The First Indiana State
Fingerstyle Guitar Competion

by Mark Blackwell

Brown County is justly famous for its artists and crafts people but as far back as the turn of the last century it has produced its share of musical pickers and players. From the old time fiddle and guitar music of Doc and Diner Biesel back in the early nineteen-aughts to the White Lightning Boys brand of Bluegrass today there has always been somebody plucking a guitar in Brown County. A musical heritage like ours is something that oughta be celebrated. On July 28, 2012 Brown County will be the locus of a nationally accredited fingerstyle guitar competition.

According to Kara Barnard over at the Weed Patch Music store and one of the instigators of the contest, forty folks from all over the United States and from as far away as Australia have tendered their entries. The competition is limited to fingerstyle guitar but that includes everything from classical and flamenco to thumbstyle. That should make for a varied and lively program.

The competition begins at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 28 at the Brown County Playhouse. Each contestant will get the opportunity to play two tunes. After everybody has had their go at it a secret panel of anonymous judges will choose five finalists to play two more songs a-piece and out of those five finalists three winners (first, second, and third place) will be chosen.

The first-place winner will receive a handcrafted O. C. Bear guitar worth $4,500, a spot in the evening concert, and the title “Champion of the First Annual Indiana State Fingerstyle Competition.” The concert features Muriel Anderson, Pat Kirtley, and Brian Henke.
Muriel Anderson plays a regular six-string guitar as well as a harp-guitar. She plays across different genres of music and is the first woman to win the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship.
Pat Kirtley is renowned as a consummate “thumbpicker” that is to say he plays like Chet Atkins or Merle Travis but he is also known for his abilities in other styles as different as Celtic, and Bossa Nova. He has won the National Thumbpicking Contest and the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival.
Brian Henke composes his own music and performs it on guitar and harp-guitar. His instruments are a conduit for the inspiration he gets from nature’s beauty and majesty.

These three outstanding musicians will be giving a concert after the competition at 6:00 p.m. They will also be joined by the newly crowned Indiana State Champion Finger-picker.

Establishing a national music competition to Brown County is the “brainchild” of Kara Barnard and Chuck Wills. They decided that a contest like this would highlight Brown County’s long running love affair with traditional music. As a music-lover and primitive musician I have to say that this is something really positive.

The competition commences at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, July 28 at the Brown County Playhouse on South Van Buren Street in Nashville. Tickets are $15 for the competition and $15 for the evening concert, or a full event ticket for both is just $25. They are available at <>. For more information you can visit the Indiana State Fingerstyle Guitar Competition at <>. I hope to see you there.