I'm studying eleven pages of printout. It's the stage schedule for MerleFest 2012. Thursday only takes one page since the gates don't open until 2:30 and only five stages are active. Friday and Saturday take up four pages each, and Sunday takes up two.
So, I've got highlighter in hand, and I'm starting to plan. The first year that I went, I made sure to see as many of the artists that I liked as I could. (You can't see them all, but you can try.) After the festival, I realized that I had missed an opportunity to discover for myself people I was unfamiliar with. I vowed that the next year, I would focus mainly on artists I knew nothing about. Alas, that strategy didn't work either - there was just too much to do and too many to see. Once again, I'm trying to be aware of where and when favorites can be found without losing track of other great options. On Thursday, I certainly wouldn't want to miss Donna the Buffalo with Jim Lauderdale on the Watson Stage. (That's the main stage.) And later on the Cabin Stage (adjacent to the Watson Stage), Wylie Gustafson (of Wylie and the Wild West), Jim Lauderdale, and Claire Lynch have a songwriter showcase. At least those two don't conflict. After Thursday, the decisions get tougher.
Jim Lauderdale performs on the Creekside Stage at MerleFest 2011.
I've been trying to catch up to Roy Book Binder for five years. Last year, I was able to hear two songs from his Sunday morning set. Is this the year for more? I'm not going to miss The Greencards. I won't miss them at home, so I won't miss them at MerleFest. Greencards members Kym Warner and Carl Miner are also playing as a duo - and I hear great things about that configuration.
There's the Hillside Album Hour hosted by the Waybacks. Each year they invite friends to join them in playing a classic album from start to finish. It started in 2008 with "Led Zeppelin II" and continued with "Sticky Fingers," "Abbey Road," and "Eat a Peach." This year's album hasn't been announced, but it should be fun. (Recordings of the Hillside Album Hour from 2008, 2010, and 2011, and many other MerleFest performances can be purchased online through FestivaLink.)
And what about those artists that I haven't heard before. I'm still trying to figure that out.
I'm running out of highlighter before I run out of MerleFest schedule. More later.