you read the previous WWUH Program Guide you know that Thursday,
April 11, 2002 marked the grand opening of the International Bluegrass
Music Museum (IBMM) at the River Park Center in Owensboro, Kentucky.
After two years of complete renovation the museum now consists of
two floors of Bluegrass memorabilia, history, interactive displays,
and even a glimpse into the bright future of Bluegrass music.
On this day one could find Kentucky's Governor Paul Patton and the
Mayor of Owensboro mingling with Bluegrass fans, artists, festival
promoters, radio personalities, recording company representatives,
International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) officials, board
members of The Bill Monroe Foundation, and nearly 2,000 Bluegrass
music fans. All gathered in anticipation of the ribbon cutting ceremony
and the opening of the doors to the museum. All of the IBMM events
were exciting - from the rush of people toward the doors as the
opening ceremony drew to a close, to the various concerts and organized
jam sessions on the stage of Woodward's Cafe next door to the IBMM.
This day was a great success and an extremely proud feeling for
anyone who cares about Bluegrass music.
As fantastic as all this seemed to be, perhaps nothing was as emotional
and historic as the gathering of Bluegrass pioneers in attendance
for a very special moment. That moment being the official dedication
of a plaque honoring Bluegrass music's "First Generation"
of men and women. At the 2001 International Bluegrass Music Awards,
the industry paid tribute to the First Generation - the individual
artists who were the first creators and practitioners of Bluegrass
music. This special honor, bestowed by the 2,500 members of the
IBMA, is in recognition of their collective contributions and achievements,
which have proven to be the foundation for the music's success.
Between 1940 an 1954, every person whose name is being recognized
on this plaque helped to establish the vocal, instrumental and entertainment
styles of Bluegrass. Their artistry, in live performances and on
the earliest recordings, set the standards for the music's distinct
This "First Generation" plaque was the brainchild of Bluegrass
pioneers Sonny Osborne (of the Osborne Brothers), Mac Wiseman, and
Eddie Stubbs (Bluegrass historian; former fiddler with the Johnson
Mt. Boys and The Kitty Wells Show; currently a DJ at WSM radio and
announcer at the Grand Ole Opry). I visited with Eddie before the
ceremony and he was visibly nervous. "This day is long overdue.
You and I are not likely to see some of these people all in one
place, ever again. I'm a little choked-up...I hope I can make it
through reading all their names", said Stubbs. Later, as he
looked out at the faces of those in attendance, Eddie did break
down emotionally during the proceedings for about a minute - maybe
more - as he neared the end of the list of names. There is possibly
no one person in the music business as knowledgeable, emotional,
nor as dedicated as Eddie Stubbs when it comes to praising the pioneers
of Bluegrass music.
Indeed there were some very famous faces staring back at Eddie in
that silent room of some 800 people hanging on his every word. A
partial list of the pioneers who were in attendance, and whose names
appear on the plaque, include Kitty Wells & Johnnie Wright,
Curly Seckler, Charlie Bailey, Patsy Stoneman, Jim & Jesse McReynolds,
Bobby Osborne, Mac Magaha, Eddie Adcock and Art Stamper. Also Bob
& Grace French, J.D. Crowe, and the McCormick Bros. - Haskell,
Kelly and Lloyd. There were also family members of deceased Bluegrass
pioneers such as Carter Stanley (represented by his daughter), Don
Reno (represented by his son, Ronnie Reno), Paul Warren (represented
by his widow, now Mrs. Curly Seckler!), and the Stanley Brother's
first mandolinist Pee Wee Lambert (represented by his wife &
daughter). There were many others as well. It was an amazing feeling
to be in the same room as all of these people. It's no wonder Eddie
could not hold back his tears of joy and respect.
Sonny Osborne listens while an emotional Eddie Stubbs speaks directly
to the Bluegrass pioneers, their family members, and fans attending
the plaque ceremony.
When you visit the IBMM you will find the "First Generation"
plaque on permanent display on the second floor. Some of the names
will be very familiar to Bluegrass musicians and fans in the northeast:
Joe Val (MA), Bob & Grace French (ME), Tex Logan(NJ), Don Stover,
the Lilly Brothers - Everett and Bea, and Toby Stroud. The plaque
currently includes 232 names and a special committee, upon request,
will consider additional persons whose contributions to Bluegrass
music fit the criteria. The board members of the IBMM welcome your
suggestions. I hope you will find the time to visit the International
Bluegrass Music Museum in the near future. All of us in attendance
that weekend were proud of the IBMM for taking on the monumental
task of preserving America's Bluegrass history, for providing such
a state-of-the-art presentation to the "outside" world,
and for its depiction of a bright future for Bluegrass music. As
we drove across the Ohio River Bridge toward home we were content
knowing this musical heritage and its archives, after nearly 60
years, now has a permanent residence in that northern region of
Kentucky now known (as proclaimed by the Governor of Kentucky himself)
as the "Official Home of Bluegrass Music".
NOTE: Another Bluegrass destination while in the region would be
the home base of The Bill Monroe Foundation (only thirty minutes
south of Owensboro) in Rosine, KY. Look for the big "Monroe
Homeplace" sign on the right as you follow Hwy. 62 east toward
Rosine from Hwy. 231. It will guide you toward the dirt road, past
Charlie Monroe's home, and on up to Jerusalem Ridge and the newly
restored homeplace of the Monroe Clan. In town you'll find the two
churches where Bill Monroe learned his Bluegrass Gospel harmony
structure and the small cemetery where the Monroe family graves
are located. You may even meet up with Monroe's niece, Rosetta,
who spends a fair amount of time up at the old homeplace.
International Bluegrass Music Museum
207 East Second Street
Owensboro, KY 42303
Tel: (270) 926-7891
The Bill Monroe Foundation
P.O. Box 429
Rosine, KY 42370
-Photo & article by Kevin Lynch
Copyright©WWUH: September October
Program Guide, 2002