2009 Merlefest contest winners

MerlefestOne of the many wonderful facets of Merlefest is the various competitions that take place each year during the festival.

Firstly, there is the annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest in which there are four categories.

This year’s winners are Love Gone By by Carol Hausner and Colin McCaffrey of Montpelier, Vermont (in the Bluegrass Category), Man of Few Words by Dennis K. Duff of Kuttawa, Kentucky (in the Country Category), Beyond the Rain by Brink Brinkman of Pickerington, Ohio (in the Gospel Category) and Unmarked Pavement by Miles and Letha Costin of Raleigh, North Carolina (in the General Category).

Bryan McDowell, first place mandolin at Merlefest 2009Secondly, there are the three instrumental competitions, one each for mandolin, banjo and guitar. This year’s prize winners are ‚Ķ.

MerleFest Mandolin Contest

  • 1st Place – Bryan McDowell, Canton, North Carolina
  • 2nd Place – Jesse Daniel, Pisgah, Alabama
  • 3rd Place – Caleb Courtner, Butler, Tennessee

Seth Taylor, first place banjo at Merlefest 2009Merle Watson Bluegrass Banjo Championship

  • 1st Place – Seth Taylor, Bryson City, North Carolina
  • 2nd Place – Johnathan Dillon, Wirtz, Virginia
  • 3rd Place – Owen Piatt, Springfield, Tennessee

Doc Watson Guitar Championship

  • 1st Place – Tyler Grant, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tyler Grant, first place guitar at Merlfest 20092nd Place – Tony Watt, Schenectady, New York
  • 3rd Place – Fred Duggin, Nashville, TN

Congratulations to all concerned.

The four-day Merlefest took place on the campus of the Wilkes Community College, Wilkesboro, North Carolina, from 23 to 26 April. It is hosted by Doc Watson and staged in memory of his son Merle. This year’s attendance has been reported at 70,000.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.