Two festivals, three exhibits on tap for Monroe centennial

The approaching centennial of the birth of Bill Monroe, the “father of bluegrass music,” is creating a lot of business for the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro.

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.

In June, the museum opened The Bill Monroe Centennial Art Exhibit featuring artwork inspired by Monroe’s music. It’s available online at

In September, The Bill Monroe Exhibit opened at the museum. It features the fiddle of his uncle, Pendelton Vandiver, who was immortalized in Monroe’s classic, “Uncle Pen”; one of Monroe’s mandolins; and the defaced headstock veneer from his 1923 F-5 Lloyd Loar mandolin along with some of Monroe’s personal artifacts and clothing, records and photographs.

The Bill Monroe Centennial Exhibit opens this September with artifacts donated by former members of Monroe’s band — The Blue Grass Boys.

Two festivals are also on tap.

Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers will headline the ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival in Owensboro on June 23-25.

They will join the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, 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.

Every active member of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame will be performing in Owensboro on Sept. 12-14 to celebrate what would have been Monroe’s 100th birthday.

Earl Scruggs, whose banjo work in Monroe’s band in 1945 helped create the bluegrass sound, is scheduled to perform along with 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.

The museum’s sixth annual Monroe-Style Mandolin Camp, scheduled for Sept. 9-11, is filling up fast as a result of the approaching centennial.

“We’re already about half full,” Gabrielle Gray, the museum’s executive director, said of the 50 slots at the camp. “It’s usually April or May before we start getting reservations. But we already have people, signed up from six countries including the U.S.”

For information on any of the events included in the Monroe centennial, call the museum at (270) 926-7891 or (888) MY BANJO (692-2656)  or check the website —

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