Tag Archives: Merlefest

MerleFest Releases Fresh Faces at MerleFest 2006

merlefest_large-250Wilkesboro (North Carolina), USA – NC: MerleFest 2006 has announced the release on March 14 of a limited edition audio compact disc, Fresh Faces at MerleFest 2006. The CD celebrates the diversity of music performed at MerleFest by compiling tracks either by artists making their MerleFest debut this year or returning after several years’ absence. Fresh Faces at MerleFest 2006 will be available only at MerleFest or from the festival sales web site, www.mfstore.org.

Fresh Faces at MerleFest 2006 features Americana, singer-songwriter, bluegrass, old-time, classic country, and acoustic jazz by both established stars and emerging artists. The collection offers previously released cuts by the Grascals, Slaid Cleaves, the Isaacs, the Cottars, Larry Sparks, the Ditty Bops, the Biscuit Burners, Rory Block, the Mammals, Chatham County Line, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, and the Lee Boys.

Wilkes Community College will present MerleFest 2006 on April 27 30, 2006 on its campus in Wilkesboro, NC. Those with Internet access may acquire their tickets easily by visiting www.MerleFest.org.

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).

Among those previously announced as joining Doc Watson and Merle’s son Richard Watson for MerleFest 2006 are Rory Block; David Bromberg Quartet; Alison Brown Quartet; Sam Bush Band; Guy Clark; John Cowan Band; Jerry Douglas Band; Béla Fleck & The Flecktones; Emmylou Harris; Hot Tuna; Robert Earl Keen; The Lee Boys; Laura Love Band; Nickel Creek; John Prine; Tony Rice Unit; Peter Rowan; Darrell Scott; Mike Seeger; Pete Seeger; Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers; Gillian Welch; and The Waybacks featuring special guest Bob Weir. MerleFest will also welcome the Woody Guthrie tribute Ribbon of Highway Endless Skyway, along with individual performances by tour members Slaid Cleaves, Eliza Gilkyson, Jimmy LaFave, and Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion.

Wilkes Community College has presented MerleFest since 1988.

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MerleFest 2006 to Feature Instrument Contest

merlefest_large-250Wilkesboro (North Carolina), USA – MerleFest 2006, the largest American roots music gathering, will feature three outstanding instrument contests during the first two days of the April 27-30 event. Any MerleFest 2006 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. The twenty so chosen for each contest will join the second and third place finishers from last year in the competition. Only the actual contestants may wait in line, no substitutes or placeholders.Merle Fest will again present a major league guitar summit, the 15th Doc Watson Guitar Championship.

This high profile contest for acoustic, flatpick guitarists will happen on Friday afternoon, April 28, 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, North Carolina. 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, North Carolina. 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 twelfth 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 28. 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 Calico 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 tenth annual Merlefest Mandolin Contest from 3:00 until 5:45 PM on Thursday, April 27, 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 Gibson F-5G Mandolin, awarded by Gibson USA, and a performance on the Cabin Stage.

Second-place prize includes $200 and a Gibson F-9 Mandolin; third prize – $50 and a Calton Mandolin Case, courtesy of Lonesome Pine Studio from Deep Gap, North Carolina. Both mandolins carry a lifetime warranty. D’Addario Strings sponsors the cash prizes. Previous champions include the acclaimed Johnny Staats and Ashby Frank.

