february 2011


Int’l Bluegrass Music Museum Plans Monroe Centennial Festivities

Three 2011 festivals planned, featuring Steve Martin, the Punch Brothers and Earl Scruggs

The International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owesnboro, KY, is already gearing up for the Bill Monroe centennial by mounting two new Bill Monroe exhibits, with a third planned for September, the centennial month, and is also presenting two festivals that will essentially provide attendees with an overview of bluegrass history by way of artist lineups comprised of everyone from veterans who knew and played with Monroe and helped shape the sound of bluegrass to modern-day practitioners, some of whom are deeply invested in advancing Monroe’s traditional style, along with others who brought classical, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll influences to bear on the music in establishing the genre’s progressive wing. A real extravaganza and must-see event occurs September 12-14,when every active member of the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Fame will be performing in Owensboro to celebrate Mr. Bill’s 100th. Not least of all, the Museum’s sixth annual Monroe-Style Mandolin Camp will take place from September 9-11.

Already going full steam at the Museum are The Bill Monroe Centennial Art Exhibit featuring artwork inspired by Monroe's music (and for sale online at www.bluegrass-museum.org) and The Bill Monroe Exhibit. The latter’s attractions include the fiddle of Monroe’s uncle, Pendelton Vandiver, who inspired Monroe's bluegrass monument, "Uncle Pen"; one of Monroe's mandolins; and the defaced headstock veneer from his 1923 F-5 Lloyd Loar mandolin, as well as some of Monroe's personal artifacts, clothing, records and photographs. This September, the centennial month proper, comes The Bill Monroe Centennial Exhibit, which will include artifact donated by former members of Monroe's band, the Blue Grass Boys.

Bill Monroe, ‘Uncle Pen.’ As part of its Bill Monroe Centennial celebration, the International Bluegrass Music Museum is displaying the fiddle of Mr. Bill’s uncle, Pendelton Vandiver, who inspired the classic ‘Uncle Pen’

Earl Scruggs

As for the festivals, the first will take place on June 23-25 in Owenseboro. ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival already boasts a fairly awesome talent lineup headlined by Grammy winning banjo man Steve Martin with The Steep Canyon Rangers (touring behind their new album, Rare Bird Alert, due in March), the groundbreaking progressives The Punch Brothers (led by Chris Thile), plus the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Pete & Joan Wernick, Audie Blaylock & Redline, Tony Rice, Mountain Heart, Trampled By Turtles, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, The 23 String Band, the Josh Williams Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, the Professors of Bluegrass and Sarah Jarosz for the three-day event.

At the IBMA Hall of Fame event, participants will include Earl Scruggs, whose advanced approach to the banjo defined Monroe’s bluegrass sound in 1945 and has been the touchstone for virtually every bluegrass banjo picker since. Also set to appear: Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman, J.D. Crowe, Bobby Osborne, Eddie Adcock, Tom Gray, Kenny Baker, Curly Seckler, Everett Lilly, The Lewis Family, Bill Clifton, Rodney Dillard, Melvin Goins and Paul Williams.

Other bluegrass pioneers and former Blue Grass Boys will also be performing at the three-day Bill Monroe Centennial Celebration.

According to the museum, the buzz about the forthcoming centennial celebrations has ratcheted up interest in the Mandolin Camp. Speaking to the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer in early February, museum executive director Gabrielle Gray said the camp was nearly half-full at an unprecedented early juncture in the sign-up period. "It's usually April or May before we start getting reservations,” she noted. “But we already have people signed up from six countries including the U.S."

Monroe was born on a farm outside Rosine, Ky.—about 40 minutes from the museum—on Sept. 13, 1911. He died on Sept. 9, 1996, and is buried in Rosine Cemetery.

For information on any of the events included in the Monroe centennial, call the museum at (888) MY BANJO (692-2656) or check the museum web page for the Bill Monroe 100th Birthday Celebration.

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