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The Pioneers of Bluegrass Gather for River of Music Party

By Mandolin Cafe
June 20, 2009 - 7:00 am

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International Bluegrass Music Museum

International Bluegrass Music Museum

Owensboro, Ky. — The International Bluegrass Music Museum's annual festival, ROMP, the River of Music Party, takes place Wednesday through Saturday, June 24-27, at the museum in downtown Owensboro, at the RiverPark Center next door to the museum, and at Yellow Creek Park, on the eastern outskirts of Owensboro.

Many of the bluegrass pioneers attending ROMP '09 played in Bill Monroe's band, The Bluegrass Boys. Others formed their own groups and took the music he created and they helped to shape to cities, towns & countries far and wide. People from all over the world will be in Owensboro to celebrate this occasion.

Over 60 of the iconic artists who were among the earliest practitioners of bluegrass music will be coming from coast-to-coast and as far distant as Japan to take part in this event. They are gathering to visit with lifelong friends and to revisit the museum that will preserve their collections, artifacts, and life histories.

The sheer scope of their combined lifetime experiences in shaping and disseminating one of our nation's original music genres and the vast numbers attending, make this a seminal, once-in-a-lifetime event not to be missed by anyone who treasures traditional acoustic music.

In 2003 the museum began professionally videotaping the lives of this pioneering first generation, musicians who were professionally playing bluegrass music by the mid-20th century. To date, 170 first-person interviews and nearly half as many concert performances have been filmed, creating a priceless treasure trove—one of the nation's most informative and comprehensive folk archives. (For an interview with Video Oral History Project director, Joe Gray, call 502-244-9444.)

Documentary-style films of these musicians will be shown during the "Bluegrass Masters Film Festival" taking place during ROMP and the Pioneers Gathering. From Earl Scruggs to Pete Seeger to The Ozaki Brothers and dozens more, one can learn about their histories from the musicians who shaped this exhilarating, virtuostic music that has spread globally with a rapidly expanding fan base, particularly since the advent of O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2000. An extensive exhibit of their artifacts will open on June 24 at the museum in the gallery beside the Hall of Fame.

To honor these legendary figures, the museum is hosting a Legends Supper on Thursday June 25, followed by The Legends Concert at 7:00 p.m. during which each of the pioneers will be formally introduced and honored for their contributions to bluegrass music. Chattanooga realtor/lifelong fiddle player Fletcher Bright, of The Dismembered Tennesseans (the longest-running bluegrass band still performing) is sponsor of this mega-event. (For an interview, call him at 423-752-0112.)

Wednesday's events begin with a full slate of performances by "regional" (i.e. within a 75-mile radius of Owensboro) bluegrass bands who have donated their performances to this event. That evening, the much-anticipated "ROMP Kick-Off Concert" takes place at 7 PM at the RiverPark Center and features Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives, The Del McCoury Band, and Mike Snider. This concert is a gift to the museum from its founder, Terry Woodward, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of his business, WaxWorks. Woodward is covering all the costs of the concert and the museum is receiving all the proceeds from the ticket sales. (For an interview, Woodward can be reached at 270-926-0008.)

Friday June 26 and Saturday June 27 the festival will move outdoors to Yellow Creek Park, a spacious and scenic park on the outskirts of Owensboro where most of the national acts will be playing, such as Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The Dan Tyminski Band and many others. Festival-goers will be treated to instrument and vocal workshops, a trade show, arts & crafts and instrument vendors, concessions, free tent camping and free parking. Bring a blanket or chair, sunscreen & water. Coolers and picnics are allowed.

ROMP '09 is sponsored by the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY. For ticket info and band lineup, call the museum at 888-MY-BANJO, or visit us online.

The mission of the International Bluegrass Music Museum is to develop and maintain an environment in which people of all ages can discover the richness of bluegrass music.

Click map pin for driving directions to International Bluegrass Music Museum, 117 Daviess Street, Owensboro, Kentucky 42303.

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