Merlefest, established to honor N.C. Heritage Award-winning guitarist Doc Watson’s late son, Merle, is a four-day festival marking its 25th anniversary this spring with a diverse lineup of performers including not only Watson and his grandson Richard but also Grammy-winner David Holt, traditional dancer Joe Sam Queen, the Kruger Brothers, children’s entertainers Timmy and Susan Abell and dozens of others. The festival runs Thursday, April 26 through Sunday, April 29 and draws more than 70,000 people from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 10 foreign countries to the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. See the full schedule at merlefest.org.
The fiddle and banjo ensemble tradition that developed in the Round Peak community in Surry County is embraced and emulated by young musicians throughout the world. The Mount Airy Old Time Fiddler’s Convention, originating in 1972, brings thousands of those musicians to Veterans Memorial Park for contests rewarding the best players of bluegrass and old-time fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, dobro, dulcimer and autoharp. Enter contests if you’re inclined, or bring a lawn chair and spend the day listening to competitors of all ages. This year’s convention takes place Friday and Saturday, June 1 and 2. For more information, visit www.mtairyfiddlersconvention.com.
Like the late Earl Scruggs, Charlie Poole created a unique three-finger style of North Carolina banjo playing and had a great influence on the development of bluegrass and modern country music. The Charlie Poole Music Festival, now in its 17th year, honors the Randolph County native with two days of concerts, music competitions, lectures and book signings at Governor Moorehead Park in Eden, where Poole and members of his North Carolina Ramblers worked in textile mills when they weren’t making music in the 1920s and 30s. This year’s festival is scheduled Friday and Saturday, June 8 and 9, features a vocal training workshop with Durham’s Alice Gerrard, who will receive the festival’s 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award. For more information, visit www.charlie-poole.com/index.php.
The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina form the heart of a traditional music-making legacy found nowhere else in America. Learn about the music of the region and places where you can hear it played by visiting Blue Ridge Music Trails: ncartstrails.org/blueridgesmusic/Home.aspx.