Bill Monroe Centennial next week

Some of the biggest names in bluegrass music will be in Owensboro next week to celebrate what would have been Bill Monroe’s 100th birthday.

Monroe, “the father of bluegrass music,” was born on Jerusalem Ridge near Rosine on Sept. 13, 1911. He died on Sept. 9, 1996, and is buried in Rosine Cemetery.

The International Bluegrass Music Museum will celebrate the Monroe centennial with three days of music Monday through Wednesday at the RiverPark Center, featuring all the members of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame who are still performing.

The list includes banjo great Earl Scruggs, whose banjo playing as a member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in the mid-1940s set a standard for future generations of bluegrass musicians.

 

Monroe’s son, James Monroe, will also be featured.

Gabrielle Gray, the museum’s executive director, said fans are coming from across the country as well as in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

Several Japanese fans are coming, she said.

Gray said this will be the largest gathering of bluegrass legends ever at a single festival.

“I checked with Lance LeRoy (a Hall of Fame agent and manager),” she said. “He said there has never been a festival with a lineup like this. We’re going to have one enormous headliner after another.”

And there may never be another with the same lineup. Age is catching up with some of the legends.

Doc Watson and Mac Wiseman had to drop out of this year’s festival because of health problems. And fiddle great Kenny Baker died this summer.

“This might be the last chance to see some of these legends perform,” Gray said earlier.

Performers include Ralph Stanley, Curly Seckler, J.D. Crowe, Everett Lilly, Jesse McReynolds, the Lewis Family, Rodney Dillard, Doug Dillard, Melvin Goins, Paul Williams; Bill Clifton, Tom Gray and Eddie Adcock.

One of the world’s oldest bluegrass bands, The Dismembered Tennesseans, will also perform. The band has been active since 1945, the year Scruggs joined Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys.

Tickets — which range from $100 to $175 for all three days — can be purchased at the museum at 117 Daviess St. or by calling 926-7891.

Single-day tickets will be available at the RiverPark Center’s box office on the day of the show. The $35 seats will be located in the balcony.

“We won’t know how many single-day tickets will be available until that day,” Gray said. “People should buy them early in the day.”

Jane Beshear, Kentucky’s first lady, will be in town at 9 a.m. Monday to greet students attending a preview of the musical, “Young Monroe” in the RiverPark Center’s Cannon Hall.

The musical will be performed again as part of the Monroe Centennial at 7 p.m. Monday in Cannon Hall.

Mike Cooper, Kentucky’s tourism commissioner, and Lindy Casebier, deputy secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, are slated to attend the centennial, Gray said.

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