MerleFest Adds Amos Lee, The Milk Carton Kids, Steep Canyon Rangers and More

Feb 12, 2019

WILKESBORO, N.C. (Feb. 11, 2019) – MerleFest, presented by Window World, is proud to announce new artist additions for MerleFest 2019: Amos Lee, The Milk Carton Kids, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Del McCoury Band, The Casey Kristofferson Band, and David Holt. 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, April 25-28. MerleFest is pleased to welcome these six distinguished acts to the 2019 lineup:

Amos Lee

Amos Lee: Singer-songwriter Amos Lee’s creative take on folk and soul style continues to evolve. Over the course of more than a dozen years and six studio albums, Lee has continued to develop and challenge himself as a musician and now producer. Amos Lee will make his MerleFest debut on Friday evening.

The Milk Carton Kids

The Milk Carton Kids: It seems cliché to compare two guys singing harmonies in suits to Simon & Garfunkel, but for the pair that make up The Milk Carton Kids, there aren’t many other acts who come close to the harmonizing in their songs. Since 2012, The Milk Carton Kids have been making award-winning folk music (American Music Association’s Duo/Group of the year 2014, GRAMMY nominations in 2013, 2015 and 2019) with just two guitars and two voices. Now the Kids are performing with a larger band and fleshing out their sound with drums, double bass, and keyboards-- the approach they take on their fifth album, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do. The change in musical tack abets a set of songs wherein Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale may be at their most personally transparent. The Milk Carton Kids will make their MerleFest debut on Friday evening.

Steep Canyon Rangers

Steep Canyon Rangers: GRAMMY Award-winning Steep Canyon Rangers effortlessly walk the line between festival favorite and sophisticated string orchestra. They’re as danceable as the most progressive, party-oriented string band and equally comfortable translating their songs for accompaniment by a full symphony.

The Steep Canyon Rangers’ set at MerleFest is titled the North Carolina Songbook and is a tribute to this state’s vast musical heritage. The band says, “The influence of North Carolinians can be heard in almost every genre of popular music from Earl Scruggs to John Coltrane. Many of them worked in textile mills by day and played music with friends and family on the weekends. Some were virtuosos who packed up their influences and took the world by storm. All were, like us, a product of the music and people they grew up with in Carrboro, Jacksonville, Eden, Tryon… every corner East to West.”

Doc Watson soaked up and shared more of this state’s music and played fiddle tunes, blues, jazz, country, rock ‘n roll, and everything in between. This has been Doc’s lasting legacy for the Steep Canyon Rangers, and the band is excited to share the North Carolina Songbook for the very first time on Sunday afternoon at MerleFest.

The Del McCoury Band

The Del McCoury Band: Even among the pantheon of music’s finest artists, Del McCoury stands alone. From the nascent sound of bluegrass that charmed hardscrabble hillbilly honkytonks, rural schoolhouse stages, and the crowning glory of the Grand Ole Opry to the present-day culture-buzz of viral videos and digital streams, Del is the living link. On primetime and late-night television talk shows, there is Del. From headlining sold-out concerts to music festivals of all genres, including one carrying his name, there is Del.

Almost unimaginable, McCoury’s fifth decade in a half-century of bluegrass bliss brings new triumphs, new collaborations, and new music. With but a single change in membership in twenty years, The Del McCoury Band shows unprecedented stability as well as garnering the respect and admiration of the industry for its unmistakable work: nine IBMA Entertainer of the Year trophies; in 2003, Del’s membership in the cast of the legendary Grand Ole Opry; and the band’s first Best Bluegrass Album GRAMMY award in ’05, followed by a second win in 2014.

On their latest release, Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass-- a title that echoes his 1968 debut on Arhoolie Records, Del McCoury Sings Bluegrass-- Del and the boys bring home another stellar collection of traditional bluegrass music. With 14 songs brimming with hot licks, classic songcraft, even some boundary-stretching electric guitar, and once again, Del’s matchless vocal delivery, The Del McCoury Band moves up the gold bar standard of bluegrass yet another notch. Del and the boys will celebrate his 80th birthday at MerleFest with a special Hillside Stage set on Sunday afternoon.

The Casey Kristofferson Band

The Casey Kristofferson Band: The Casey Kristofferson Band is a collection of musicians from North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee who blur the line between classic country and a more contemporary sound. The band showcases songs written by Casey Kristofferson, daughter of the legendary Kris Kristofferson, and Andy Buckner (NBC's "The Voice," Season 9) in collaboration with a variety of other talented songwriters.

From foot-stomping rockers to soul-wrenching ballads of love and loss, the songs are reminiscent of the original outlaws she has shared the stage with since childhood. Kristofferson and Buckner trade back and forth seamlessly between lead and harmony vocals while the band adds layered harmonies and blistering instrumental work.

With an all-star cast, CKB consists of Kristofferson on vocals, Buckner on acoustic guitar and vocals, Muddy Welles on banjo and lead guitar, Jim Aaron on harmonica, Zack Page on electric and upright bass, and Nashville’s own Herschel Van Dyke holding down the rhythm. Weaving a story from the nightmares of love and longing through the rise of personal redemption, this band brings a live show not to be missed. The Casey Kristofferson Band will make their MerleFest debut on Friday afternoon.

David Holt

David Holt: David Holt is a four-time GRAMMY Award winning musician, storyteller, radio, and television host. For more than 45 years, the talented multi-instrumentalist has collected and performed the songs and stories of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He learned this treasure trove of music directly from musical greats, including Doc Watson, Roy Acuff and Etta Baker.

From 1998-2012 Holt toured and performed with the legendary Doc Watson. He says, “Doc was truly a great man. Performing and touring with him was a highlight of my career.” In 2002, the duo won two GRAMMY Awards for their classic Legacy, a three-CD set about the inspiring life and music of Doc Watson. Holt currently tours the country performing solo, with Josh Goforth, and with his band the Lightning Bolts. In 2016, Holt was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. David Holt will perform Saturday afternoon at MerleFest.

Tickets for this year’s festival, as well as the Late Night Jam presented by The Bluegrass Situation, may be purchased at or by calling 1-800-343-7857. MerleFest offers a three-tiered pricing structure and encourages fans to take advantage of the extended early bird discount. Early Bird Tier 1 tickets may be purchased until February 17, 2019 and Early Bird Tier 2 tickets will be available February 18 to April 24. Remaining tickets will be sold at the gate during the festival.