You’d be hard-pressed to find any Kentuckian who couldn’t recite the lyrics to “Blue Moon of Kentucky” on the spot. When Bill Monroe wrote the lyrics to this iconic song, he had no idea the legacy he was creating for himself, for the music industry, and for Owensboro, Kentucky. The song became a smash hit as one of the earliest bluegrass songs to spread like wildfire with universal appeal, being covered by countless legends in the music industry including Elvis. Monroe, “Father of Bluegrass’’, reached across cultures and styles, creating an entirely new sound that would drive American music for decades.
Bluegrass music is uniquely Kentucky, and thanks to Bill Monroe, Owensboro is uniquely bluegrass. Chris Joslin, executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, describes Owensboro as the “epicenter” of bluegrass music. Owensboro is home to the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, “the only cultural center on Earth dedicated solely to bluegrass music, and to telling the story of bluegrass music. Not only its past, but its present and its future,” said Joslin.
The future is exactly where The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum is focused. Despite challenges Covid-19 imposed on all of Owensboro, the hall of fame is bringing the bluegrass spirit back home straetgically and safely.
Kicking things off for the month of February is The Nashville Songwriter, an event highlighting both seasoned pros and up-and-coming musicians based in Nashville, Tennessee. Take the chance to listen to the stories and lives of America’s future star songwriters on February 18 at the Woodward Theatre. Tickets can be found here.
The museum also unveiled their newest venture, Bluegrass Weekend, an annual event featuring live performances by bluegrass artists and a day of competition for fiddlers, mandolin, guitar and other bluegrass arts. This year, Grammy Award winning artist and ROMP fan-favorite Rhonda Vincent will perform two live shows on Friday, March 19 at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 20 is all about the Kentucky State Fiddle Championship. Competitions for different instrument categories and ages will be taking place all day beginning at 10 a.m., as well as plenty of informal jamming for musicians, teachers, and bluegrass-lovers alike.
Don’t forget to visit the website at bluegrasshall.com to keep up with all things bluegrass, and subscribe to their monthly magazine, Bluegrass Unlimited, produced right here in Owensboro. The magazine has been an important project for the museum and has proven successful with subscribers from all fifty states and sixteen countries, according to Joslin.
Most importantly, the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum wants to bring music lovers together to celebrate, educate, and preserve that beautiful bluegrass sound. The museum honors Bill Monroe’s legacy in the truest form, inviting innovation, and encouraging the next generation of musicians to break boundaries. Keep on shining, Owensboro!