Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum opening in October

OWENSBORO, Ky — A free “Downtown ROMP” bluegrass festival with four acts on the outdoor stage of the new Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum on Oct. 20 will cap three days of opening festivities at the $15.3 million facility at Second and Frederica streets.

The celebration caps a 33-year effort by Owensboro to create a major attraction from bluegrass music.

“Dreams do come true — if you dream long enough,” Terry Woodward, chairman of the museum board, said Thursday.

Woodward was chairman of the old Owensboro-Daviess County Tourist Commission when that board began the effort to make Owensboro a home for bluegrass music in 1985.

“We’ve had a lot of help,” he said. “A lot of people from Owensboro and across the country have worked on this.”

Yonder Mountain String Band, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, will headline the one-day festival.

The Colorado-based band is known for progressive bluegrass, country and jam band music.

Other acts include High Fidelity, a traditional bluegrass band formed in 2014; Front Country, a folk, pop and progressive bluegrass band, which formed in San Francisco in 2011; and Town Mountain, a 13-year-old North Carolina band, whose sound has been described as “a bridge between traditional bluegrass, outlaw country and old-time, with sounds reminiscent of Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, J.D. Crowe and Tony Rice.”

The festival will be in the new grassy field on the north side of the museum near Smothers Park.

Museum officials say it will seat about 1,500 people.

But there’s room in Smothers Park across the street for several thousand more.

The celebration kicks off on Oct. 18 with Legends Night in the state-of-the-art Woodward Theatre.

It’s a private event with the International Bluegrass Music Association inducting five new members of its Hall of Fame posthumously.

The inductees will be Vassar Clements, Mike Seeger, Jake Tullock, Allen Shelton and Joe Val.

Several current members of the Hall of Fame are expected to perform along with other artists paying tribute to Hall of Fame members, which includes Bill Monroe, “the father of bluegrass music.”

Sam Bush, “the father of newgrass music,” will perform the first public concert in the new theater on Oct. 19.

But that event has already sold out the 447-seat theater.

“I was shocked that it sold out so fast,” Woodward said.

The museum exhibits will open on Oct. 20 — the first day the public can tour the facility.

Woodward said the free Downtown ROMP is designed to thank the people of Owensboro for their support through the years.

But he expects a lot of people from across the country — especially fans of Yonder Mountain String Band, who are known as “kinfolk” — to be in town that weekend.

Woodward said all the present and former trustees of the museum as well as past and present members of the IBMA board have been invited to Legends Night.

“I’m pretty happy with how the project has turned out,” he said. “But we’re just getting started.”


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