MerleFest Announces 2018 Initial Lineup and Midnight Jam

MerleFest, presented by Window World, is proud to announce the initial lineup for MerleFest 2018, which will be held April 26 – 29. The annual homecoming of musicians and music fans returns to the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The complete lineup for MerleFest 2018 will be announced over the next few months. Today’s lineup announcement includes legendary artist Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Robert Earl Keen, The Devil Makes Three, Balsam Range and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra Ensemble, “Mission Temple Fireworks Revival” featuring Paul Thorn & Band, the Blind Boys of Alabama and the McCrary Sisters, and many more. The 2018 Midnight Jam presented by The Bluegrass Situation on Saturday, April 28th will start at 10:30 p.m. and run well past midnight, with special hostsTown Mountain and Jim Lauderdale. This very popular after-hours hootenanny gathers many performers from the festival for impromptu artistic collaborations and one-of-a-kind superstar jams that have become legendary in the festival’s history.
Kris Kristofferson – Kris Kristofferson is a three-time Grammy winner who has recorded 30 albums, including three with pals Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings as part of the Highwaymen. Kristofferson has spent three decades performing concerts all over the world and achieved remarkable success as a country songwriter at the start of the 1970s. His songs helped redefine country songwriting, and by 1987, it was estimated that more than 450 artists had recorded Kristofferson’s compositions. In 1977, he earned a Golden Globe for Best Actor and has acted in more than 70 films to date. Kristofferson is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and has been recognized with the Songwriter Hall of Fame’s prestigious Johnny Mercer Award, the Johnny Cash Visionary Award, BMI’s Icon Award, the Francis Preston Music Industry Award, the PEN Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Kristofferson is scheduled to play on Thursday.
Jamey Johnson – Truth and tradition. These non-negotiable principles serve as the bedrock of the music of eleven-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson, who is “one of the greatest country singers of our time,” according to The Washington Post. Indeed, the Alabama native has been acknowledged by many as country music’s north star, guiding us down a path of confession and conflict to a place of reflection and redemption. He has received tremendous praise from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and other publications, many of which have hailed his albums as masterpieces. His influential album, “That Lonesome Song”, was certified platinum for 1 million in sales, and his innovative double album, “The Guitar Song”, which debuted at No. 1 on the country album charts, received a gold certification. In 2012, he released a Grammy-nominated project honoring one of his heroes, Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran. He is one of only a few people in the history of country music to win two Song of the Year Awards – for “Give It Away” and “In Color” – from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. He has written singles for George Strait, Trace Adkins, James Otto, Joe Nichols and others. Johnson is scheduled to play on Friday.
“Today, MerleFest is proud to announce more than 75 artists who are part of the festival’s 2018 lineup, commemorating the 31st year of the festival. MerleFest welcomes back five special artists that haveplayed all 31 years: Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, Joe Smothers, and Jack Lawrence. The initial lineup reflects the musical diversity and quality of performers who are the hallmark of the festival,” says Steve Johnson, MerleFest Artist Relations Manager. MerleFest is known for its unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented music from the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, Americana, blues, country, Celtic, Cajun, cowboy, zydeco, rock and many other styles that the late Doc Watson referred to as “traditional plus.” The initial lineup includes:
Aaron BurdettAlberti Flea CircusAndrew Collins TrioAndy MayAri EisingerAshley Heath and Her Heathens, Banknotes, Bill Mathis, Bob HillBryan SuttonBrynmorCane Mill RoadCardboard Fox,Carol Rifkin, Jeanette Queen, Mark Queen, Cathy Fink and Marcy MarxerCharles WelchCicada RhythmDavid Holt and Josh GoforthDead HorsesDonna the BuffaloDoolinElephant SessionsErin HarpeFlatland Harmony ExperimentFrank Solivan & Dirty KitchenFireside CollectiveGunner & SmithHannah Shira NaimanHappy TraumHorsemen Let’s RideHubby JenkinsHummingbird CrossingJack LawrenceJayme Stone’s FolklifeJeanette Williams BandJeff Little TrioJeffrey FoucaultJody CarrollJoe Mullins and the Radio RamblersJoe Smothers, Junior Appalachian Musicians BandLaura Boosinger & The Midnight PlowboysLauren and LaneLindsay LouLillian ChaseThe Lonesome Ace StringbandLori King and Junction 63Mark BumgarnerMike Aiken Band, Mitch Greenhill, My BubbaThe Note RopersNu-BluPete & Joan WernickPeter RowanPiper Jones,The Po Ramblin’ BoysRichard Ray FarrellRichie and RosieRob Ickes & Trey HensleyRobin and Linda WilliamsRosie & the RivetersRoy Book BinderSam Bush BandSarah Jane ScoutenSavannah Smith and Southern SoulScythianSideline, Smitty and the JumpStartersSteve and Ruth SmithString Madness, T. Michael Coleman Band, Ted Olson, Tennessee Jed FisherTerry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive,The Barefoot MovementThe BattleAxe BandThe East PointersThe HackwellsThe InterACTive Theatre of JefThe Kruger BrothersThe Lang SistersThe Local BoysThe Lonely Heartstring Band,The MastersonsThe Midatlantic, The New River DriftersThe WaybacksThe WildmansSusana and Timmy Abell, Tony Williamson BandUnspoken TraditionVirginia HollowThe Way Down Wanderers, Wayland, Wayne HendersonWesley Bright & The Honeytones, and Whitewater Bluegrass Company.
Additional performers for MerleFest 2018 will be announced in the coming months. The lineup and performance schedule is accessible via
Tickets for next year’s festival, as well as the Midnight Jam, go on sale at noon (EST) November 14, 2017, and may be purchased at or by calling 1-800-343-7857. MerleFest offers athree-tiered pricing structure and encourages fans to take advantage of the extended early bird discount. Early Bird Tier 1 tickets may be purchased from November 14 to February 18, 2018 and Early Bird Tier 2 tickets from February 19 to April 25. Tickets will be sold using Tier 3 pricing at the gate during the festival.