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MerleFest 2004 Announces Stellar Line-Up

merlefest_large-250Wilkesboro, North Carolina, USA – Ticket sales for MerleFest 2004 will begin on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 at 2:00 PM EST. Wilkes Community College will present MerleFest 2004, the 17th
annual festival in celebration of the music of the late Merle Watson and his father Doc Watson, on its campus in Wilkesboro, NC on April 29 May 2, 2004.

Those joining Doc Watson and Merle’s son Richard Watson for MerleFest 2004 will include the Sam Bush Band, Roseanne Cash, John Cowan Band, the Derailers, Donna the Buffalo, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Béla Fleck & Edgar Meyer, Vince Gill, the Gourds, David Grisman Quintet, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Hot Tuna, Jeannie Kendall, the Kruger Brothers, Patty Loveless, Natalie MacMaster, Nickel Creek, Tim O’Brien, Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing Trio, Old Crow Medicine Show, Reeltime Travelers, Tony Rice Unit, Savoy Doucet Cajun Band, Earl Scruggs with Family & Friends, the Waifs, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, and Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison. Starting on November 11th, those with Internet access may acquire their tickets easily by visiting www.merlefest.org and, if purchasing assigned seats at the Watson Stage, actually pick their seat location on line. Those without Internet access may purchase tickets by calling 1-800-343-7857 (US only) or 336-838-6267 (non-US) from 10 AM through 4 PM, EST, weekdays. Tickets may also be ordered by fax (336-838-6263) and mail (MerleFest;
P.O. Box 120; Wilkesboro, NC 28697). Those interested in volunteering for MerleFest should call 336-838-6292. Vendor info: 336-838-6291. Sponsorship inquiries: 919-542-3997.

MerleFest 2004 has also confirmed appearances by R.G. Absher & Extra Measure, Alberti Flea Circus, Darol Anger, Lloyd Arneach, the Avett Brothers, Etta Baker, Russ Barenberg, Barenburg, Douglas & Meyer, Bering Straight, Big Country Bluegrass, Roy Book Binder, Laura Boosinger & Timmy Abell, the Alison Brown Quartet, T. Michael Coleman, the Deer Clan Singers, Dixie Dawn, the Jerry Douglas Band, the Gospel Jubilators, Mark Graham, Mitch Greenhill, Ernie Hawkins, Violet Hensley, Bob Hill, Clint, Clarence, & Garet Howard, Billy Jonas, Carol Elizabeth Jones & Laurel Bliss, Catfish Keith, Spider John Koerner, Kim & Jim Lansford, Jim Lauderdale, Jack Lawrence, the Lazybirds, Brad Leftwich, Brack
Llewellyn, the Local Boys, Mike Marshall, Bill Mathis, Andy May, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Pine Mountain Railroad, Ann Rabson, Reckless Kelly, Peter Rowan & Crucial Reggae, Shana Banana, Bob Sinclair, Mindy Smith, Joe Smothers, Tut Taylor, Joe Thompson, Tom, Brad & Alice, Two High String Band, Charles Welch, Pete Wernick, Wise Child, Adrienne Young & Little Sadie, and Zoe Speaks. All
bookings are subject to change without notice due to circumstances beyond our control.

Finals of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest for 2004 will take place at MerleFest on April 30th. Entries must be received by March 18, 2004. For more entry information, please
call 800-799-3838 or visit the MerleFest web site (www.merlefest.org). MerleFest also hosts instrument contests for Mandolin (4/29), Guitar (4/30), and Banjo (4/30). Registration for 20 entrants these will take place on site at the festival approximately 90 minutes before the start of each contest. The popular Songwriters’ Coffeehouse again happens on Friday evening. Songwriters selected from registrants on site will share the stage with singer-songwriters performing at MerleFest.

MerleFest 2003 almost established new records for participation. Overall festival participation, including ticketed participants, artists, volunteers, children admitted free and community outreach, totaled 77,359 for MerleFest 2003, less than 1000 short of the record. Some fifty non-profit civic and college organizations earned $308,513 in net revenue on gross receipts of $489,458 through their participation in MerleFest 2003. Proceeds from MerleFest, meanwhile, have permitted the college to make numerous capital improvements, including the Eddy Merle Watson Memorial Garden for the Senses, the Doc & Merle Watson Theatre, fiber-optic wiring for the campus, and the endowment of
scholarships for its students. These funds supplement the college’s state and local budget. This year, funds generated by the festival will enable Wilkes Community College to contribute $654,988 toward scholarships, salaries, program enhancements and capital improvements.

 Over its 16-year history, MerleFest has contributed more than $4.4 million to the college. At MerleFest 2003 3,113 volunteers contributed some 37,429 hours. Total MerleFest 2003 gross revenue exceeded $2.26 million. Using guidelines recommended by the College of Business at Appalachian State University, the total regional economic impact of MerleFest 2003 is estimated at $12,286,799. The direct economic impact on Wilkes County alone from the festival is estimated at $6.5 million, according to the MerleFest 2003 Economic Impact Report and Financial Statement, released on June 27. MerleFest 2004 will take place on April 29 May 2 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

MerleFest has continued to evolve, grow, and improve since 1988, becoming one of the most important annual events in the Southeast. In so doing MerleFest has defined and led the way for the emerging field called Americana music. MerleFest offers a generation and genre crossing mix of traditional and contemporary roots music, bringing together the very best of bluegrass, contemporary acoustic,
Celtic, blues, folk, old-time, Cajun, jazz, and singer-songwriter musics, along with traditional dance and crafts.

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