The prestigious Merlefest in Wilkesboro, N.C., has added Mandolin Orange to its 2014 lineup, to be headlined by Alan Jackson. This will be the first time the Carrboro duo have performed at the festival. I caught up with Andrew Marlin to get his thoughts on the festival, his past experiences there, and what he is looking forward to the most.
INDY: What are your past memories of attending Merlefest?
Andrew Marlin: I went to Merlefest for the first time back in 2008. I ended up getting sick as hell ’cause of all the rain and me with no shoes on. I scalped some tickets to the midnight jam, and even in my weakened state, I mustered up the strength to go and had my mind totally blown by the Sparrow Quartet [Abigail Washburn, Bela Fleck, Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee].
What was your reaction when you heard about the invitation to play next year?
When I heard we were going to play there next year, my first thought was “Yes!!!” My second thought was “Oh, I need to practice.” Some of my biggest influences are regulars at that festival, and I would love the chance to sit in and hopefully hold my own with a few.
Who are you looking forward to seeing most?
Well, I haven’t really looked at who else is playing, but to name a few favorites that play there regularly would be Sam Bush, Tim O’Brien, Tony Rice, David Grisman. I love those dudes. I’ll be making my official list a little closer to the date.
What do you think this festival means for North Carolina?
I’m sure it means something a little different for everyone, but for me it’s a celebration of this great Americana scene and tradition that got its start right here in North Carolina and throughout the Appalachians.
Below is a clip from the duo’s performance in Warrenton on Saturday, where they covered the Doc and Merle Watson tune “Stone Wall (Around My Heart).”