The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum on West 2nd St had its grand opening this past Saturday afternoon. Thousands of ardent bluegrass fans, my dad and I included, showed up to the event with high expectations.
Throughout the first floor of the two-story building, there are a variety of exhibits that provide information on the history of bluegrass and how our town has contributed to the growth and popularity of the music. The walls bear pictures of the pioneers of the genre, such as Bill Monroe and Reno & Smiley, as well as newer bands and musicians like the Punch Brothers, who often perform live at ROMP. Glass cases containing the clothing, possessions, and instruments that belonged to famous bluegrass musicians are set into the walls or stand in the center of the rooms.
The second floor houses the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and a set of computers that make up an interactive interview exhibit. Around the corner is a sign that reads something along the lines of “New exhibits coming soon!” I’m excited to see the additions when they’re finished, and to walk around the rest of the building again when it’s not so crowded.
There are two performance areas on the premises. “Downtown ROMP” is an outdoor stage on the back lawn where free concerts will be held, and there’s a theatre inside on the first floor for the more formal performances that require the purchase of a ticket. The first musical event in the theater will be held on Saturday, November 3rd, and there are performances planned all the way up to December 8th. Hot Rize, The Infamous Stringdusters, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Marty Smart and his Fabulous Superlatives, and the Del McCoury Band will all be performing at the museum in that time frame.
I found the new bluegrass museum very interesting and enjoyable, but that’s likely due to my upbringing. I grew up constantly surrounded by bluegrass music and musicians, so the genre is an important part of my life that I associate with some of my favorite memories. Bluegrass may not be every teenager’s speed, but I think The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a valuable addition to Owensboro that can provide its young residents with worthwhile information about its involvement in the bluegrass movement—and access to all of that knowledge is only $8 for students.