Also newly announced are the bands invited to the 2023 MerleFest Band Competition:

  • Ashes & Arrows (Asheville, NC)
  • Casey Noel (Greensboro, NC)
  • Crystal Fountains (Charlotte, NC)
  • Colin Cutler (Greensboro, NC)
  • The Greenliners (Asheville, NC)
  • The Letter Show (Charleston, SC)
  • Red Eye Gemini (Charlotte, NC)
  • Reedy River String Band (Greenville, SC)

And the organization is pleased to share that the official MerleFest archives dating back to 1988, which have been donated to the Appalachian State University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, are now available for public viewing. While only selected items are now viewable, the complete archives are being prepared for the online archive.

As always, full details about the 2023 edition of MerleFest are accessible online.

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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.