MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of Eddy Merle Watson to celebrate what has been heralded as “traditional plus” music as well as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
The music of MerleFest was best explained by Doc Watson himself, “When Merle and I started out we called our music ‘traditional plus,’ meaning the traditional music of the Appalachian region plus whatever others styles we were in the mood to play.”
Considered one of the premiere music festivals in the country, the event serves as an annual homecoming for musicians and fans alike. Headliners this year included Jason Isbell, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, John Prine, Scythian, Brandi Carlile, Alison Brown and the Steep Canyon Rangers.
S.E. Systems of Greensboro, North Carolina has been the production provider for the event since its inception.
With numerous stages, S.E. Systems utilizes a variety of equipment for the event. DiGiCo consoles for mains and monitors on the primary stages. For the two main stages, S.E. Systems deployed JBL line arrays while utilizing RCF HDL20-A line arrays on delay towers and RCF ST12-SMA monitors on the Traditional Stage.
New to MerleFest for 2016 was the addition of RCF on the Little Pickers Stage where S.E. Systems deployed the RCF EVOX 12 system. As a smaller stage with music and programming designed for children and families, “the system was fabulous and exceeded all expectations,” commented S.E. System’s Bryan Smith. “The bass was punchy and the top boxes were clear and loud. Everything you want in a small portable system. Listening to the system, I could not believe the fullness and clarity being produced by these small loudspeakers.” The EVOX 12 is an active system features a 15” subwoofer complemented by a satellite module with eight 4” transducers with onboard 1400-watt amplifier.
S.E. Systems also utilized the RCF EVOX 8 system at the Artist Getaway tent. This area caters to the artists and gives them a place to relax, grab some food or do a press conference. A program feed from the main stage is also sent to a monitor in the tent.
“We used the EVOX 8 for an audio feed of the program,” Smith states. “We gave the audio a slight delay to match the bleed over from the main stage and it added the needed reinforcement to fill this area. This active array was just the ticket to add clear audio with a small form factor to a smaller area.”