MerleFest 2006 will also include two events for songwriters. The popular Songwriters’ Coffeehouse, sponsored by AccuCopy, again happens on Friday evening, April 28. 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 4, 2006. 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 2006 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 sitewww.merlefest.org. 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 www.sonicbids.com/chrisaustinsongcontest. 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 2006, the 19th annual festival in celebration of the music of the late Merle Watson and his father Doc Watson presented by Wilkes Community College on April 27 30, 2006 on its campus in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

Among those previously announced as joining Doc Watson and Merle’s son Richard Watson for MerleFest 2006 are Rory Block; David Bromberg Quartet; Alison Brown Quartet; Sam Bush Band; Guy Clark; John Cowan Band; Jerry Douglas Band; Béla Fleck & The Flecktones; Emmylou Harris; Hot Tuna; Robert Earl Keen; The Lee Boys; Laura Love Band; Nickel Creek; John Prine; Tony Rice Unit; Peter Rowan; Darrell Scott; Mike Seeger; Pete Seeger; Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers; Gillian Welch; and The Waybacks featuring special guest Bob Weir. MerleFest will
also welcome the Woody Guthrie tribute Ribbon of Highway Endless Skyway, along with individual performances by tour members Slaid Cleaves, Eliza Gilkyson, Jimmy LaFave, and Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion. Wilkes Community College has presented MerleFest since 1988.

Those with Internet access may acquire their tickets easily by visiting www.merlefest.org. 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: 336-838-6292. Sponsor info: 336-838-6423.

Major MerleFest 2006 sponsors include BluegrassCountry.org; Burger King; C&J LP Gas Company/G&B Energy; Cedar Creek Custom Case Shoppe/TKL; Charter Communications; Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock; Collings Guitars; Curtis Media; Deering Banjo Company; First Quality Musical Supplies; GHS Strings; Gibson Musical Instruments; Hardees/Dermox; Homespun Tapes Ltd.; iBluegrass & The
Acoustic Network; J D’Addario & Co; John Pearse Strings; Knee Deep in Bluegrass; Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouses; mvyradio.com; Pepsi Bottling Ventures LLC; Sprint; Stelling Banjo Works; Sugar Hill Records; Taylor Guitars; Tyson Foods, Inc.; WBRF Radio; Western Beat Entertainment; WFMX 105.7 FM; Winston-Salem Journal; WNCW Public Radio; WUNC 91.5 FM; and WXII-TV 12.

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Merlefest 2005 Announces Stellar Partial Line-Up

Wilkesboro, North Carolina, USA – Ticket sales for MerleFest 2005 will begin on Tuesday, November 9, 2004 at 2:00 PM EST. Wilkes Community College will present MerleFest 2005, the 18th 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 28 – May 1, 2005.

Those joining Doc Watson and Merle’s son Richard Watson for MerleFest 2005 will include BR549; Sam Bush; The Chieftains; Vassar Clements; Eustace Conway; John Cowan Band; Rodney Crowell; Donna the Buffalo; Jerry Douglas; The Duhks; Bela Fleck; John Hiatt, Corey Harris; John Jorgenson; 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.Starting on November 9th, 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 2005 has also confirmed appearances by Timmy Abell; R.G Absher & Extra Measure; Scott Ainslie; Alberti Flea Circus; The Avett Brothers; Etta Baker; Balfa Toujours; Roy Book Binder; Laura Boosinger; Henry Butler; CanJoe John; Hayes Carll; T Michael Coleman; Crooked Jades; Daybreak; Deer Clan Singers; Dixie Dawn; Gigi Dover; Tony Ellis and the Musicians of Braeburn; Cathy Fink &
Marcy Marxer; Mary Flower; Pat Flynn; Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble; Gospel Jubilators; The Greencards; George Hamilton IV; George Hamilton V; Caroline Herring; Bobby Hicks; Bob Hill; Clyde Hollifield; David Holt & the Lightning Bolts; Hushpuppies; Billy Jonas; Carl Jones & Beverly Smith; Mel Jones; Si Kahn; Jack Lawrence; The Little Rascals; Jeff Little; Brack Llewellyn; The Local Boys; Bill Mathis; Andy May; John Mooney; Nashville Bluegrass Band; NC Thumb & Finger Style Guitar Players; Mollie O’Brien; Old School Freight Train; Josh Pinkham & The Pinkham Family Band; Shana Banana; Joe Smothers; Stillhouse Bottom Band; Tater Tate; Happy Traum; Wayfaring Strangers; Charles Welch; Pete & Joan Wernick; Roland White; The Wilders; Robin & Linda Williams; Tony Williamson; and Zoe Speaks. All bookings are subject to change without notice due to circumstances beyond the control of the festival.

