Most stories about MerleFest begin by describing the cold, rainy weather common to this time of year in North Carolina. This year, however, for the first time in memory, the weather at MerleFest was picture book perfect. The 14th annual tribute to Merle Watson, son of guitarist and acoustic music legend Doc Watson, took place April 26-29 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, N.C., and drew close to 65,000 music lovers from all over the country. This year’s performances again showcased the depth and scope of the festival’s focus: bluegrass, country, folk, blues, and just about every other form of Americana and roots music was represented. Highlights included Dolly Parton, Earl Scruggs with Family & Friends, the Del McCoury Band, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nickel Creek, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, the Sam Bush Band, the John Cowan Band, Tony Rice, Jim Lauderdale, the Jerry Douglas Band, the David Grisman Quintet, Tim O’Brien, Vassar Clements, Peter Rowan, the Seldom Scene, Donna the Buffalo and Watson himself.