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Merlefest 2001:

I had the great pleasure of attending MERLEFEST 2001 in North Carolina and spent four unbelievable days at what is now considered the world's premier acoustic music event. The best Bluegrass, Cajun and Celtic musicians were doing their thing in this beautiful spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The festival was attended by some 70 000 people. I got to meet many of my musical heroes and attended some interesting picking workshops and competitions. The standard of playing was just awesome. A nineteen year old youngster from just over the hill blew everyone away with some mind-blowing flat picking and of course won first prize which was a beautiful Galagher Guitar.

I also had some wonderful jam sessions with pickers from all over the world. You would sit down in an instrument vendor's tent, grab a guitar off the rack, start playing it and within five minutes you would have a back-up guitarist, mandolin player and fiddler playing with you. After about an hour we would all have a good laugh, introduce ourselves and move to another venue and start the process all over again.

Here are some pics:

Hugh Cumming picking the Holy Grail of flat-top guitars - a 1937 Sunburst D28 Martin Herringbone. Simply, out of this world! Selling price a mere US$60 000. I thought of selling my house to buy it. Wow!
Sam Bush for President! A musical genius! He plays a 1936 Gibson
Mandolin F5 Mandolin which he calls Hoss.
Yours truly with Bryan Sutton, probably one of the best guitarists I have ever heard. He plays with the Dolly Parton Band and Ricky Skagg's new band - Kentucky Thunder. The guitar he is holding is a Dana Bourgeois Dreadnought, Brazilian Rosewood of course
with a phenomenal, killer tone. A thoroughly nice chap.
Some of the greatest pickers in the business. From left to right - Larry Rice, Mark Schatz, Tony Rice, Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas.