MerleFest Doodles 2017 Edition

Another MerleFest done, and it was a fun, music-filled weekend as always. Managed to see quite a bit, and my ‘doodling’ tradition continues with fifteen new sketches from what I saw this year. I posted these on my Instagram as the festival was unfolding, but here I’m offering up better quality scanned versions to enjoy, along with a few notes on each artist.

Mandolin Orange: An old personal favorite, it was great to see them get a spot on the Watson Stage this year. Andrew and Emily sound so good together, and the full band lineup really expands their songs live.

Mandolin Orange

Mark Bumgarner: Not a household name, this songwriter nonetheless captured a morning Hillside audience with great songs. I don’t usually draw mouths much, but his was so expressive I attempted to include it.

Mark Bumgarner

Megan Nash: Canadian and proud of it, her stories of life in the hinterlands of Saskatchewan were amusing if a little foreign to the MerleFest crowd. Great voice, affecting songs, and full of personality.

Megan Nash

Darrin and Brook Aldridge: Stellar playing, great harmony singing, and solid traditional bluegrass foundation made this Creekside Stage set a pleasant early morning one.

Darrin and Brooke Aldridge

The Stray Birds: Second time seeing (and drawing) this act at MerleFest, I love their take on Americana/roots music and they keep getting better, just like my drawings of them.

The Stray Birds

Peter Rowan: The patriarch of MerleFest these days, Peter is always a must-see at least once over the weekend, and I got to one of his sets as well as seeing him with Donna the Buffalo.

Peter Rowan

Chatham County Line: Another act I’ve seen multiple years at MerleFest, I love the authentic vibe these guys evoke even as they add new, original tunes to the bluegrass repertoire.

Chatham County Line

Locust Honey: Didn’t get to the Traditional Stage as much as I have in years past, but this group was a highlight for me there, second time I’ve seen them at MerleFest. This was one of my personal favorite doodles from this year, also.

locust honey

Mipso: This act was all over the place this year, somehow I only caught one set from them, a great one at the Hillside Stage on Sunday. Another favorite doodle from this year’s crop.


Sarah Jarozs: Stately, beautiful songs from Sarah on the Watson Stage this year; she played several instruments, pictured her here with banjo.

Sarah Jarozs

Sierra Hull: Another lovely set, with just Hull and a bassist accompanying her.

Sierra Hull

Sam Bush Band: He’s played all 30 years, and it’s worth seeing him every year… great set from Sam and company this time around.

Sam Bush

Avett Family: The Avett Brothers were around all four days this year with headlining sets, a Doc Watson tribute, workshops, but the only one I did a drawing for was the Sunday morning gospel set with their dad Jim Avett and sister Bonnie Rainey along with several other musicians. A wonderful way to start a Sunday, for sure.

Avett Family Gospel

The Steel Wheels: Discovered this band a few years back at one of my first MerleFest weekends, so glad to see them back here again with new tunes and the same great sound.

The Steel Wheels

Zac Brown Band: Wasn’t prepared to enjoy this big country star’s set as much as I did, but the all-acoustic setup made it more palatable and homespun even as he sang that silly Jimmy Buffett duet without Jimmy. A good finish to a great weekend at MerleFest.

Zac Brown

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