MerleFest 2005 to Feature Instrument Contests

Wilkesboro, North Carolina, USA – MerleFest 2005 will feature three outstanding instrument contests during the first two days of the April 28 May 1 event. Any MerleFest 2005 ticket holder except for past champions and artists performing at MerleFest may enter these competitions for guitar, mandolin, and banjo. For each contest, twenty registrants will be randomly selected from all those who register on time. Only the actual contestants may wait in line, no substitutes or placeholders. Merle Fest will again present a major league guitar summit, the 14th Doc Watson
Guitar Championship. This high profile contest for acoustic, flatpick guitarists
will happen on Friday afternoon, April 29, from 3:00 until 5:45 PM at The
Student Center Lounge on the Wilkes Community College campus. Registration takes
place in the Student Center lobby between 1:30 and 2:30 PM on Friday. The
winners of the Doc Watson Guitar Championship will receive prizes of the very
highest order. Cash prizes are sponsored In Memory of Bruce G. Sanders, late of
Greensboro, NC. Gallagher Guitar of Wartrace, Tennessee built Doc’s personal
guitar and Don Gallagher continues the family tradition, so it’s no surprise
that the champion will receive a Gallagher. From San Diego, California, Taylor
Guitars, have earned a sterling reputation in the hands of such practitioners as
Dan Crary and our second place winner. Third place receives a Deluxe Calton
Guitar Case, courtesy of Lonesome Pine Studios from Deep Gap, NC. The champion
will perform on the Cabin Stage on Saturday. Previous champions include Kenny
Smith, a long time member of the Lonesome River Band.

Registration: for the eleventh annual Merle Watson Bluegrass Banjo Championship
takes place in the Student Center Lobby at Wilkes Community College between 8:30
and 9:30 AM on Friday, April 29. The competition begins at 10:00 AM. In keeping
with Merle Watson’s identification with the 5-string banjo and North Carolina’s
fame for having spawned the bluegrass three-finger style, this event has become
one of the nation’s foremost banjo contests. Offered as top prizes are a Gibson
Earl Scruggs Standard Model Banjo or Deering The Legacy banjo. First place
winners will also perform on the Cabin Stage before the festival audience on
Saturday. First place receives a choice of one of the two prize banjos and a
check for $300. Second place earns the remaining banjo and a check for $200.
Third place receives a check for $50 and a Deluxe Calton Guitar Case, courtesy
of Lonesome Pine Studio from Deep Gap, NC. Cash prizes are sponsored by Waverly
Tuning Machines, a division of Stewart-MacDonald. Previous champions include
Cody Kilby.

MerleFest presents the ninth annual Merlefest Mandlin Contest from 3:00 until
5:45 PM on Thursday, April 28, at The Student Center Lounge on the Wilkes
Community College campus. Registration: takes place in the Student Center lobby
between 3:00 and 4:00 PM on Thursday. The Grand Prize includes $300, a Flatiron
F-5 Artist Mandolin, awarded by the Flatiron Mandolin Co., a division of Gibson
USA, and a performance on the Cabin Stage. Second-place prize includes $200 and
a Flatiron Mandolin; third prize – $50 and a Calton Mandolin Case, courtesy of
Lonesome Pine Studio from Deep Gap, NC. Both mandolins carry a lifetime
warranty. D’Addario Strings sponsors the cash prizes. Previous champions include
the acclaimed Johnny Staats and Ashby Frank.

MerleFest 2005 will also include two events for songwriters. The popular
Songwriters’ Coffeehouse, sponsored by AccuCopy, again happens on Friday
evening, April 29. Songwriters selected by lot from on site registrants on site
will share the stage with singer-songwriters performing at MerleFest. Recorded
entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest must be received by March 18,
2005. A panel of Nashville music industry figures will evaluate all the recorded
entries, choosing three finalists in each of four categories: bluegrass,
country, gospel, and general. Finals will take place at MerleFest 2005 on April
29 with songwriters performing at the festival judging. At MerleFest finalists
receive 4-day tickets and lodging within thirty miles of the event. The first
place contestants will perform for the main stage audience. For entry
information, please call 800-799-3838 or visit the
web site.
All entries must be submitted on tape or CD with entry fee and an official entry
form to The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest; PO Box 121855; Nashville, TN 37212
or submitted on line through Entries without completed entry
form and fee will not be judged. Chris Austin Songwriting Contest sponsors
include Thomas Fisher of Morgan-Keegan, Fishman Transducers, SonicBids, Acoustic
Guitar, D’Addario, and Epiphone.

Festival coordinators previously announced an extraordinary talent roster for
MerleFest 2005, the 18th annual festival in celebration of the music of the late
Merle Watson and his father Doc Watson presented by Wilkes Community College on
April 28 May 1, 2005 on its campus in Wilkesboro, NC. Just a few of those
joining Doc Watson and Merle’s son Richard Watson for MerleFest 2005 includes
Balfa Toujours; BR549; Sam Bush; The Chieftains; Vassar Clements; Eustace
Conway; John Cowan Band; Rodney Crowell; Donna the Buffalo; The Duhks; Bela
Fleck Acoustic Trio featuring Casey Driessen & Bryan Sutton; John Hiatt, Corey
Harris; The John Jorgenson Quintet; Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring
Jerry Douglas, King Wilkie, The Kruger Brothers; Jim Lauderdale; Robert
Lockwood, Jr.; Loretta Lynn; Del McCoury Band; Buddy Miller; Allison Moorer; Tim
O’Brien; Railroad Earth; Tony Rice Unit; Peter Rowan; Darrell Scott; Earl
Scruggs; Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder; Joe Thompson & Bob Carlin; and The
Waybacks. MerleFest 2005 will offer a reunion of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys
featuring Earl Scruggs, Vassar Clements, Bobby Hicks, Roland White, Tater Tate,
Roland White, Del McCoury, host Peter Rowan, and others. The festival will also
present two nights of The Chieftains with guests from the Down the Old Plank
Road sessions including Doc, Douglas, Fleck, Hiatt, McCoury, Miller, Moorer,
O’Brien, Scruggs, Skaggs, and more.

Those with Internet access may acquire their
tickets easily by visiting 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
(336-838-6277) and mail (MerleFest; P.O. Box 1299; Wilkesboro, NC 28697). Those
interested in volunteering for MerleFest should call 336-838-6292. Vendor info:
336-838-6291. Sponsor info: 336-838-6423.

Major MerleFest 2005 sponsors include Al Moss Promotions,,
Burger King, C&J LP Gas Company, Cedar Creek Custom Case Shoppe/TKL, Charter
Communications, Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock, Collings Guitars, Curtis Media,
Deering Banjo Company, Fender USA; GHS Strings; Gibson Musical Instruments,
Hardees/Dermox, Huss and Dalton Guitar Co, Homespun Tapes Ltd., iBluegrass & The
Acoustic Network, JBL, J D’Addario & Co, John Pearse Strings, Kaffe Magnum Opus;
Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouses, Pepsi Bottling Ventures LLC, Sprint,
Stelling Banjo Works, Sugar Hill Records, Taylor Guitars, Tyson Foods, Inc.,
Western Beat Entertainment, Winston-Salem Journal, WNCW Public Radio, WUNC 91.5