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Second of Three Exhibits for Monroe Centennial Celebration

By International Bluegrass Music Museum
August 27, 2010 - 10:15 am

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Bill Monroe's mandolin headplate, on display soon at the International Bluegrass Music Museum's Bill Monroe exhibit.

Bill Monroe's mandolin headplate, on display soon at the International Bluegrass Music Museum's Bill Monroe exhibit.

Owensboro, Kent. — The International Bluegrass Music Museum has announced their Bill Monroe Centennial Exhibit on September 10, 2010, as part of the worldwide Bill Monroe Centennial Celebration. This event takes place just three days prior to what would have been Big Mon's 99th birthday.

Featured in the Bill Monroe Centennial Exhibit are many of his personal artifacts illustrating the impact of his long and eventful career. Showcased are two major artifacts never before displayed in a museum setting: Uncle Pen's fiddle and the famous headstock veneer from Bill Monroe's mandolin.

The Bill Monroe Centennial Exhibit, is the second of three special shows that will be open during the two-year Bill Monroe Centennial Celebration. The Bill Monroe Centennial Art Exhibit is the first exhibit in the set, which opened to an overflowing crowd at the museum during the Blue Grass Boys Reunion on opening day of ROMP 2010. ROMP is the museum's summer cultural festival.

The third Bill Monroe Centennial Exhibit will open on his 100th birthday, September 13, 2011, and will feature artifacts of the Blue Grass Boys—those legendary members of Bill Monroe's band over many decades—as well as expand upon the Bill Monroe Centennial Exhibit.

Uncle Pen's Fiddle

Bluegrass musicians and fans know that this fiddle and its owner, Pendleton Vandiver, were enormously influential in Bill Monroe's life.

Uncle Pen's fiddle was acquired by one of the most instrumental people in establishing the IBMM, Terry Woodward of Owensboro, Kentucky, who has gifted the instrument to the museum for the duration of the Centennial celebration. This fiddle has been used in recent recording sessions by Ricky Skaggs, Stuart Duncan, Fletcher Bright and Tim O'Brien, among many others, to record a soundtrack for a motion picture being made of Bill Monroe's life starring Golden Globe-nominated actor Peter Sarsgaard as Monroe, his real-life wife Maggie Gyllenhaal as Bessie Lee Mauldin, T-Bone Burnett as music director and Callie Khouri as script writer.

Monroe Mandolin Headplate

The other major artifact, the original headstock veneer from Bill Monroe's world-famous Gibson 1923 F-5 Lloyd Loar mandolin, is part of a legend well-known to fans and considered by some to be the quintessential bluegrass relic. Following a disagreement with Gibson, Monroe removed the company's name from the headstock with a pocketknife, leaving only the word "The."

The veneer was auctioned at Christie's in New York City in December of 2009. The IBMM's executive director, Gabrielle Gray, made the trip from Owensboro hoping to be the top bidder and acquire the artifact for the museum. She was outbid by Laura Weber Cash, an accomplished vocalist and national award-winning fiddler, who, along with her husband, John Carter Cash, graciously agreed to place it on loan to the museum for the duration of the Centennial celebration.

Additional information:
Museum web site

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