Music, perhaps more than any other art form, both reveals the character of a place and shapes its culture. Whether it’s folk, country or blues, rock, soul or grunge, music is a reflection of modern culture and a force that molds it.
These cities gave birth to music movements and helped raise the musicians who played major roles in our lives.
Bill Monroe, known as the Father of Bluegrass Music, was born in 1911 in Rosine, Kentucky, about 40 miles outside Owensboro. In 1938, Monroe decided to call his band Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, after his home state.
“Bluegrass has really been taking off recently,” said Dave Kirk, destination management for Visit Owensboro. “It’s something people of all ages and all demographics really love.”
Owensboro’s International Bluegrass Music Museum opened year-round in 1995, but the museum recently rebranded as the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum to “set the stage” for the grand opening of its new $15.3 million building in October. The three-story museum will feature state-of-the-art interactive exhibits, an outdoor amphitheater and a 400-plus-seat theater where people can catch live concerts every Saturday night.
The ROMP Fest, aka the River of Music Party, is an annual bluegrass music festival that is held the last weekend in June at Yellow Creek Park, and “it’s how people discover Owensboro,” Kirk said. The main stage features big-name bands — Alison Krauss headlined this year — and after-party gatherings at Pioneer Village include food trucks, vendors and artist-led music workshops.
Groups can also enjoy music during the city’s Friday After 5 summer concert series. Every Friday night, six stages lining the Ohio River showcase free live music.