Finals of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest for 2005 will take place at MerleFest on April 29th. Entries must be received by March 18, 2005. For more entry information, please call 800-799-3838 or visit the MerleFest web site or Sonicbids. MerleFest also hosts instrument contests for Mandolin (4/28), Guitar (4/29), and Banjo (4/29). Twenty contestants will be randomly picked from those who register on site at the festival beginning 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 2004 established new records for participation. Paid attendance at this year’s MerleFest totaled 40,840, far more than 2002’s record 36,714.

Overall festival participation, including ticketed participants, artists, volunteers, 3200 school children admitted free on Friday, and 12,000 attending 38 community outreach concerts, totaled a record high 81,592 for MerleFest 2004.

Some fifty non-profit civic and college organizations earned $348,541 in net revenue, $40,000 more than 2003, on gross receipts of $543,511 through their participation in this year’s festival. Both numbers represent record highs.

These figures represent a significant source of funding for the many important projects sponsored by the community organizations, while fulfilling the festival’s mission to exert a positive economic impact on Wilkes County.

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. Total MerleFest 2004 gross revenue exceeded $2.57 million, a 14% increase over 2003. This year, funds generated by the festival will enable Wilkes Community College to contribute $480,000 toward scholarships, salaries, program enhancements and capital improvements.

Over its 17-year history, MerleFest has contributed almost $4.9 million to the college. At MerleFest 2004, 3,388 volunteers contributed some 40,552 hours. Using guidelines recommended by the College of Business at Appalachian State University, the total regional economic impact of MerleFest 2004 is estimated at $13,749, 915, exceeding 2003’s $12,286,799 by nearly $1.5 million. The direct economic impact on Wilkes County alone from the festival is estimated at $7.3 million, $800,000 more than last year, according to the MerleFest 2004 Economic Impact Report, released on August 12.

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.

Major MerleFest 2005 sponsors include Al Moss Promotions, BluegrassCountry.org, 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, 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, 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 FM.

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Merlefest 2004 Draws Record Audience of 82,500

merlefest_large-250Wilkesboro, North Carolina, USA – An extraordinary line-up greeted record crowds to MerleFest 2004, the 17th annual festival in celebration of the music of the late Merle Watson and his father Doc Watson.

Wilkes Community College presented the event on April 29 May 2 on its campus in Wilkesboro, NC. MerleFest again drew an enormous, well behaved, and appreciative audience with a preliminary estimated total participation including volunteers and school children of 82,500. This exceeds MerleFest 2002’s record 78,294 by more than 4000 and surpasses last year’s 77,359 by 5.5%. Paid attendance increased by 12% over 2003 with gains of 23% in Friday-only tickets, 12% for Saturday only, and 7% for three- and four-day tickets. Wilkes Community College will present MerleFest 2005 on April 28 May 1, 2005.

MerleFest 2004 offered food, crafts, family and children’s’ activities, and performances by nearly 100 Americana music acts, including Doc Watson and Merle’s son Richard, the Sam Bush Band, Rosanne Cash, the Derailers, Donna the Buffalo, Béla Fleck & Edgar Meyer, Vince Gill, the Gourds, David Grisman Quintet, Hot Tuna, Indigo Girls, the Kruger Brothers, Patty Loveless, Natalie MacMaster, Nickel Creek, Tim O’Brien, Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing Trio, Reeltime Travelers, Tony Rice Unit, Savoy Doucet Cajun Band, Earl Scruggs with Family & Friends, the WAiFS, and Gillian Welch. A surprise appearance on Sunday by Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones with the John Cowan Band delighted the
audience.

