It's hard to believe I've lived in NC since 1989 and this was my first trip to MerleFest. We went on a one day stint to scope it out. It was amazing and overwhelming. I had little idea of what I was in for; I knew it was big, but I didn't know it was BIG! Next time: backpack containing sunscreen, rain gear, tarp (to cover chairs when it rains), bug juice, camera, wide brim hat (waterproof), light weight sweater, and A KNITTING PROJECT). I'm glad I didn't bring knitting along in my regular bag. In the morning it was blisteringly hot (not fun to knit when your hands are sweaty) and then the thunderstorm came and not only cooled everything by 15-20 degrees, it soaked everything. I decided not to take my camera bag because I didn't feel like lugging it around, but I had to protect it from the elements. There were more DSLR cameras there than I've ever seen! Lots of good lenses. I wasn't brave enough to walk up to the stage and take pictures, there were lots of people to climb over and I kept visualizing myself tripping over the legs.
We saw the Lovell Sisters first (I heard them on A Prairie Home Companion maybe last year? They won the talent under 21 show and they were at MerleFest last year). They are amazing musicians, but their lyrics leave something to be desired for me.
They did a round robin kind of thing with Barefoot. These guys are great! They're out of Anchorage and they play well, have lovely harmonies, and good lyrics. They're kind of a little timid in the performing arena, but they just need a few more shows under their belts and I bet they'll be excellent showmen as well.
A while later the rains came. We were huddled with many others under a picnic shelter like sardines for about 25 minutes. Afterwards, we went to dump the rain out of our chairs - like everybody else without a tarp.
We saw Rhoda Vincent & The Rage on the main stage and it rained on and off the whole time. Those of us that didn't have appropriate gear would vacate the front seats, while those prepared people would just pop open their bumbershoots and hunker down.
The showstoppers were The Carolina Chocolate Drops. They were on the Traditional stage (covered tent - yea!) and it was packed! We were crammed inside the doorway and it started to rain again during their set. They were fabulous!
During their Charleston version of Salty Dog, Rhiannon got up and did The Charleston. They've been having "jug issues" - the jug was a water bottle for the set.
We left after their performance. We were driving back last night and were pretty exhausted from the walking, standing, sitting (each for long periods). I thought my back would feel much worse than it did this morning- that's always good news!
In parting, a video from The Chocolate Drops (not from MerleFest):