Gill to headline opening night

Vince Gill, a Country Music Hall of Fame member whose roots are in bluegrass, will headline the opening night of the ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival on June 28 at Yellow Creek Park.

“He’s a fabulous artist,” said Gabrielle Gray, executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, which sponsors the festival. “He plays a lot of bluegrass in his shows.”

Gill, she said, “has a huge fan base. We’ve been polling people on who they’d like to see this year, and he’s been mentioned a lot.”

Gray said one more festival headliner remains to be announced.

The museum tried to get Gill in 2011, but he had already booked another show that weekend.

Last year, Steve Martin drew several thousand people from more than 40 states to Yellow Creek Park on the festival’s opening night, creating a 1.5-mile traffic jam that lasted for more than hour.

The museum and county parks department have been working since then to find a way to move people into the park at a faster clip.

Gray said four bands including Gill’s will perform on opening night of the three-day festival.

Gill, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007, began performing with a bluegrass band called Mountain Smoke while he was still in high school in Oklahoma.

After graduating high school in 1975, he moved to Louisville to join Bluegrass Alliance, one of the first big newgrass bands.

Gill also played in Ricky Skaggs’s Boone Creek and Byron Berline’s Sundance in the late 1970s.

In 1979, he joined Pure Prairie League as lead singer. The first of three albums he recorded with the country-pop band produced the Top 10 pop hit “Let Me Love You Tonight.”

In 1981, Gill joined Rodney Crowell’s Cherry Bombs.

The 1980s saw him beginning to record as a solo act in Nashville and touring with Emmylou Harris.

In 1988, he performed at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Fan Fest at English Park as a member of Harris’ Angel Band.

In September 1990, Gill and John McEuen hosted the IBMA’s first awards show in the Showroom Lounge of the Executive Inn Rivermont.

He performed at the Big E several times in the 1990s.

In 1992, Gill performed for the WaxWorks/VideoWorks trade show at the RiverPark Center.

The following year, he was named to the bluegrass museum’s advisory board along with such people as Skaggs, Dwight Yoakam and U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

In 1996, days after the death of Bill Monroe, “the father of bluegrass music,” Gill and Skaggs opened the IBMA awards show at the RiverPark Center singing, “What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul?” — the first song recorded by the Monroe Brothers (Bill and Charlie Monroe).

Gill has sold more than 26 million albums and received 18 Country Music Association awards, including entertainer of the year in 1993 and 1994.

He is tied with George Strait for having won the most CMA male vocalist awards at five.

Gill has also won 19 Grammy Awards, the most of any male country artist.

This year’s ROMP lineup includes Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Greensky Bluegrass, Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three, Lonesome River Band, The 23 Sting Band, Bearfoot, Monroeville, The Farewell Drifters, Town Mountain, The Expedition Show, NewTown, NewFound Road, Renegade Stringband, Snap Jackson & The Knock On Wood Players and Grandview Junction.

Tickets are available at rompfest.com or by calling 926-7891.

Early bird specials — $28 for a single-day ticket, $80 for a three-day general pass, $60 for a museum member or college student and $30 for a high school student — are in effect until April 1, Gray said.

From April 2 through June 15, single-day tickets are $30; general three-day passes, $85; college student, $65; museum members, $60; and high school students, $35.

At the gate, single-day tickets will be $35 and three-day tickets, $90.

Children 14 and under are admitted free with a paying adult.

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