Owensboro is shooting to become the northernmost point on the Americana Music Triangle looking to join other cities on the 1,500 mile trail that includes nine music genres.
Currently, New Orleans serves as the southern point while the northern points include the Tennessee cities of Memphis and Nashville.
Aubrey Preston and the Franklin, Tennessee based Americana Music Association created the trail and recently visited Owensboro to discuss with local officials the possibility of including it.
The city's become a hub for bluegrass music and tourism. It's home to the International Bluegrass Music Museum and holds and annual bluegrass festival, the River of Music Party or ROMP, that draws about 20,000 people.
Ground is expected to be broken later this month on the International Bluegrass Music Center in downtown Owensboro. The city has already pledged $3 million to the project and now Daviess County says it’s contributing $500,000 dollars to the project over the next five years.
County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly says the music center will be the next step in the development of downtown that already includes the new convention center and two new hotels.
“This area, this block – an entire block – sits right at the end of that corridor,” said Mattingly. “It certainly will be an attraction to people who come into the community for conventions and in and of itself will be an attractor for visitors.”
Mattingly says the county’s money for the project comes from excess from a hotel-motel tax. He says in the past, similar money has been used to pay a million dollars on a bonded indebtedness of the Riverpark Center.
“We thought that since this [money] comes from visitors who come into this community, it’s specifically tasked to be spent on arts organizations in the downtown area and tourism,” said Mattingly.
The Bluegrass Music Center could open as soon as next year. The $12 million project has also received $5 million dollars in private donations. It's scheduled to include a 1,000-seat indoor theater and a 2,000-seat outdoor stage.
A state lawmaker is pushing for the creation of a bluegrass trail in Kentucky.
Democratic state Sen. Robin Webb of Grayson told The Independent that her proposal seeks to promote traditional Kentucky culture -- specifically Bluegrass music -- and would boost tourism.
Webb says her resolution could be accomplished with little funding -- mostly for signs.
If the proposal gets legislative approval, the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet would create and promote the bluegrass trail, which would identify and locate venues, festivals, concerts, museums, schools and historic and noteworthy sites that feature bluegrass music.
Webb said she would like to see it begin in eastern Kentucky before it spreads to the rest of the state.
Pokey LaFarge on his musical style, influences and life on the road
Among the things that make Pokey LaFarge stand out: his unique moniker, his throwback sound, the formal attire he often sports on stage and one of the songs from his latest album, which celebrates….a time zone.
I don’t mind the West Coast, and I don’t mind the East Coast, Oh, baby, but I ain’t gonna live on no coast. I’m just a plain ol’ Midwestern boy, gettin’ by on central time.
LaFarge says the song, called "Central Time", took him only five minutes to write
“Some songwriters would say that’s proof that it’s a good song,” said LaFarge. “Some of the best songs come out that way If it came out in five minutes, I wasn't even consciously thinking about it. It just came out.”
The 30-year-old St. Louis native along with his five-piece band will keep it within the Central time zone tonight as he performs in Bowling Green. The Pokey LaFarge sound can be described in a variety of different ways. He says it changes every time he’s asked.
“If I had to describe it today, I would say that it’s acoustic-rooted, horn-accentuated, lyric- and melody-driven Midwestern swing. How’s that?”
A former chairman of the International Bluegrass Music Museum’s board believes attendance to last week’s River of Music Party will approach 25,000. That would be up from last year’s ROMP attendance of 21,000.
Terry Woodward told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer that he didn’t hear a single negative comment about the bluegrass music festival at Yellow Creek Park, adding that he couldn’t “imagine it being any better than this.”
ROMP was named the event of the year for 2012 by the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Officials are taking cue from Tennessee in their effort to make Owensboro synonymous with bluegrass music.
Owensboro mayor Ron Payne wants to rename Second Street so that it reflects the city's growing reputation as a hub for bluegrass music. He says in Tennessee, Nashville, which is known for country music, has Music Row; Memphis, which is known for blues, has Beale Street.
Payne said he's already talked to City Commission members and now he's ready to hear ideas from the public for renaming the street.
Campbell "Doc" Mercer is throwing an annual festival celebrating the life and music of Bill Monroe but without the name of the "Father of Bluegrass Music" to promote it. Mercer, the head of the Jerusalem Ridge Foundation, is locked in a legal fight with Ohio County, Ky., and its industrial foundation about whether he was ever given the legal right to use Monroe's name for commercial purposes.
The Owensboro City Commission is giving the go-ahead to a budget amendment that includes money for a new bluegrass music center and skate park. The Messenger-Inquirer reports commissioners voted 3-to-2 in favor of the amendment at Tuesday night’s meeting at City Hall.
One of the top bluegrass guitarists in the world will be playing May 4th at the Roxy Theater in Franklin, along with mandolin specialist Mike Compton. Its part of a new series of Bluegrass Friday programs at the venue in Simpson County.
Governor Beshear's budget proposal does not include money for a new downtown bluegrass music center in Owensboro. The Messenger-Inquirer reports that the city and Daviess County did not receive funding for any capital projects in the Governor's two-year plan. Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne recently traveled to Frankfort to plead his case for $18 million to convert a downtown state office building into a new international bluegrass music center.