A very preliminary estimate calculates that the regional economic effect of MerleFest 2004 will reach roughly $15 million. MerleFest 2003 had an estimated effect of $12,286,799, a year after 2002’s record $15,045,673. Proceeds from MerleFest have permitted Wilkes Community 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.

Si Kahn, Kelly Willis, Carol Elizabeth Jones, and Martha Scanlan judged the finals of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, which attracted 889 entries, 95 more than 2003. First round judging from submitted recordings produced twelve finalists who competed with the following results. General Category Finalists (325 entries): First: “Granddaddy” by A.J. Roach, Oakland, CA; Second: “Talk
Radio” by Michael Troy, Somerset, MA; Third: “Show Them” by Kristin Cifelli, Boston, MA. Country Category Finalists (271): First: “Forgiveness” by Sarah Hawker, Jersey City, NJ; Second: “Me and My Poodle” by Stayton Bonner, Austin, TX; Third: “No Need to Say it Again” by Justin Lute, Columbus, OH. Bluegrass Category Finalists (188): First: “Adeline” by Mike Finders, Iowa City, IA; Second: “Rockabye Dixie” by Abigail Washburn & Beau Stapleton, Nashville, TN; Third: “Dark Clouds” by Dave Wilson, Raleigh, NC. Gospel Category Finalists (105): First: “Come By Here,” by Laurelyn Dossett, Greensboro, NC; Second: “Always Room in His Heart” by Rita Case, Galena, OH; Third: “A Christmas Tear” by Tommy Austin, Fall Branch, TN.

First place in the Doc Watson Guitar Championship went to Brandon Bentley of Summerrest, WV, with Brandon Davis from Independence, VA once again taking second and Philip Anania of Philadelphia, PA finishing third. William Parsons, Rock, WV, captured the Merle Watson Bluegrass Banjo Championship. Donnie Little of Claremont, NC took second with Rock Hill, SC’s Hank Smith third. 2003 runner-up Scott Pearson from Warren, PA won the MerleFest Mandolin Contest, followed by Spencer Strickland, Landsburg, VA and, in third for the second consecutive year, Josh Pinkham of Odessa, FL.

MerleFest 2004 benefited from partnerships with 94 sponsors, including major sponsors: Charter Communications, Tyson Foods, Gibson Musical Instruments, Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouses, Curtis Media, the Winston-Salem Journal, Pepsi, Burger King, Hardees/Dermox, iBluegrass & the Acoustic Network, G&B Energy/C&J LP Gas, JBL, REDGUM Audio, J D’Addario, Fishman Transducers, Sugar Hill Records, AC Phelps Mandolin & Guitar Co., WNCW Public Radio, John Pearse Strings, The Musik Room, Stelling Banjo Works, Taylor Guitars, Collings Guitars, Huss & Dalton Musical Instruments, Western Beat Entertainment, Fender Musical Instruments, Sprint, Cedar Creek Custom Case Shoppe, WUNC Public Radio, Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock, Deering Banjo Company, and Homespun Tapes. Sponsorship
support reached a record $423,289, including both cash and in-kind contributions.

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Merlefest Live!: The Best of 2003 Set for May 11 Release

MerleFest Live!: The Best of 2003
MerleFest Live!: The Best of 2003

Wilkesboro, USA – MerleFest Records, distributed exclusively by Welk Music Group, has announced a May 11, 2004 street date for MerleFest Live!: The Best of 2003. The audio compact disc assembles a “who’s who” of acoustic music recorded live at MerleFest 2003 on a generous 18 tracks. MerleFest host Doc Watson’s two contributions reflect both his bluegrass (“Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms”) and blues/rockabilly (“Match Box Blues”) influences.

From Asleep at the Wheel’s classic western swing on “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” to the hard driving bluegrass of Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder with “How Mountain Girls Can Love” to Guy Clark’s wry troubadour twang on “Black Diamond Strings” and Don Edward’s traditional cowboy music heard on “Master’s Call” to the jam band fusion of Donna the Buffalo’s “Conscious Evolution,” this live compilation includes something for everyone who appreciates Americana music.

