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Thousands sit on the campus of Wilkes Community College during the 25th MerleFest in 2012. Photo courtesy of Gordon Burns.

Originally published: 2012-11-12 15:22:01
Last modified: 2012-11-12 15:22:01

MerleFest ticket sales start Tuesday

The MerleFest box office opens Tuesday for the spring 2013 festival — the first to be planned without legendary picker Doc Watson.

In Doc’s absence, the festival directors will continue with a lineup that includes traditional, Appalachian music, bluegrass, old-time, Americana, blues, country zydeco, rock and more.

On Saturday evening, fans can expect special remembrances of Watson, including a performance by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which worked with him on their classic Will The Circle Be Unbroken album. An all-star tribute to Doc Watson also will be assembled by mandolin virtuoso and longtime friend Sam Bush.

“This year’s festival will celebrate the life and music of our dear friend Doc Watson, who passed away on May 29,” said festival director Ted Hagaman. “For the past 25 years, he has been the artistic and spiritual center of this festival, so this year, we will come together as a family to pay special tribute to the man and the musician who meant so much to us all.”

The initial lineup, announced last week, includes the Charlie Daniels Band, the quintessential Southern rockers who have attracted multiple generations with classics that include “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “The South’s Gonna Do it Again” and “Long Haired Country Boy.”

More than 80 musicians and bands are slated to perform, and the full list is available online at

“MerleFest fans know, as the lineup continues to develop in the coming months, it will offer quite a few surprises — let's just say it's going to be a big year!" said Steve Johnson, artist relations manager for MerleFest.

The festival is slated for April 25-28 at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. Tickets are available online at or by calling 1-800-343-7857. An early bird discount ticket is available through March 10, 2013.

“From the beginning, Doc and his wife, RosaLee, wanted this festival to honor the memory of their beloved son, Eddy Merle,” Hagaman said. “In the many conversations I’ve had with Doc through the years, he made clear that it was his desire to keep MerleFest as a quality event, with a focus both on family and providing a diverse collection of music. Going forward, it will be our honor to carry on that tradition.”