Master Musicians Festival surprises fans with early lineup announcement featuring The Wallflowers as headliner

Southeastern Kentucky’s premier summer music event makes history with pre-holiday release; tickets go on sale on Black Friday

It has been a year of records for the Master Musicians Festival.

On the heels of a record-breaking crowd for the 30th anniversary of the festival in July, MMF organizers gave their fans a holiday surprise today by dropping their 2024 lineup on social media — the earliest announcement in the non-profit organization’s history.

At the top of that lineup: The Wallflowers, the Jakob Dylan-led act that was born in the same generation as this southeastern Kentucky festival. For the past 30 years, The Wallflowers have stood as one of rock’s most dynamic and purposeful bands — a unit dedicated to and continually honing a sound that meshes timeless songwriting and storytelling with a hard-hitting and decidedly modern musical attack.

Fans may remember The Wallflowers most for the band’s best-known and highest-selling album Bringing Down the Horse, featuring hits like “One Headlight,” “Three Marlenas” and “6th Avenue Heartache.” But they will soon be introduced to the group’s newest material, the first from the band in nine years, a much-anticipated record that finds the band’s signature sound even as Dylan surrounds himself with a fresh cast of musicians.

“It’s so cool to think that as our festival was getting started, so too were The Wallflowers,” MMF Executive Director Tiffany Finley said. “I believe we’re going to see this iconic band in a lot of high-profile places in the festival scene next year, and we are excited Somerset, Kentucky, is on that list. Our board knew now was the time to snag them. I think our fans are going to love hearing their new music and singing along to their old favorites, songs that were playing on the radio when this festival was just a trailer and a dream coming true at Somersport Park.”

The Wallflowers join 27 acts across three stages at this three-day festival, which will kick off Thursday, July 18 with the return of MMF’s Classical Night.

“There has been such a huge demand to continue Classical Night after last year’s successful performance from the Louisville Orchestra,” Finley said. “We definitely wanted to bring that back and this year we’re excited to celebrate local musicians who fit that genre.”

Classical Night will be hosted this year at The Virginia, downtown Somerset’s new live performance venue, featuring opera singer Amanda Balltrip and the Somerset Big Band. There are a limited number of tickets available for this event, and they will also go on sale on Black Friday.

At No. 2 on the festival lineup but No. 1 in Kentuckians’ hearts is the country duo Sundy Best, Nick Jamerson and Kris Bentley, hailing from Prestonsburg in eastern Kentucky. After forming in 2010, this duo wrote, recorded and toured prolifically, releasing nearly 100 songs in just over four years. “As a result, they quickly gained a massive following and rose to the top of the regional country scene,” writes Hill Douglas on the popular country music site Whiskey Riff. “… Known for songs like ‘Painted Blue,’ ‘Hindman,’ and ‘I Wanna Go Home,’ the duo found themselves in a position of Appalachian country music royalty and one of America’s national non-mainstream up-and-comers.”

“Every year we honor our Kentucky roots and this year we are thrilled to do it during the golden hour on Saturday night with Sundy Best,” Finley said. “They have such an incredible following and with new music out this year, it was the perfect time to bring them back to our stage. The rest of our lineup is rich with bands we can’t wait to share with our fans — introducing you to your next favorite artist has become a trademark of our festival. And we can’t wait to welcome with open arms some of our local favorites as well.”

The Wallflowers and Sundy Best join the neo-noir, Western-British style of the Ruen Brothers; the blues- and roots-rich sounds of Eddie 9V; the soulful rock ‘n’ roll of Jeremie Albino; the powerhouse vocals and electric energy of Mae Simpson; and, all the way from Australia, the blues, jazz and Americana-noir vibe of Nigel Wearne.

Filling out the rest of MMF’s lineup for its 31st year: Abe Partridge, July Moon, Cody Lee Meece, Hunter Flynn, Spooky Fox, Noeline Hofmann, Lance Rogers, Bek and the Starlight Revue, Rob Dread, Shelby Lore, Gravel Switch, Lucas Wayne, the Young Songwriter Panel — featuring Emma Greene, Brice Craig, Laurah Louisa, Adalyn Ramey and Draken Asher — and the beloved kids’ music set from Australian Nigel Wearne: Nigel’s Aussie Kids Extravaganza.

Tickets for the 31st Master Musicians Festival, presented by Lake Cumberland Tourism, will go on sale at 10 a.m. Black Friday, Nov. 24. As always, children 12 and younger are admitted free with a ticket-holding adult (excluding Classical Night). For this one day only, MMF will also sell a limited number of VIP tickets to the general public. Purchase tickets at eventbrite

Master Musicians Festival poster for 2024 featuring artwork of large flowers, an organ, cello, drum, tree stump record player, saxophone, and mouse playing banjo.