MerleFest Live!: The Best of 2003also features live cuts by artists including Dr. Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Whites, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Hot Rize, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Mountain Heart, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, and the Red Stick Ramblers.

The CD also presents a glimpse into Vassar Clements’ 75th Birthday Jam at MerleFest 2003 with “Orange Blossom Special” featuring Vassar, Sam Bush, Béla Fleck, Tony Rice, Bryan Sutton, Mark Schatz, and Peter Rowan.

MerleFest has also released Fresh Faces at MerleFest 2004. This compilation of previously released tracks features The Waifs, Mindy Smith, Savoy Doucet Cajun Band, Hot Tuna, Ann Rabson, and many others.

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, Rosanne Cash, John Cowan Band, the Derailers, Donna the Buffalo, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Béla Fleck & Edgar Meyer, Vince Gill, the Gourds, David Grisman Quintet, Hot Tuna, Indigo Girls, 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, and Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison.

MerleFest Information: 800-343-7857 or www.merlefest.org.

Buy MerleFest Live!: The Best of 2003

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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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Merlefest Announces 2004 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest

merlefest_large-250Wilkesboro, NC, USA – MerleFest 2004 organizers have announced that composer and recording artist Jim Lauderdale will again serve as Honorary Chairperson of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. Entries on audiotape or compact disc for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest must be received by
March 18, 2004. Lauderdale will empanel a group of Nashville music industry figures that will evaluate all the entries. This panel will choose three finalists in each of four categories: bluegrass, country, gospel, and general. The finals will take place at MerleFest 2004 on April 30 on the Chris Austin Stage, sponsored by ASCAP and No Depression.

Songwriters performing at the festival will judge the finals. At MerleFest finalists will receive 4-day tickets and lodging within thirty miles of the event and compete for prizes include cash prizes, sponsored by Thomas Fisher, First Vice-President, Morgan Keegan, Durham, NC, and Epiphone Guitars from Gibson. Additional prizes and support come from Acoustic Guitar Magazine; Performing Songwriter, and D’Addario strings. The first place contestants will perform for the main stage audience. For entry information, please call 800-799-3838 or visit the web
site (www.merlefest.org).

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. Entries without completed entry form and fee will not be judged.A then unknown Gillian Welch was one of the winners of the initial Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 1993. Word quickly spread about her talents from there. Darrell Scott, Sally Jones, Carla Gover, and contest chair Jim Lauderdale judged the finals of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, which attracted 794 entries. First round judging from recordings produced twelve finalists who competed with the following results. General Category Finalists: First Place: “River” by Scott Carter, Nashville, TN; Second: “The Lone Cypress”
by Ron Poythress, Carolina Beach, NC; Third: “I Can See Love” by Lisa Richards, Austin, TX. Country Category: First: “Rock Me Like A Lullaby” by Connie Townsend & Dave Parker, Elkins, WV; Second: “Almost True” by Molly Sloan, Nashville, TN; Third: “Wine & Beer When You Are Here” by Rowland Stebbins, Nashville, TN. Gospel Category Finalists: First: “By The River” by Ruth Bloomquist, Muskegon, MI; Second: “There Is A Place” by Lizza Connor, Nashville, TN; Third: “When Heavenly Hills Come Calling For Me” by Mark Brinkman, Pickerington, OH. Bluegrass Category Finalists: “First: “Sadie’s Song” by Adrienne Young, Nashville, TN; Second: “The Ghost of Silas Jordan” by Mark Brinkman, Pickerington, OH; Third: “I’m Getting Pretty Good At Being Lonesome”
by Robert Wright, Staten Island, NY.

