Just got back from a wonderful trip to Kentucky for a presentation to the International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) in Owensboro — my home away from home! A plaque honoring my partner, Tina Aridas (who passed away in 2011), will be displayed in the museum’s library. My friend and director of the museum, Gabrielle Gray, told me that Tina was instrumental in getting the library established at the museum by donating a substantial number of books to get it started. And I brought one more volume to add to the collection, a limited edition of America’s Music: Bluegrass.
As a former teacher, I was excited to hear more about what IBMM is doing in the community to promote our music. Since 2003, they have been running the Bluegrass in the Schools (BITS) program that introduces over 8,000 elementary students at 24 schools to the world of bluegrass music. And, several hundred residents of all ages participate in the Saturday Lessons Program that provides a free instrument loan and modestly priced lessons from professional bluegrass instructors. These are truly remarkable programs that bring together young and old, helping to foster a love of this music and the desire to keep it going. I wish more programs like this were available. Check out their website and see how it’s done!
While in Owensboro, I was amazed at all the new development along the river front with playgrounds, brick sidewalks, world-class hotels and restaurants. And speaking of restaurants, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to sample some of Kentucky’s best barbeque at Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn. If you’re ever in Owensboro, be sure to check out this family owned business. You’ll see why I was smacking my lips and licking my fingers. We don’t get this kind of barbeque in Phoenix!
While Gabrielle and I chowed down on some melt-in-your-mouth BBQ mutton (an Owensboro speciality) with all the fixin’s, she told me that the museum has gotten so big that they are looking at relocating to a larger facility. Although I have a lot of fond memories of the current museum, I know that bigger is better in this case! More room to preserve precious archives and memorabilia, better equipped music rooms for the Lessons Program, a larger research library…I could see that faraway look in her eyes as she described her vision for the future. And all this is in her grasp with the current matching grant challenge from the KY Arts Partnerships. I’ve made a little extra donation to the museum to help out and encourage bluegrass lovers everywhere to pitch in too! Click here to donate.