Thursday, December 17, 2009

Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike to bring even more bluegrass music into Kentucky elementary classrooms!

Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike will perform concerts in 21 Owensboro, Ky.-area elementary schools during the month of January. The All-School Bluegrass Assemblies are a part of the International Bluegrass Music Museum’s Bluegrass in the School Program (BITS).

The January dates mark Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike’s second term as the featured artists for this presentation. They were the very first assembly program presenters in Owensboro in 2004 and their overwhelming popularity created a successful foundation for a program that is now in its seventh year of implementation.

“Our presentation is about 45 minutes and covers the basics about how and where bluegrass was formed,” says Liberty Pike’s Becky Buller. “Valerie is a former junior high music teacher and has a knack for putting together a program that keeps the students engaged 'til the last,” she adds.

The in-school concerts by national acts are a much-anticipated annual event in the Owensboro area, taking place as part of the Museum’s ongoing educational outreach efforts. Schoolchildren, faculty and administrators, as well as parents who take in the concerts during the school day, often report back that they are the best programs they’ve ever seen in the schools.

“The students seemed to have a lot of fun and were really open-minded to learning about this uniquely American music,” Buller agrees. “I would encourage other bands to look for ways to reach out to students in their own communities with this kind of program. Who knows? They may catch the attention of a kid who will grow up to be one of the next icons of our music!”

The Museum’s BITS program is designed to interest elementary-age schoolchildren in bluegrass music. If—after receiving an eight day, in-depth introduction to fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo in their classrooms—they want to learn to play bluegrass, they can then sign up for group lessons at the Museum, with instruments on loan as part of the Saturday Lessons Program.

After four years, 1,711 beginning and intermediate students of all ages have taken group music lessons in this one-of-a-kind, authentic and historic setting. There’s nothing else quite like learning to play bluegrass while surrounded by the actual clothing, posters, photographs and artifacts of Bill Monroe and other greats!

"Bluegrass is one of the few truly American musical genres," Buller says. "The museum is preserving all the wonderful stories of Bluegrass' creators and innovators for not only future generations of musicians, but also for the public at large. By becoming a member, we are supporting the preservation of a national treasure," she says.

Sponsors of the Museum’s BITS program are the Michael E Horn Family Foundation, Lester E. Yeager Charitable Trust, Kentucky Arts Council and the John D’Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts. Participating school systems are Daviess County Public Schools, Owensboro Public Schools and Owensboro Catholic School System.

For more information on the Museum’s educational outreach and lessons programs, call Gabrielle Gray at 270-926-7891 or email her at

Assembly schedule for Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike:

Jan 11
8 am Foust
10 am Newton Parrish
1 pm West Louisville

Jan 12
8:15 am Cravens
10 am Tamarack
1 pm Country Heights

Jan 13
10 am Sutton
1 pm Meadowlands

Jan 14
8:15 Catholic K-3 Campus
10 am Catholic 4-6 Campus
1 pm Sorgho

Jan 15
8 am Whitesville Elementary
1 pm East View

Jan 19
8 am Mary Carrico Knottsville
10 am Saint Marys of the Woods Whitesville
1 pm Deer Park

Jan 20
8:30 am Estes
1 pm Burns

Jan 21
1 pm Southern Oaks

Jan 22
9:30 Audubon
1 pm Highland

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Concert Fun

Our Holiday Concert fundraiser December 10 was a resounding success. Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike were so funny and entertaining that the “sell-out crowd” (about 75 more than filled up the Bluegrass Unlimited Theater) was on their feet clapping several times.

The concert lasted nearly 3 hours and no one left before it was over, amazing for a weeknight. We made a few hundred dollars and many more friends. Now it seems everyone wants a concert date. The show was broadcast on RBI and the museum is getting offers now from other national acts to do benefit concerts in like fashion.

Up-N-Gone opened with a fine 20-minute set, staying to join in for a finale where both bands performed and the audience sang along. A frolicking good time was had by all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Adding to the Museum Collection: Gabrielle goes to the Christie's Auction

I have just returned from a trip out East during which I attended the auction at Christie's in the Rockefeller Center in New York City. The museum bid on two Monroe artifacts—the Gibson mandolin headstock veneer, which we didn't get, and the statuette commemorating his induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, which we did get.

It was "Wild and Wonderful" (yes, I drove through West Virginia!) to see all the interest in the Bill Monroe artifacts. When the headstock veneer was introduced, they made an announcement that there had been a LOT of interest in the upcoming piece. I think they were surprised at that, but I certainly wasn't.

See a picture of it here.

There were bidders in the audience (including me) and callers on the phones. The bidding went SO HIGH, SO QUICKLY it made my head spin, and suddenly it was out of reach. I was disappointed because I had driven a LONG way to be there and I wanted that artifact for the museum so that everyone all over the world could enjoy it—and the story that accompanies it—forever, but I know whoever bought it will take excellent care of it because they spent $37,500 (plus taxes & fees) to get it!

Here's what we did acquire:

It’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction award presented posthumously to Bill Monroe in 1997. It will make a great addition to our permanent Big Mon exhibit at the Museum.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Concert Video Night Dec. 12!

On December 12, 2009 at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky, the museum will present a night of Old-Time & Progressive Bluegrass as videotaped by Kentucky Educational Television for their “Jubilee” series on public television. All these performances were videotaped at ROMP, the Bluegrass Museum’s annual festival which takes place the 4th weekend of June.

The event is free and open to the public. Featured artists and times are:

5:00 PM Foghorn String Band (Old Time)
6:00 PM Tim O’Brien (Progressive)
7:00 PM Uncle Earl (Old Time)
8:00 PM Adrienne Young & Little Sadie (Progressive)
8:30 PM Cadillac Sky (Progressive)

This event is part of The Holiday Stroll, during which many downtown Owensboro businesses will be open and welcoming to the public, showing off their holiday decorations, exhibits, menus and merchandise. Free refreshments will be served at numerous businesses, including the Bluegrass Museum. Get into the holiday spirit with strolling carolers, live performances, and storefront decorations making this a reminder of the good old days of being downtown at Christmas. Singers, instrumentalists, dancers, storytellers and actors will perform in storefronts and outside along Second and Third streets from Daviess to St. Ann.

The Bluegrass Museum is located in the RiverPark Center Complex, 117 Daviess Street, in downtown Owensboro just under the blue bridge… over the legendary Ohio River that is the subject of so many bluegrass songs.