The 17th MerleFest surpassed previous attendance records, welcoming more than 82,500 to the festival site in Wilkesboro, NC from April 29 to May 2. Originally conceived as a memorial to the late Merle Watson, son of legendary Doc Watson, MerleFest has grown from a small festival playing to around 4,000 guests to one of the most respected and well-attended acoustic music events in North America. Artists at the 2004 MerleFest included veterans like Doc, Rosanne Cash, Sam Bush, Vince Gill, Bela Fleck & Edgar Meyer, and the Indigo Girls performing alongside relative newcomers Bering Strait, Mindy Smith, the Waifs, and Zoe Speaks. Click here to see pics from this year’s fest from listener John Russell. All responses to his smart-alecky commentary should go to him.