'Tis the season ... at least this year

Autumn means music festivals in North Carolina. I'll cover the two big ones

The next few weeks, Social Fabric may highlight music more than usual. Be prepared.

The nearby festivals my wife and I attend regularly happen soon. I’ll cover them from a community-building perspective.

I’ve been commissioned by The Assembly to produce a long-form feature about my hometown event, Merlefest. Merlefest typically happens the final weekend of April, but COVID interfered. It was canceled last year and postponed until September this year only.

I’ve been interviewing folks and doing research over the past several weeks. My reporting will consume a lot more time as the September 16 opening date draws closer. The Assembly story will run after the festival.

Two weeks after Merlefest is IBMA Bluegrass Live! I’m volunteering at the downtown Raleigh festival and will share observations during and after it right here.

I won’t give away any trade secrets about the Merlefest feature — including the angle I’m pursuing — but it’s right in line with the Social Fabric vibe. Meantime, I may share some of the good stuff here that won’t make its way into the final story. 

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The story of Merlefest’s origins has been told dozens of times. I’m taking a different tack. 

As The Waybacks’ James Nash wrote in his fine song “City Boy,” 

“You may have heard this tale before, but you ain’t never heard it from me.”

Various things and stuff

• From the L.A. Times (via Virginia Postrel): A 30-year-old Iranian American tries to recreate the atmosphere of her grandparents’ Persian garden in her L.A. backyard — and open it to the neighborhood.


• The Raleigh Uke Jam soldiered on Saturday afternoon under a massive tree outside our host church. Two hours of strumming and singing in the midsummer, uh, warmth. It was fun seeing ukers in person. We had an open mic Thursday on Zoom, but I think our crowd is pretty much over Zoom. We’re hopeful the weather will cooperate enough to let us continue jamming outdoors for awhile.

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Bob Wicklund captured us here.

• Comirnaty? Really? Couldn’t Pfizer’s marketing department come up with something better than “a car wreck of several words,” as Fortune said, to name its mRNA vaccination? I’m a Spikevax man, myself.