Arts & Culture

Lisa Autry

Ohio County is home to Bill Monroe, the man known as Father of Bluegrass music. 

His hometown is preparing to kick off a campaign to raise a half-million dollars to build a museum in his honor.  That’s despite the fact that a much larger International Bluegrass Museum in Owensboro is only 40 miles away.

For more than a decade, a collection of Bill Monroe’s personal items has been sitting in a dusty storage facility.  The location is secret for security reasons.  Locked away are his old gray Cadillac, a plow, furniture, suits, and awards.  Monroe’s last mandolin is stored in a separate, climate-controlled facility. 

Sixteen years ago, Ohio County bought the collection from Monroe’s family.  Jody Flener heads the county’s Tourism Commission and says part of the deal was that the items had to stay in Ohio County.

”The connection is to Ohio County for Bill Monroe," Flener told WKU Public Radio.  "What’s exciting about living in Ohio County is that you still have people who grew up with Bill Monroe and we even have relatives still here."

In December, the county hopes to start fundraising for a 15,000-square-foot museum to house the memorabilia.  It’s planed for the tiny town of Rosine, just a few miles from where the Bluegrass icon was born and buried.  That’s only a half-hour drive from the International Bluegrass Museum in Owensboro – but Flener says it wouldn’t be redundant.

In the isolated regions of Central Appalachia, music was once the only form of entertainment. It's still alive today thanks to The Crooked Road, a driving trail that connects music venues in Southwest Virginia. It stretches from the Blue Ridge to the Cumberland Mountains for 333 miles, crossing some of the poorest areas in the country.

Making a living in those areas has never been easy, as guitarist Greg Ward knows. He's a native of Floyd, Va. — population: 432.

"You know, it was a rough life," he says. "It was a hard life."

Emil Moffatt

The Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center in Bowling Green is receiving a $750,000 gift aimed at supporting arts education in the Scottsville area.

SKyPAC announced the gift from the Laura Goad Turner Charitable Foundation Wednesday. A news release issued by the performing arts center said $500,000 of the gift will be used over the next five years to support SKyPAC’s Arts-In-Education program in Allen County schools.

The remaining $250,000 will be used as a matching grant to support the Engaging HeARTs—Enriching Lives campaign, which aims to raise $6 million over the next three years to support arts education, local performances, and entertainment.

The Laura Goad Turner Charitable Foundation’s mission is to provide support to residents of the Scottsville-Allen County area.

As second novels go, this one should prove a doozy. More than five decades after Harper Lee published her first — and, so far, only — novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee's publisher has announced that she plans to release a new one. The book, currently titled Go Set a Watchman, will be published July 14.

Gary Pepper expects some things to get broken when the Forecastle Festival comes to Waterfront Park this summer.

“It’s a huge event,” said Pepper, director of facilities for the Waterfront Development Corporation. “Stuff gets tore up, you have to anticipate it.”

The Waterfront Park staff will continue anticipating the wear and tear for at least a few more years.

Louisville Museum's British Armor Collection Leaving Town

Jan 12, 2015

The Frazier History Museum in downtown Louisville is giving visitors a last chance to see the Royal Armouries exhibit before it returns to England.

The exhibit has been on loan from the National Museum's collection of arms. It has been on display since the museum opened a decade ago. It closes on Jan. 19.

Included in the collection is the armor of the 16th-century poet and soldier, Sir Philip Sidney, who was killed in battle in 1586.

The exhibit's items will be packed up and sent back to the National Museum of Arms and Armour in Leeds, England. Some of it will go on display at the Tower of London.

The Frazier Museum says the two museums are exploring opportunities to continue to work together after the exhibit closes.

Kevin Willis

The executive director of Owensboro’s International Bluegrass Music Museum is stepping down after a 12 year run.

However, Gabrielle Gray will maintain her presence in the region’s bluegrass community.

Gray will keep her position as the Executive Producer of ROMP, the annual bluegrass music festival in Daviess County, and she will also remain the museum’s primary grant writer.

Assistant Director Carly Smith, who has been at the museum since 2011, will serve as interim director while the search for a permanent replacement gets underway. That search will be led by Yale University President Peter Salovey.

A news release issued by the museum quotes Gray as saying that nothing gives her greater pleasure than helping to present ROMP at Yellow Creek Park each summer.

The Museum recently announced that legendary singer-songwriter John Prine will be one of the headliners during next year’s festival.

