GallagherFest launches in Murfreesboro, TN

Great news for bluegrass and guitar pickin’ fans in Murfreesboro, TN!

With the end of the long running Uncle Dave Macon Days festival downtown, the city and community leaders have created a new event to bring people back for acoustic and roots music on the streets. Called GallagherFest, and launching on May 4, 2024, the one day festival will combine an instrument contest, free music all day, and a big bluegrass concert that evening.

Though the festival was named to honor Gallagher Guitar Co., which was started in nearby Shelbyville in 1965, and moved to Murfreesboro with new owner David Mathis in 2019, it won’t be purely a flatpicking affair. There will be instrument contests for banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, with prizes bring either new instruments or a cash award. Endorsing Gallagher artists will entertain between the contests, with a performance by the Hacknsaw Boys to close out the free street fair.

Then on the evening of May 4, a ticketed concert featuring Laura Orshaw and Josh Rinkel opening for The Dan Tyminski Band will be hosted at The Walnut House.

Mathis tells us that he is excited about GallagherFest, and proud to be the primary sponsor, but that the name gives him pause, and wants everyone to know it wasn’t his idea.

“It’s heartwarming and exciting for me to see this happening here in Murfreesboro, it is gratifying that the organizers wanted the music festival associated with Gallagher.”

The company is deeply involved, and are donating the first prize in the guitar contest, a new Gallagher G-50, the very first model designed and built by JW Gallagher when he began the company, and the first he gave to Doc Watson. The G-50 guitars currently retails for $4,200.

Co-sponsor Gold Tone is likewise giving away a new instrument for the winner of the banjo competition, one of their Mastertone  OB-3EF models, valued at roughly $2,000.

David says that they are hopeful of finding a mandolin and fiddle sponsor to provide new instruments for those winners as well, but will offer cash prizes if no one is found by May.

To enter the GallagherFest contests, potential competitors are invited to submit a short video of yourself playing, along with the $15 entry fee. Twelve contestants will be chosen as finalists for each instrument, and they will all duke it out for the top prizes on Walnut Street in downtown Murfreesboro.

Full contest information and entry forms can be found online.

Also set to perform downtown during GallagherFest are Jim Hurst, Chris Jones & Paolo Ercoli, Scott Heuston & Erica Flom, Asher Cataldo & Bryce Reeg, Kristen Ford, and David DeVaul & Jesse Black.

Tickets are available now for the Dan Tyminski concert on May 4, and Mathis tells us that it’s not a very large venue, so those hoping to attend are encouraged to get yours soon.

Congratulations to Murfreesboro and to Gallagher Guitar for pulling together a fun day downtown. More details about the day’s offerings are on the GallagherFest web site.

Share this:

About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.