Doc Watson & MerleFest

Doc Watson - MerleFest

MerleFestMerleFest was founded in 1988 in Memory of Doc Watson’s son Eddy Merle Watson as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College and to celebrate “traditional plus” music.

MerleFest, which began in 1988, is about the Music, Moments, and Memories. The Music of MerleFest is “traditional-plus” and Doc Watson himself describes it best: “When Merle and I started out we called our music ‘traditional-plus,’ meaning the traditional music of the Appalachian region plus whatever other styles we were in the mood to play. Since the beginning, the people of the college and I have agreed that the music of MerleFest is ‘traditional-plus’.”

The Moments of MerleFest are those unique experiences that only happen here. It may be two musicians you never expected to see collaborating, a shooting star over The Watson Stage during an evening’s closing set, or that one set that seems to have touched everyone in the audience.

The Memories of MerleFest includes the memory of Eddy Merle Watson, who we honor each day with The Tribute to Merle, and the new memories we create each year we come together to celebrate MerleFest. MerleFest is the primary fundraiser for Wilkes Community College.

It all began with a gardener who wanted to raise funds for the campus gardens of a rural North Carolina community college and a group of musicians who wanted to memorialize a fallen friend and his musician father. It grew to an internationally renowned music festival and fundraiser that contributes more than $10 million to the region annually. It’s MerleFest.”

A life-sized bronze statue of music icon Doc Watson, a native of Deep Gap, North Carolina, is completed. The statue was a project of the Downtown Boone Development Association, and the bronze sculpture is located on the northeast corner of the intersection of King and Depot streets where he got his start. The statue, created by noted sculptor Alex Hallmark, features the musician seated on a bench playing his favorite guitar.
Doc Watson
Doc Watson
Doc Watson at The Mast Farm Inn
“Over the past fifty years the guitar has had a very powerful influence on American music. Predominantly a rhythm instrument at the turn of the century, the guitar began to step out of the rhythm section in the 1930’s and 40’s and has maintained a dominant presence in every form of music from rock, to folk, to country, bluegrass, blues, and old-time. While Elvis, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and other pop icons of the 50’s and 60’s certainly played a large role in bolstering the guitar’s popularity, the man who has had the deepest, most enduring, and most profound influence on the way the acoustic flat top guitar is played as a lead instrument in folk, old-time, and bluegrass music today is Arthel “Doc” Watson.” ~ Dan Miller, Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

For More Information
FaceBook •
WebSite •
Article • Over the past fifty years
Article • Doc Watson – Just one of the people
Article • Doc Watson In Boone, North Carolina

The Mast Farm Inn, Historic North Carolina Country Inn & Restaurant, Valle Crucis, NC