Merlefest 2009 kicked off this weekend in Wilkesboro, N.C. Legendary folk artist Doc Watson started this event 20 years ago in honor of his late son Merle Watson. This year’s lineup features some of the finest veteran and up-and-coming bluegrass, old-tome, and roots musical acts around — including Dr. Ralph Stanley, Sam Bush, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Ollabelle, Donna the Buffalo, The Grascals, Emmylou Harris, and the Del McCoury Band.

City Paper staffer Derek Judson is attending the fest this weekend. He sent this report by iPhone this afternoon:

“Doc Watson & Friends on the Watson Stage — that’s the main stage. Richard Watson, Sam Bush, Jack Lawrence, some phenomenal keyboardist named Jeff Little, and a few other guys. Emmylou Harris on in an hour or so. Saturday night on the lawn in front of the Watson Stage. Just started playing “Sweet Georgia Brown.” Sam Bush is doing a fiddle solo. Damn, but Jeff Little can play. Jack Lawrence is soloing now. Now Doc’s taking a turn. First saw him play when I was 12. Harmonica player’s taking a turn now. Now it’s all in. Life is good. —Derek”

(photo by Derek Judson)

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