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.