again, this year, I had the great pleasure of being able to
attend Merlefest. The festival was huge this year with yet
another record turnout. The weather was magnificent, ensuring
a fantastic musical experience for the massive audience.
All the regular stalwarts
were there, including amongst others:
Doc Watson, Jack Lawrence,
Tony Rice, Bryan Sutton, Jorma Kaukonen, Roy Bookbinder, Jerry
Douglas, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, The Kruger Brothers….
as usual, some wonderful, wonderful music.
The highlights for
me this year were, Mark O’Connor on fiddle, Chris Thile
on Mandolin and Bryan Sutton on guitar – sheer wizardry!
Another fantastic act was, Russ Barenberg , Jerry Douglas
and Edgar Meyer, who played the whole Skip, Hop and Wobble
album on the Watson stage. Without a doubt the most memorable
performance was, Natalie McMasters: The fiddle player and
Celtic dancer, with her fabulous band. She played an assortment
of Scottish music from the Cape Bretton Islands of Nova Scotia
– awesome stuff! I also attended a fascinating guitar
workshop, that demonstrated Appalachian finger style and claw
hammer techniques. During the workshop, we were entertained
by 10 incredible finger pickers, which made me want to take
up carpentry and nail my guitars to the wall. I just couldn’t
believe the stuff they were doing. Fingers everywhere - they
make it look so easy.
an all round memorable experience!
“Dawg” Grisman in action, with his world
famous David Grisman Quintet.
Collings junkies at the Collings stand at Merlefest.
Collings had some incredible guitars on display. We
had some great picking sessions at the stand. Seated
is Rick Mitchell, holding a Winfield model – a
stunning guitar. Standing, is Ron Shuffler, well known
bluegrasser, and myself. It just happened to be coincidence,
that we were all wearing the same T shirts on the same
day – not staged!
star of the show – she had the audience of Merlefest
in the palm of her hand – Natalie McMasters, a
wonderful fiddler and dancer from The Cape Bretton Islands,
Nova Scotia. What a fabulous performance to have been
privileged enough to watch.