The 25th anniversary may traditionally be about silver, but year 25 for Master Musicians Festival looks to be solid gold.

Somerset’s own two-day outdoor music festival announced its 2018 line-up in a special reveal party Wednesday night at Jarfly Brewing Co., in the midst of all the snow and ice, but for the crowd and MMF board members, the excitement was just warming up.

That’s because this year, the festival managed to land someone they’ve been after for years — singer-songwriter John Prine.

Read the full story in  The Commonwealth Journal

Edsel Ford Blevins doesn’t believe he’s worthy of the honor of Master Musician. “I just don’t, I’ve been at it too long,” he says. 

But his story belies his humility.

It’s a story of receiving his first banjo as a gift from his parents at the age of 10 and teaching himself to play with the style of legendary country music star Ernest Van “Pop” Stoneman. It’s a story of playing the banjo across Kentucky and Tennessee for more than three decades, from the platform at Big South Fork Scenic Railway to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

Of the many works she’s painted, Amanda Brooks has a favorite.

It’s of a little boy in a tie-dyed shirt, a hand covering one eye, curiosity gleaming from the other. The weight of the summer heat is visible on his short, brown, shaggy hair as he sits in the grass at the Master Musicians Festival. He is 3. His mother is 24. He plays peekaboo with her and she snaps a photo.

Later, she would use that photo to brush his personality onto canvas with acrylic paint.

Friday, 24 February 2017 00:17

Dawes, Blackberry Smoke headline 24th MMF

Festival community stars Dawes, an Americana folk-rock band recently featured on the main stage at Bonnaroo and two sold-out shows at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, will headline the 24th Master Musicians Festival July 7-8, 2017, at Somerset Community College’s Festival Field. The two-day event is presented by Don Marshall Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.

Dawes will be followed on Saturday night by MMF’s most requested band, Blackberry Smoke, a southern/country rock band from Atlanta, Georgia, whose 2016 album, “Like an Arrow,” landed at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Country and Americana/Folk charts. Blackberry Smoke has toured with country and rock greats such as the Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“We know our crowd is going to love Dawes’ folk-rock sound,” said Tiffany Bourne, MMF president. “And we are thrilled to be able to give our fans what they want with Blackberry Smoke — they’ve been our most requested band for several years.”, a leading online resource for travel professionals booking groups in the United States, has selected the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset, KY, as one of 54 Famous American Festivals. 

The website has developed a comprehensive database of more than 3,000 festivals across the country, and for this distinction, selected 54 that represented many different facets of American life. 

Above, Jack Wilhelm, right, and his wife Nina, left, stand with Keila-Ann Coomer, the recipient of a scholarship the Wilhelms created in their late son Gary's memory. Coomer is majoring in music at Campbellsville University. The Wilhelms presented the scholarship at MMF.

Somerset’s Jack Wilhelm will receive the honor at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 9

Jack Wilhelm remembers well the first Master Musicians Festival he attended.

A folk performance drew him there. That year, the festival was held on the grounds of Somerset Community College, though it hadn’t quite graduated to a size requiring space like Festival Field provides. There were just a couple of acts playing under a tent on the lawn between Stoner and Meece halls.

“It started raining,” Wilhelm said, “and we all got in the tent. That tells you the size of the crowd.”

At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 9, Wilhelm will accept the 2016 Master Musicians Festival Lifetime Achievement Award at SCC in front of a much larger crowd filling a much bigger space — the result of tireless efforts of an all-volunteer board Wilhelm was involved with for more than a decade.

When she’s painting, Magen McCrarey Zawko sometimes goes through what she calls a “black phase.”

Zawko develops an idea and begins to paint. If she loses focus, she continues to add to the painting to find her direction — until she has added so much that the canvas becomes muddy.

She then paints the canvas black, a signal to herself that it’s time to start fresh.

“And that’s exactly what happened with my MMF painting,” the 2016 Master Musicians Festival featured artist said.

Will Muse, 13, of Somerset takes first place; will perform before Friday headliner

Thirteen-year-old Will Muse remembers a time as a youngster when he rode around the Master Musicians Festival in a little red wagon, dancing the night away and waving a glow stick.

But on Friday night, July 8, just before headliner Robert Randolph and the Family Band takes the stage at 10 p.m., Muse will stand before MMF’s estimated crowd of 2,000 holding something different in his hand.

A microphone.

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  • Master Musicians Festival shared John Prine's post.Check it out! #mmf25


Thanks to all 2017 sponsors!
Presented by

Don Marshall Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram

Friday Night Headliner Sponsor

City of Somerset Tourism

Diamond Sponsors

Somerset-Pulaski County Convention & Visitors Bureau
iHeart Radio
Somerset 106.1

Platinum Sponsors

Kentucky Utilities/PPL
Prairie Farms
Clark Distributing & West Sixth Brewing
Forcht Broadcasting

Gold Sponsors

A1A Communications
Big Ass Fans
Citizens National Bank
Commonwealth Journal
Dairy Queen Grill and Chill
East Kentucky Power Cooperative
Hardee’s of Somerset
Kentucky National Guard
Mark E. Clark, CPA
Somerset Community College
Somerset Police Department

Silver Sponsors

Best Western Midtown Inn & Suites
Dr. and Mrs. John Patton
First & Farmers National Bank
Law Office of Rhonda Hatfield Jeffers
Pulaski County Government
Somerset Morning Rotary Club

Bronze Sponsors

Amon's Sugar Shack
Bob Brown and Winter Huff, Attorneys
Charles Cromer Allstate Agency
Circuit Judge Jeffrey T. Burdette
Coca-Cola Bottling Company
Comfort Keepers
Mrs. Cornelia Cooper
Cumberland Valley National Bank
Mr. & Mrs. David & Terry Weddle
Mr. & Mrs. Jack & Nina Wilhelm
Century 21 Key Associates Team, Kathy Sears
Keystone Financial Group
Owens Garden Center

Monticello Banking Company
Mr. & Mrs. Ross & Kelly Rutt
South Kentucky RECC 
Texas Roadhouse

Friends of MMF

Mr. & Mrs. Bill & Janie Cain
Burnside Tourism
Chuck Sobieck, Edward Jones-Financial Advisor
Community Trust Bank
Cumberland Orthodontics, PSC