Merlefest 2009 will be held the weekend of April 23-26 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. While there are plenty of big names and no-brainers on the line-up, you may be wondering which of the relative unknowns you should check out. If you're headed out to Merlefest, here's a quick and easy list of five bands you don't want to miss in 2009. For a full list of this year's performers, tickets, and a full schedule of events, check out the MerleFest Web site.
Bearfoot is one of the best new bluegrass bands on the scene, and they'll be a far cry from their homestate of Alaska. With a new disc out on Compass Records, they're poised to turn more than a few heads at Merlefest this year.
Belleville Outfit pulls from influences in old school American jazz, folk, and classic-style country music. Their fiddle- and piano-driven tunes are playful and infectious, and their live performances are full of surprises. They're one of the best up-and-coming rootsy bands on the circuit these days, and well worth catching live.
The Dixie Beeliners have been steadily building a buzz over the past year or so, bringing their progressive bluegrass to festivals and clubs all over the country. The Roots Music Association named them Bluegrass Artist of the Year for 2008, and there are sure to be more accolades as the years roll on. If you haven't caught them live yet, this will be as good a chance as any.
The Duhks aren't exactly unknown on the North American festival circuit at this point. But, with their new line-up and recent release Fast-Paced World, they are well worth catching up with on the Merlefest stage.