Legendary songwriter John Prine will appear in Owensboro next year as one of the headliners of anannual bluegrass music event.

The 68-year-old will perform next June at the River of Music Party.  Prine wrote the famous song “Paradise” about the coal-mining industry in Muhlenberg County, and he won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2004 for an album that featured a recording of Stephen Foster’s song, “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The rest of the 2015 ROMP lineup will announced as acts are booked, with the full slate expected by mid-February.

Expect to be good for nothing for a long time after you read Ron Rash. His writing is powerful, stripped down and very still: It takes you to a land apart, psychologically and geographically, since his fiction is set in Appalachia.

nkybrotherhood.com

Some of the best gospel musicians in the Bluegrass State will be in Bowling Green Tuesday evening.

The WKU Cultural Enhancement Series is sponsoring the show called Kentucky Glory: Gospel Music from the Commonwealth.

“It’s going to bring together the Northern Kentucky Brotherhood, an acapella African-American group from Covington,” said Brent Bjorkman, director of the Kentucky Folklife Program at WKU, and a member of the Cultural Enhancement Series committee. “Also, Paul Mosely and his friends—he’s an award-winning thumbpicker, but they also play some sacred music as well. And starting out the show is our very own John Edmonds, from the Bowling Green area.”

Bjorkman says the music presented Tuesday evening is a kind that impacts many people in the region.

“Church, going to church, and worshipping is very much part of many peoples’ lives here in the commonwealth. So it’s a wonderful thing to bring together African-American and white churches. Everybody really has a connection to this particular kind of music we call gospel.”

The show begins at  7 p.m. Tuesday at the Downing Student Union auditorium.

Photo Gallery: The Making of a Horror Film

Nov 1, 2014
Abbey Oldham

It's the time of year when people are tuning into special Halloween themed episodes of their favorite shows and searching the horror section of Netflix for their annual haunted pleasure. But some WKU students aren't only watching scary films, they are creating one.

Amber Langston, a WKU film student, wrote and directed "The Milkman," about a milkman in the 1950s who kills his customers. Langston and her crew shot the film Sunday, October 26, 2014. 

Abbey Oldham

The Forgotten Girl is the latest book by author and WKU English Professor David Bell. Like many of his previous novels, The Forgotten Girl centers largely around family dynamics and unresolved issues from the past that rear their ugly heads in the present.

Bell came to the studios of WKU Public Radio to talk about his latest book, the book trailer that accompanied it, and whether or not he wishes he could change any part of his previous books.

Here are some excerpts from our interview:

WKU Public Radio: The Forgotten Girl opens with the character Jason Danvers having an unexpected encounter with his younger sister. Without giving away the ending, can you give us an idea of the dynamic between this brother and sister?

David Bell: Jason has moved back to his hometown because of a career change, and he has not seen his younger sister for five years. His sister throughout her life has struggled with substance abuse issues. So he and his sister basically reach this crossroads where he practiced tough love and said, “You’ve got to stay out of my life if you’re not going to have your act together.”

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The shuttered Kentucky Repertory Theatre in Horse Cave could be on the verge of coming back to life. 

The regional theater company Kentucky Stages has made an offer to purchase the three buildings that once housed the Horse Cave attraction. Mayor Randall Curry is thrilled at the prospects for reopening. 

"I've been in Horse Cave all my life," Curry told WKU Public Radio.  "I remember when the theater was organized back in the 70s and I'd like to get that relationship back into this community, people coming back here and sharing their talents with the people of south central Kentucky."

Once a destination for people all over Kentucky and beyond, financial problems forced the Kentucky Repertory Theatre to close last year. It was purchased at auction by Citizens First Bank in Horse Cave and has been for sale since then. 

Kentucky Stages hopes to close on the deal by the end of the year and open the theater for performances next summer.

Bill Luster

Looking back on his five decades as a newspaper photographer in Louisville, Bill Luster recalls an assignment that took him to a strip club called the Toy Tiger. 

The Toy Tiger was threatening to sue a nearby nursing home after some of its residents brought in an exotic dancer for a birthday party. So the nursing home thought a field trip was in order. The result of the assignment was a photo of three women from the nursing home and a much younger, shirtless man.

“This is my most fun assignment ever,” said Luster.  “Because, they were just having a good time.  Some of the women were a little apprehensive about it, but they enjoyed themselves.”

It’s just one of Luster’s photos currently on display at Gallery 916 in downtown Bowling Green.

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