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.
For the last 10 weeks, Mustered Courage, a bluegrass quartet from Melbourne, Australia has been zigzagging across America in a white conversion van that, according to the band, hasn’t always been the most dependable.
“When we’re traveling down the road, it’s a lot better than when we’re on the side of the road, I’ll tell you that much,” said banjo player and lead singer Nick Keeling.
“We’ve had a couple of van breakdowns,” added guitarist Julian Abrahams.
They've also been crammed into small hotel rooms, eaten food of varying quality and had to dodge cars in some larger northeast cities while trying to cross the street.
Keeling is originally from Austin, Texas, Abrahams is a native Australian. The two met at school where they were studying jazz. Later they would play together in a hip-hop band.
“Jazz actually has a lot of similarities to bluegrass the improvisation is such a key element to bluegrass music. Jazz is all about soloing and playing as many notes as you can, or as little notes as you can,” said Abrahams.
“Nick and I played too many notes in jazz, so we got ousted and banned from playing jazz; blacklisted and banished to the wasteland of bluegrass music,” said Abrahams with a grin. “Hip-hop? Well, we just didn’t want to be mid-30 year-old white rappers from Australia, so we thought we might be more suited to playing bluegrass in our 30s.”
A bluegrass musician buried in an unmarked grave in Somerset is going to receive a proper grave marker this weekend.
Leonard Rutherford was a popular bluegrass artist in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, and performed as part of the Burnett-Rutherford Duo.
But Rutherford fell on hard times and was found dead along a Somerset road in 1951 at the age of 53.
Somerset Cemetery manager Tricia Neal says Rutherford's grave site was only recently identified when a local historian began asking about the long-forgotten musician.
"I started looking and I couldn't find him anywhere,” Neal told WKU Public Radio. “And I ended up just finding a penciled-in name on the back of an old index card. It had a note where he had been buried in this grave, and I went out to the cemetery and found it."
A Tennessee-based company that provides online services for fans of bluegrass music is establishing a presence in Daviess County.
Terry Herd, co-founder of Nashville-based Bluegrass Today, told the Messenger-Inquirer that the decision indicates how significant Owensboro, Ky., is in the bluegrass music industry.
The city is home to the International Bluegrass Museum and hosts the annual ROMP: Bluegrass Roots and Branches Festival, which was named the "event of the year" in 2012 by the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Bluegrass Today, which launched about two years ago, includes news, airplay charts, forums and directories for fans.
The company said Sean Dysinger will head up its presence in Owensboro.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has denied a request to review a case over how the name of legendary bluegrass musician Bill Monroe can be used.
The Messenger-Inquirer reports that means a court of appeals ruling stands. The panel concluded that county officials meant to grant the festival the legal right to use Monroe's name but failed to formalize the agreement in writing before a falling out occurred in 2004.
The battle isn't quite over yet, though.
Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Foundation of Kentucky Inc. Director Campbell Mercer said the Ohio County Industrial Foundation and Bill Monroe's son, James Monroe, obtained a temporary injunction in Tennessee to prohibit him from using the name.
Mercer says he hopes the Kentucky court rulings will help his case in Tennessee.
Kevin's audio feature about the 8th annual Bill Monroe Style Mandolin Camp in Owensboro
On an unseasonably cool Friday afternoon in Owensboro recently, the sounds of an unusual summer camp were being heard in the city's downtown.
About 50 campers from across the country--and some from other countries--were in Daviess County to learn the finer points of one of the great instruments of bluegrass music during the eighth annual Bill Monroe Style Mandolin Camp.
Held at the International Bluegrass Music Museum, the camp is a three-day affair focusing exclusively on the instrument Bill Monroe played as he gained the reputation of being the "Father of Bluegrass Music."
"This is the only camp that I know of that specializes specifically on mandolin style. And it's no other instruments--it's all mandolin players, all Bill Monroe, all the time," says Mike Compton, the camp's director.
Compton is a Mississippi native who now lives in Nashville. He says it's an honor to be a part of a camp that pays tribute to an American musical genius.
Even those who don't consider themselves bluegrass fans are likely familiar with the name Bill Monroe. The Rosine, Kentucky, native gained acclaim for his technical wizardry on the mandolin, inspiring legions of fans throughout the U.S. and beyond.
Kevin's interview with Lilly Drumeva, and some excerpts from Lilly of the West's album "Swings and Heartaches"
When you think of bluegrass and country music, places like Kentucky and Tennessee probably come to mind.
A scholar and musician who has been studying at WKU has another location for your list: Bulgaria.
Lilly Drumeva is a Bulgarian bluegrass and country musician who has been conducting research at WKU as part of her Fulbright Scholarship. During her time in Bowling Green, Lilly has worked closely with the WKU Folk Studies Department and Erika Brady, host of WKU Public Radio’s Barren River Breakdown.
Lilly will also travel to Nashville to research the business side of country and bluegrass music, as well as attend an international bluegrass conference in Raleigh, NC. She returns to Bulgaria in November, and will begin crafting her research into a Bulgarian-language book on bluegrass and country music.
She stopped by WKU Public Radio to talk to us about how she first encountered bluegrass music, and how the genre’s roots can be traced back to different part of Europe—including her native Bulgaria.
A court fight over the use of the name of legendary bluegrass musician Bill Monroe isn't over yet.
The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports the Ohio County Industrial Foundation has filed a petition with the Kentucky Court of Appeals seeking a rehearing on whether a non-profit organization can use Monroe's name to promote the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Festival and for tours of the musicians home in Rosine.
The appelas court decision in favor of the nonprofit pranization was a reversal of a lower court decision that found Ohio County held the intellectual property rights to Monroe's name and could stop the festival from using it. The Ohio County Industrial Foundation voted unanimously this month to seek the re-hearing.