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60 Legendary Bluegrass Musicians to be Honored as Pioneers of Bluegrass

By Mike Lawing
June 2, 2008 - 8:00 pm

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International Bluegrass Music Museum

International Bluegrass Music Museum

Owensboro, Ky. — On June 26, 2008 the International Bluegrass Music Museum will honor 60 legendary musicians known as "Bluegrass Music's First Generation."

These iconic artists are coming from coast to coast and as far as Japan. Each will be recognized for their contribution to the genre known as bluegrass music.

This historic 3-day event, taking place within a 30 minute drive of Rosine, Kentucky, birthplace, homeplace, and burial place of Bill Monroe, "The Father of Bluegrass Music," is dubbed the "Pioneers of Bluegrass Gathering."

The Museum is hosting the event to celebrate the lives and individual music styles of the artists who, in their various locales throughout this nation and others, played the music Monroe created and thus developed bluegrass into a cultural phenomenon that has spread to a fan base numbering in the tens of millions in 75 nations.

Festivities begin June 26 in conjunction with the Museum's annual festival, "ROMP, the River of Music Party," taking place June 26-28 in Owensboro. The ceremony honoring the Pioneers of Bluegrass will take place during The Legends Concert, at 7:00 p.m. in the RiverPark Center, 101 Daviess St., next door to the Museum. Artists performing at the concert include The Isaacs, The Lewis Family, and The Sullivans.

Many of the honorees have participated in the Museum's ongoing archival project known as VOHP, the Video Oral History Project. Originally the brainchild of bluegrass legend Sonny Osborne and championed by the Museum's founder, Terry Woodward and others, VOHP's goal is to record the life histories, performance styles, and musical contributions of those who were among the earliest practitioners of bluegrass music. The Pioneers of Bluegrass Gathering is sponsored by preeminent fiddler and real estate developer Fletcher Bright of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

"Bluegrass is a relatively recent American art form," said Gabrielle Gray, the Museum's Executive Director. "Bill Monroe was born in 1911. The music genre he created (named by others in honor of his band, "The Blue Grass Boys") wasn't fully congealed until the mid-1940s, when his band consisted of himself, Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Cedric Rainwater, and Chubby Wise. Therefore, many of the earliest musicians who were playing bluegrass and had taken it to all parts of the globe were still alive when this Museum began archiving their histories in 2003, which made it possible to record much of the history of this unique art form. Although some had already and have since passed away (most notably, Bill Monroe), we've been amazingly lucky to be able to gather the histories of so many—161 to date.

"The purpose of this gathering is to honor these luminaries—and their interviewers, many of whom will be in attendance—and give them, their families, friends, and fans memories to last a lifetime, as they have done for us."

ROMP festival performances continue on Friday and Saturday, June 27-28 at Yellow Creek Park, just outside Owensboro, where Main Stage performances begin Friday at noon and continue through 11 p.m. Saturday. Featured are a broad spectrum of nationally known bluegrass acts, along with bands from Italy, Sweden, and New Zealand.

To learn more about the Museum and view the full ROMP line-up, visit bluegrassmuseum.org or call 1-888 MY-BANJO.

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

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