There have been some
major behind-the-scenes movements in the Bluegrass world during
the past year or so. Two organizations have committed themselves
to preserving the history of, and future of, Bluegrass music: The
International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) in Owensboro, KY and
The Bill Monroe Foundation (BMF) in Bill Monroe's hometown of Rosine,
KY. Both organizations have been hard at work and are looking forward
to a successful year in 2002. Many of us who are actively involved
in the genre believe the IBMM and BMF, along with the continued
successes of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA),
will collectively bring Bluegrass music to the awareness of countless
numbers of people still not familiar with the genre. Not to mention
securing the future of Bluegrass music history. We, as Bluegrass
fans, have all witnessed the appeal of this music to the masses
since the outstanding success of the soundtrack and the film O Brother,
Where Art Thou? for the past two years. At this writing the soundtrack
is nearing 5 million in sales! The entire music business world has
never, ever seen such a success with little or no advertising...and
certainly no support from the commercial radio world, "country"
radio in particular in this case. There are some very good lessons
to be learned from this "phenomenon" (which commercial
radio likes to call it). One such lesson is that there are huge
numbers of people out there willing to listen to something new;
buy the CDs, concert and festival tickets, and perhaps even join
Bluegrass organizations. Potential fans and supporters just need
to be enlightened and given some hard evidence of the existence
of solid Bluegrass foundations such as the IBMA, IBMM and BMF.
The International Bluegrass Music Museum has been in a state of
total reconstruction since it closed for renovations in 2000. This
included the actual structure of the building itself in addition
to installing state-of-the-art interactive exhibits. According to
museum chairman Steve Brechter (former WWUH staff member now living
in Ohio), "...the 'grand reopening' ceremony for the newly
renovated International Bluegrass Music Museum will be held on April
11, 2002 in conjunction with the Executive Inn's Bluegrass Weekend
in Owensboro, KY. Events are planned in RiverPark Center and at
the Museum itself. Several national artists will be on hand to perform
as part of the festivities. The Museum recently completed a $3 million
renovation and has been completely redesigned. Covering two floors,
museum visitors will enter and begin tracing the footsteps of Bluegrass
history as they walk through galleries highlighting all aspects
of bluegrass while music is projected locally in each gallery through
sound domes that confine it to the specific area being viewed. One
gallery brings the visitor through a bluegrass festival campsite.
The Museum houses the IBMA Hall of Honor and features an experiential
hands-on gallery where visitors can mix their own bluegrass band
and hear how the music is played instrument by instrument. For information
contact IBMM executive director Chuck Hayes at the Owensboro-Daviess
County Tourist Commission at 1-800-489-1131.
The city of Owensboro, KY will hold its first 3-day indoor festival
following the grand re-opening of the IBMM just a block away at
the newly renovated Executive Inn on the Ohio River:
First Annual Bluegrass Weekend
Executive Inn in Owensboro, Ky
The following acts will perform: J.D. Crowe & The New South,
Ronnie Reno & The Reno Tradition, Larry Cordle and Lonesome
Standard Time, Mountain Heart, Blue Highway, Mike Snider Band, Del
McCoury Band, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, The Village Singers,
The Isaacs and more. (800) 626-1936 or (270) 926-8000.
While the IBMA and IBMM are well established and impressive organizations
having been in the public eye for years, The Bill Monroe Foundation
has found itself to be every bit as prestigious as its Kentucky
neighbors. The BMF is preserving Bluegrass history in a big way!
Thanks to BMF founder / president and longtime friend of Bill Monroe,
Dr. Campbell Mercer, the BMF has already realized what were just
dreams not that long ago. The complete restoration and landscaping
of Bill Monroe's childhood home, a down-payment on 1.125 million
dollars for Bill Monroe's famous 1923 Gibson F-5 "Lloyd Loar"
Mandolin, and much more. The following is a statement released by
Dr. Mercer re: the proposals and actions of the Bill Monroe Foundation
[please note that some of these proposals may have been realized
since this writing of Jan. 27th].
The Bill Monroe Foundation
Non-Profit / Founded in 2001
The Bill Monroe Foundation is made up of people just like you who
love the music of Bill Monroe and other traditional Bluegrass artists.
Our members also appreciate the culture and want to preserve the
way of life that this true American music reflects for us and for
our countless future generations. We are going to succeed in this
mission, but we need to start here, in the heart of it all, in Rosine,
Kentucky, where it [Bluegrass Music] all began.
Phase 1 -- Purchased 20 acres in Rosine to construct Museum to
honor Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, rest of Monroe Family,
and the people and music that influenced Bill: $Paid in Full.
Phase 2 -- Purchase memorabilia and right to use Bill Monroe's
name as pertains to this project: $250,000 $Paid in Full
Phase 3 -- Already purchased (with a down payment) America's and
Kentucky's most valuable musical instrument, Bill Monroe's Lloyd
Loar Gibson Mandolin F-5 for $1,125,000.00 Balance owed by Oct.
Phase 4a -- Completely Restored Monroe Home Place and purchased
5 acres that it sits on: $390,000 $Paid in Full and Project is complete.
Phase 4b -- Restore Charlie Monroe's Home for visitor center: $100,000
Phase 5 -- Finish blueprints and plans for Museum: $150,000 $Paid
Phase 6 -- Purchase Uncle Pen's Cabin and surrounding land: $30,000
Phase 7 -- Pay off balance on 'The Mandolin' before October 2002.
Phase 8 -- Begin construction of Museum: $2 million
Phase 9 -- Purchase and preserve entire 1000-acre farm. Create
living history experience: $5 million
Note: $16 million needed for phases 1-9;
$800,000 was made available...
$300,000 held back by State of KY and legislation in Jan. 2002 may
freeze all funding!
Phase 10 -- Restore Rosine, KY to an authentic 1920's appearance,
rich character and way of life, complete with a music hall dedicated
to traditional music, and train rides to the park entrance: $ 3
I would urge anyone who would like to be a part of this historic
plan to become a charter member of The Bill Monroe Foundation. You
might also donate any personal items you may have received from
Bill Monroe; i.e., autographed photos, concert posters, letters,
etc. All memberships and donations are tax deductible. The next
few months will be a crucial period for the BMF since it must pay
the balance on Bill Monroe's famous mandolin before October 1st.
This is the major focus at the moment. Other proposed ideas will
always be possible - even if delayed - but once the mandolin is
gone, it is most likely gone for good. It is quite possible Bill
Monroe's mandolin could be bought and shipped out of the country
if the BMF does not pay the balance by October. In the May/June
Program Guide I will give detailed information on how you can buy
stock in the Bill Monroe mandolin while supporting the efforts of
the BMF at the same time. Contact the BMF by writing or calling:
The Bill Monroe Foundation Membership info:
P.O. Box 429
Call Sherry toll-free at
Rosine, KY 42370
1-888-987-6444, M-F / 8-4 EST
The future of the IBMA, IBMM and BMF should be of the utmost concern
to any person who cares about Bluegrass music or American music
history in general. There have been a lot of major events in Bluegrass
history in our lifetime. We are certainly living in another of those
historic periods and as time moves on, and bits & pieces of
Bluegrass history could possibly be lost forever, it will take all
of us to help preserve and protect the Bluegrass past, present,
Copyright©WWUH: March/April Program