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POWERFUL: Bill Monroe Remembered

By International Bluegrass Music Museum
June 6, 2014 - 8:45 am

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International Bluegrass Music Museum of Owensboro, Kentucky

International Bluegrass Music Museum of Owensboro, Kentucky

Owensboro, Kent. — The long-awaited premiere of a new documentary produced by the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY takes place at 9:00 PM EDST on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 on Kentucky Educational Television. POWERFUL: Bill Monroe Remembered tells the poignant, riveting story of Ohio County, KY native Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music, through the remembrances of dozens of his "Blue Grass Boys," the name given to the 161 sidemen and women who, at various times, were members of his band from the 1940s until his death in 1996.

Portions of this documentary were first shown at the museum's Bill Monroe Centennial Celebration on the anniversary of Monroe's 100 birthday, September 13, 2011. Prominent bluegrass musician Pete Wernick, a/k/a Dr. Banjo, attended the celebration and wrote this description of POWERFUL for the bluegrass community:

"The movie POWERFUL, about Bill Monroe, made its debut right on Bill's 100th birthday, and it is a truly awesome and amazing piece of work. The meat of the 2-hour film is beautifully shot and edited stories from his stunning cavalcade of sidemen... including Earl Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Bobby Hicks, Jack Hicks, George Shumate, Peter Rowan, Del McCoury, Byron Berline, Glen Duncan, Bill Keith, James Monroe, Lamar Grier, and on and on.

"These men were at their ease, very-well recorded, telling it like it was, and the subject matter and editing makes the time just fly by, as a deep and rich portrait emerges of the cross-eyed child who could lift a 1000 pound log, kick a mule in the jaw with "the sound of an exploding watermelon", scare the devil out of his musicians, and melt your heart with a kind word or act, or soulful song.

"This movie, by Joe Gray of Louisville, KY, is no less than a masterpiece in my opinion, with very high cinematic values, deeply insightful, and beautifully woven -- probably the best movie ever about bluegrass."

POWERFUL actually had its genesis as far back as 2003. In September of that year, in a clearly time-dated and historically impactful project, the International Bluegrass Music Museum launched its Video Oral History Project to professionally record the histories of the living members of bluegrass music's 1st and early 2nd generations. In so doing, the museum created an archive of a vastly under-documented segment of our nation's cultural heritage by filming in-depth, first person interviews conducted by knowledgeable historians. Many of the interviews were augmented with concert footage.

Midway through the Video Oral History Project's process, it became apparent that the Blue Grass Boys' remembrances about Bill Monroe had not been captured for posterity and would be lost forever if immediate action was not taken to record their histories.

This loss would have been a travesty, since "bluegrass" is one of a scant handful of original American music genres, and as such, is an integral part of our nation's cultural heritage. The pioneering members of the genre contributed to the shaping of the sound and its popularity in lands far and wide. Their influence on acoustic music in the 20th Century has since led to the establishment of bluegrass communities throughout North America, Japan, Europe, Russia, Australia, and elsewhere. This worldwide bluegrass community is currently estimated in the tens of millions and growing exponentially as the genre opens wide to its roots and branches.

The museum therefore set out to create a definitive document that would tell Mr. Monroe's story in a way in which it had never before been told. POWERFUL: Bill Monroe Remembered, takes the viewer back to the early days of bluegrass music through the stories of those who lived it. What emerges is a powerful and enduring portrait of one of America's most important musical creators.

After its premiere on KET, the International Bluegrass Music Museum will show POWERFUL: Bill Monroe Remembered on each day of its upcoming festival, ROMP, June 25-26-27-28.

Additional information

NOTE FROM THIS SITE: at the time of this press release there was no additional information available about the documentary available on the museum web site.


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Reader Comments

June 06, 2014 08:59 AM
I wonder if this will be broadcast nationally on PBS? BTW, is this pronounced "Pah-yer-full" ? ;)

Bill Foss
June 06, 2014 09:19 AM
I hope this is not too off topic, but what ever happened to the Monroe bio pic that was planned. I haven't heard anything about it lately?
June 07, 2014 01:45 AM
I got to see this at the 100th Monroe BD party in Owensboro and the film lives up to it's name "powerful". It's about the man and his music through the thoughts and words from those close to him. Each BGBoy had a bond with Big Mon and it comes out in this film. If you have not seen it, go see it. I do hope in the near future the Museum plans to sell DVD copies of it.
June 07, 2014 02:11 AM
For those of us not in broadcast range of Kentucky , where can we see it?
Mike Bunting
June 08, 2014 11:09 PM
Quote from f5loar: I got to see this at the 100th Monroe BD party in Owensboro and the film lives up to it's name "powerful". It's about the man and his music through the thoughts and words from those close to him. Each BGBoy had a bond with Big Mon and it comes out in this film. If you have not seen it, go see it. I do hope in the near future the Museum plans to sell DVD copies of it. End Quote
I too saw it there and I've been waiting ever since for its commercial release. Your assessment of it is dead on.
June 11, 2014 08:01 AM
I watched it last night on KET. Luckily I'm in Ky so it's airing frequently.

I would LOVE to get more insight on the inspiration that Bill received from other musicians that he drew on to create Bluegrass. They only briefly mention his love for the blues early on.

Also,interesting to hear Sonny Osborne touch on some of the "inhumanity" he experienced under Bill. Bill had a vision, and so I assume he provided a lashing to anyone not working as hard as he wanted them to. Probably just an oil and water relationship. Can't believe Sonny was only 14!

I loved listening to Peter Rowan give his insights... he's a trip!
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