Master Musicians Festival announces this year’s honorees

Nate Michaels (Featured Artist), Larry Roberts (Lifetime Achievement), and Meredith Frye (Featured Photographer) will be honored at this year’s Master Musicians Festival. Courtesy photo, used with permission.

In advance of Master Musicians Festival, Somerset, Kentucky’s two-day musical and cultural homecoming taking place on July 15-16, organizers are proud to announce three important awards celebrating a dedication to art and community: Featured Artist, Lifetime Achievement, and Featured Photographer. (Master Musicians Festival, 2022)

This year’s Featured Artist is Nate Michaels, a freelance artist based in Louisville, Kentucky. He was raised on art and rock and roll, spending his younger years gigging in rock bands and traveling the Midwest. As his collection of art began to grow, his music tours turned into a journey of visual art. Now you can find Nate traveling all over the country on his “Have Art Will Travel” Tour. Nate brings life to the eyes of his portraits with an exuberant use of watercolor and India ink, while his more recent ventures have brought him to the endless valleys and crests of acrylic and the gentle slick kiss of oils. Most of his art speaks for itself as you can see the time and effort within each mark, stroke or medium. His history in music and love for the stage has bled through into some of his earlier pieces, as you can find many legends in rock. The art piece created by Michaels portrays what not only festival goers will experience this year, but what the artists will experience as well. Seen from an artist’s viewpoint looking out into the crowd, Michaels captures the gorgeous backdrop of Somerset and highlights the magic set by Master Musicians Festival that while closely captured on canvas, can only be experienced in person.

The 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Larry Roberts, who was born in Somerset in 1947 and raised to value hard work, pride in community, and service to others. Larry built a successful career as an electrician in many different roles including commercial wiring, lineman, and electrical inspector. Equipped with his electrical expertise and inspired by his love of music and pride in community, Larry served the Master Musicians Festival with passion for years. Present for the inception of the festival, he worked with a crew of volunteers to set up the initial electrical service at Somersport Park, then temporary service at Pulaski County Park, and later on, he worked to install the underground electrical wiring at today’s home for the festival on Somerset Community College’s campus.

This year’s Featured Photographer is Meredith Frye. A self-described wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, military spouse and momma, light lover, and passionate human being, she remembers receiving her first camera at age 8. Her approach to photography has always been to “bring light” into the lives of her subjects, to “find out what we have in common and to bring the light in each other to the surface.” She credits photography for “opening up a space where I can create and visually see the beauty in people and their surroundings.” A longtime friend and supporter of the festival, “Meredith is an incredibly talented photographer and a huge fan of Grace Potter,” says Julie Harris. “At our announcement party, we were so excited to see her reaction when we announced Grace was the headliner, and it was as priceless as we expected. We selected Meredith because of her talent, her love of community, and her love of Grace and music. We can’t wait to see what she produces at this year’s festival.” 

This year, over the weekend of July 15-16 in Somerset, Kentucky. Master Musicians Festival, presented by the City of Somerset, will welcome GRAMMY-nominated roots-rock mainstay Grace Potter, the eclectic influences of super-trio The Wood Brothers, a long-time favorite of music fans and fellow musicians-alike, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, and the easy-going swagger of Rayland Baxter to the Horse Soldier Bourbon main stage. This same stage has seen the likes of the aforementioned Doc Watson, Guy Clark, and Willie Nelson, plus many more—the festival’s last few years alone saw Steve Earle, The Counting Crows, and the late, great John Prine take the stage. Additionally, acts like Boy Named Banjo, John R. Miller, and Leah Blevins will give Master Musicians Festival a taste of what the well-equipped future of this music holds. 

The full lineup of July 15-16’s Master Musicians Festival includes Grace Potter, The Wood Brothers, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Rayland Baxter, Boy Named Banjo, John R. Miller, Bendigo Fletcher, Leah Blevins, SG Goodman, Justin Wells, Cole Chaney, Tee Dee Young, Multi Ultra, Short & Company, Eric Bolander, The Minks, The Jessie Lees, Ciggy Tuna, Don Rogers, If Birds Could Fly, Daniel Stroud and the Sleeping Dogs, Dark Moon Hollow, Tommy Cate’s Kids Jam, and Sydney Adams. 

Passing the torch along to the next generation is a cornerstone of the Master Musicians Festival ideology, so it only makes sense that the festival is exciting for fans of all ages. Kids 12 and under receive free admission with a ticket-holding adult and there are plenty of activities for youngsters to enjoy. MMF partners with Somerset ART Studio to offer a free kids camp throughout the weekend. Kids can participate in instrument making, water balloon fights, bubbles, making glow jewelry, and participating in a special music set curated just for them. This year, local Master Musician and harmonica player Tommy Cate will host the kids’ jam at 3:50p.m. Saturday in the Somersession Tent.

Courtesy photo, used with permission.

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