Center reinforces Owensboro’s place as a music destination
OWENSBORO, Ky. (April 14, 2015) – A $5 million boost from Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has put the International Bluegrass Music Center on track to open in 2017 and secured Owensboro’s place as one of America’s top music destinations.
The existing International Bluegrass Music Museum opened in Owensboro in 1992, and the $15 million International Bluegrass Center will expand the museum’s concept and mission.
The new facility will be twice the size of the museum and will feature a 500-seat concert hall, a 2,000-seat outdoor concert area, a research library, teaching rooms and a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Ohio River.
“Owensboro already delivers bluegrass music in abundance, and the new center will reinforce everything that happens here,” said Shannon Wetzel, executive director of Visit Owensboro, the convention and visitors bureau for the 98,000-population Daviess County community.
“Just as country music is tied to Nashville and jazz is tied to New Orleans, bluegrass is tied to the Owensboro area,” Wetzel said.
Beshear and Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne arranged for funds from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to be Owensboro’s contribution to a federal matching allocation supporting riverfront development, which freed city funds to go to the International Bluegrass Music Center project. The center already had raised $10.3 million.
Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music, was from rural Rosine, Kentucky, in neighboring Ohio County. Owensboro is the biggest city in the region where Monroe created the “high lonesome sound” and instrument-heavy foundations of bluegrass.
“Bluegrass music is popular around the world, and dedicated fans know the importance of this part of Kentucky. The International Bluegrass Music Center will compound that reputation,” Wetzel said.
The current museum houses the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame and occupies space in RiverPark Center, a regional arts and events center.
Today’s visitors to Owensboro already have numerous opportunities to enjoy bluegrass music. They include:
+ ROMP – A major bluegrass festival (June 24-27 this year, with artists including John Prine, Hot Rize, Del McCoury and the Punch Brothers)
+ Bluegrass jam sessions – Spread through the month at the International Bluegrass Music Museum, the Owensboro Music Center and Smothers Park
+ Bluegrass on the Banks – Different bands the first and third Tuesday each month from mid-May through September at Smothers Park
+ Rosine Barn Jamboree – Every other Friday night in nearby Rosine (bring your own chair)
Visitor information about Owensboro is online at VisitOwensboro.com and by calling 800-489-1131.