Pete Fisher, then of WarnerSongs and currently general manager of the Grand Ole Opry, and Kari Estrin, then Associate Coordinator of MerleFest, initiated the contest to honor the memory of Chris Austin, a northwestern North Carolina native. A Warner-Refuge writer, Austin spent several years in the band of Ricky Skaggs, who scored a Top 5 hit with Chris’ “Same Ol’ Love.” On March 16, 1991,
only a few hours after Skaggs recorded the song, Austin, 27, was killed in a tragic plane accident near San Diego along with other members of Reba McEntire’s band. A solo record, Firm Believer appeared posthumously on Warner Brothers.

Net Proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest have created an endowed scholarship in memory of Chris, the Chris Austin Scholarship Fund. This scholarship is presented annually to a deserving student at Wilkes Community College, the site of MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Additional
proceeds support the Chris Austin Stage at the festival, where each year the finalists perform. Thomas Fisher, First Vice-President, Morgan Keegan, Durham, NC; Gibson Epiphone; Acoustic Guitar Magazine; Performing Songwriter, and D’Addario strings sponsor the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest.

Lauderdale, also a western NC native, recording artist, and BMI writer for Bluewater Music, enjoyed one of his favorite musical moments at MerleFest ’98, when he got the opportunity to sub for Ralph Stanley II as guitarist and vocalist for Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, with whom he has recorded two successful albums. The alt.country favorite has penned hits for such mainstream artists as George Strait, Patty Loveless, and the Dixie Chicks. Lauderdale’s co-writing partners have ranged from Harlan Howard to the Grateful Dead’s Robert Hunter. Recently, Lauderdale has appeared on stage as George Jones in “The Tammy Wynette Story.” Lauderdale records both bluegrass and country
material. His most recent release is a collaboration with Donna the Buffalo.

The popular Songwriters’ Coffeehouse, sponsored by AccuCopy, again happens on Friday evening, April 30, at MerleFest 2004. Songwriters selected by lot from on site registrants on site will share the stage with singer-songwriters performing at MerleFest.

Festival coordinators previously announced an extraordinary talent roster for MerleFest 2004, the 17th annual festival in celebration of the music of the late Merle Watson and his father Doc Watson
presented by Wilkes Community College on April 30  May 2, 2004 on its campus in Wilkesboro, NC. 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, Hot Tuna, Jeannie Kendall, the Kruger Brothers, Patty Loveless, Natalie MacMaster Band, 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, the legendary Earl Scruggs with Family & Friends, the Waifs, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, and Kelly
Willis & Bruce Robison.

Ticket sales will begin at 2 PM Eastern on Tuesday, November 11, 2003. Those with Internet access may acquire their tickets easily by visiting www.merlefest.org. 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: 919-542-3997.

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Merlefest 2003

merlefest_large-250Wilkesboro, USA – Wilkes Community College will present MerleFest 2003, the largest bluegrass music festival in the United States. This is the 16th annual festival in celebration of the music of the late Merle Watson and his father Doc Watson. The festival takes place on the Wilkes Community College campus in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on April 24 – 27, 2003.

Artists joining Doc Watson and Merle’s son Richard Watson for MerleFest 2003 will include Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Emmylou Harris, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Laura Love Band, Asleep at the Wheel, Leahy, Donna the Buffalo, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Sam Bush Band, Vassar Clements, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Guy Clark, Hot Rize, Don Edwards, Paul Geremia, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Patrick Sweany, Tony Rice, Tim O’Brien, Del McCoury Band, Etta Baker, the Whites, Norman & Nancy Blake, Eustace Conway, Lightnin’ Wells & Algia Mae Hinton, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Waybacks, and many others. Special performances will include Vassar’s 75th birthday jam, the Acoustic Blues Showcase, the Midnight Jam, and “Follow Me Back to the Fold: A Tribute to Women in Bluegrass.”

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 (336-838-6277) and mail (MerleFest; P.O. Box 120; Wilkesboro, NC 28697).

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