International Bluegrass Museum – Owensboro, Ky

I have been wanting to drop into the International Bluegrass Museum for a couple of years but somehow it never seems to fit into the schedule. On a previous visit the museum was closed.

It’s an early rainy morning the weekend before Christmas and the whole riverfront is deserted.  Much to my surprise the museum is open today.

Admission is a reasonable $8. I find a lone employee behind the counter and she eagerly introduces me to the museum. Sally starts a movie detailing the roots of Bluegrass Music narrated by the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe.

I do find such history interesting but I am told the movie is :40 minutes long. That’s a bit much for my short attention span.  I wander around to some of the displays adjacent to the theater.

The displays give a textbook definition of Bluegrass Music as being tight throated, high-pitched,  piercing and full of lonesome yearning for the good simple life.  I never thought of it like that; but I’ve always appreciated the sound.

Bluegrass Museum Displays

The displays are pretty static offering overhead domes for listening to the various artists and highlighting nuances of the music. Fortunately, I am the only one here. If it were busy the kiosks would be competing and playing over each other.

The Toe Tapping Begins

One display I particularly enjoy highlights bluegrass music in TV and film. Who ever gets tired of hearing “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”, from The Beverly Hillbillies,  “Dueling Banjos” from Deliverance and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” from Bonnie and Clyde?

I fondly recall listening to Dad  trying to pluck out Foggy Mounting breakdown and Cripple Creek when I was a child.  He never quiet got the hang of it, bless his heart, and he about drove us crazy trying.

I wrap up the tour back at the lobby / gift shop area.  Sally enthusiastically asks about my visit. While discussing the exhibits,  I spy a huge upright bass behind her.  I ask if its available for a photo op.  She does me one better and provides a little impromptu lesson / jam session. I garner a whole new appreciation for the art; she just made it look easy!

Bluegrass Jam Session
Curious Craig and Strummin Sally

The current venue is small and cozy but big things are in store for the museum. In 2018, they get a new larger venue with much more to offer.  I’ll have to work on my plucking and come back for the Thursday jam sessions. In the mean time, I’ll continue to yearn for the good simple life.


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3 thoughts on “Pickin’ & Grinnin’”

  1. I guess being in Kentucky they probably didn’t play Rockytop? That along with Cripple Creek has always been one of my old favorite bluegrass tunes.

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