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Monday, December 28, 2009
Holiday Photo Treats III - Merlefest 2009
Donnie Swaim died unexpectedly last fall at the age of 51. In many ways he represented the spirit of local musicianship that has made Merlefest one of the great Americana festivals. He lived in Wilkesboro and played Dobro and guitar in several local bands. With his wife, Lynn, he spent a good deal of time caring for Tut Tayler and his wife Lee. During the three days preceding the opening of Merlefest, he could always be found near the tents the Wilkes County Acoustic Folk Society maintain for jammers throughout the festival. He was a very good picker with a pleasant baritone voice, but more important, he was a friendly, welcoming figure who brought strangers into the community and made them feel at home. He is missed by all who knew him and this post is dedicated to his memory.
Merlefest opens with three evenings of informal picking. By Wednesday, many of the musicians to be featured during the week have started to arrive, and some of them join the local pickers and visiting jammers at the folk society tents. On Thursday, the music begins and lasts for four solid days of joyful celebration. The following pictures make no effort to be comprehensive, but I hope they capture some of the spirit of the place. It's chilly now in Wilkesboro, but Merlefest is only four months away. I hope to see you there.