Longleaf Film Festival 2023
A North Carolina Tale
My Name Is Merle is a documentary about MerleFest, an annual music festival that attracts thousands to Wilkesboro, NC, an unassuming town in North Carolina foothills. The first MerleFest was a humble fundraiser for a garden at the local community college. Doc Watson, a legendary folk guitarist and NC native, asked a few of his musician friends to come play in honor of Merle, his late son.
Now approaching its 35th year, MerleFest has impacted countless iconic lives in world of Bluegrass and Americana music. And despite the changes that come with immense growth, the present-day festival remains a fundraiser, first and foremost. It’s a four-day celebration that generates significant revenue for Wilkes Community College and dozens of local organizations who show up to volunteer.
I’m very grateful to EdNC for funding and publishing the film. It wouldn’t have happened without Mebane Rash, a truly amazing producer who recognizes the importance of art and its impact on the world around us. Thank you to everyone in Wilkes County for embracing us with open arms. The story of MerleFest was yours to share, and you trusted us to tell it, which means a lot.
Before You Go
Many of the world’s most incredible stories go untold. In the flood of online negativity, it’s easy to lose sight of the real-life humans working harder than ever to make a difference — especially in a local context. At WONDER, we believe these stories are of utmost importance. If you have a story we should tell, let us know.
~ Robert Kinlaw, Founder of Wonder Storytelling