Bluegrass museum planning weekly concert series

Owensboro’s International Bluegrass Music Museum is gearing up for what may become a weekly series of bluegrass concerts featuring some of the top names in the business.

James King, known for his “mountain soul,” is slated to perform in the museum’s Bluegrass Unlimited Theatre at 7 p.m. March 26.

Tickets are $10. They can be ordered by calling the museum at 926-7891.

Kenny & Amanda Smith, a top husband-wife duet, will be in town on April 15 for a performance at the museum.

Ernie Evans, a Florida-based musician who plays guitar, man-dolin and banjo with Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, says he’s trying to line up every headliner in bluegrass to perform in a weekly series at the museum.

“We all need to get behind this museum,” he said in a telephone interview. “How would we feel if it doesn’t succeed and all those exhibits end up in a storage locker somewhere?”

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike performed the first concert in the series at the museum on Dec. 10.

“It was great,” Evans said. “It sold out ahead of time and the enthusiasm of the audience was incredible. We made some friends and fans that night. I’m still getting e-mails from some of them.”

The band returned in January for two weeks of performances in 23 local schools as part of the museum’s “Bluegrass in the Schools” program.

“We’ve been talking about this since December,” Evans said. “But I’ve only been working on it for about a month.”

He said three more acts are being confirmed this week.

Gabrielle Gray, the museum’s executive director, said the goal is to raise $10,000 to support the museum’s River of Music Party — a bluegrass festival fundraiser in Yellow Creek Park each June.

“A lot of festivals are going under,” she said. “The artists want to make sure that the museum’s festival doesn’t go under. This is a big vote of confidence in ROMP.”

The artists are donating their time and expenses to raising money for the museum and ROMP, she said.

The museum’s theater only seats about 70 people.

That’s small for some of the acts coming in.

But Evans said he wants the shows to sell out and be a hot ticket.

“If Ricky Skaggs comes in — and he’s been invited — we’d need a bigger venue,” he said. “But there’s no overhead at the museum. We don’t have to rent a venue. All the money goes to the museum this way.”

Evans has another connection with the bluegrass museum as well.

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike recorded an album — “Blame It On The Bluegrass” — at the museum in January.

It’s the first time any bluegrass group has done that.

Gray said more recording sessions may be scheduled in the future if other artists want to record there.

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike also shot video of the recording session that’s expected to be edited into a DVD.

The album will be released by Bell Buckle Records this spring.

 The first single, “Where The Sun Never Shines,” is expected to be released this month.

The museum is planning a release party for the CD sometime this spring.

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