MerleFest 2011 Report: The best in Bluegrass & Americana Music using Fishman

This year’s MerleFest offered a terrific mix of bluegrass legends, well-established artists and some amazing up-and-coming Americana acts. MerleFest was founded in 1988 in Memory of Eddy Merle Watson as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College and to celebrate traditional plus music.

It was also a year when more people than ever before stopped by our booth to tell us how much they loved their Fishman products. Of particular note were the SA220, Loudbox Mini, and Aura - which has established a strong foothold in bluegrass performance thanks to the influence of Fishman artists Jerry Douglas, Stephen Mougin, Zac Brown, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Jim Lauderdale.

Initial figures show that, from its start on Thursday, April 28 to its close on Sunday, May 1, aggregate participation over the festival’s four days’ celebration of “traditional plus” music exceeded 80,000, slightly more than last year.

Four days of beautiful weather, as well as a diverse and fully loaded schedule of artists, were key factors in keeping attendance high. For the second year in a row, first-day festival attendance (Thursday, April 28) was the highest in MerleFest history. Additionally, second-day (Friday, April 29) attendance this year appears to have been the second highest in the festival’s 24 year history. Saturday and Sunday’s numbers are expected to rank in the festival’s top five for their respective days, as well.

“What a great weekend!” exclaimed festival director Ted Hagaman. “With over 90 artists playing on 14 stages, representing everything from bluegrass and blues, to gospel, country and Americana, we feel that we succeeded again in giving our festival guests a great value for their entertainment dollars.”

The legendary Doc Watson performed throughout the weekend including the memorable “Docabilly” set, featuring Doc and friends applying their style to classic pop tunes. The fan- favorite “My Friend Merle” set included friends of Doc’s late son Merle sharing special memories between their favorite songs.

Among the many Fishman artists who performed at this year’s MerleFest: Doc Watson, Rory Block, Robert Plant & Band Of Joy, Roy Book Binder, Alison Brown Quartet, Zac Brown Band, Sam Bush Band, T Michael Coleman, The Doobie Brothers, Jerry Douglas, Viktor Krauss, Paul Germia, David Holt, The Infamous Stringdusters, Jim Lauderdale, Jack Lawrence, Tim O’Brien, Bryan Sutton, Randy Travis, Red Molly, Happy Traum, and Tony Williamson.