Int'l Bluegrass Music Museum
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Update May 2014 ... In an enormous show of support for Bluegrass music, the City of Owensboro, KY has pledged to give $3 million to the International Bluegrass Music Museum, provided the museum raises the remaining funds needed to build a fabulous new International Bluegrass Music Center on the site of the old state office building. Of the $12 million needed for this endeavor, the museum has raised nearly $5 million to add to the City's $3 million. Check back soon for architectural renderings!


For exciting news about the Center, Click here.

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Music Lessons – Fall 2014

Fall Bluegrass Music Lessons begin at the museum on October 20, 2014 - every other Saturday morning

Guitar, Fiddle, Banjo and Mandolin Lessons
10:00 – Bluegrass Bootcamp 6-10 yrs.
11:00 – Bluegrass Bootcamp 11 & up
12:00 Beginner Plus – All Instruments
12:45 – Intermediate – All Instruments
1:30 – Band

All Levels Welcome! Adults welcome. Learn with your child!


Times subject to change.

All classes: $35; Each additional family member: $20


More info coming soon.

Sign up in the online gift shop

Last Lesson is Saturday December 20.

Les Leverett exhibit

The International Bluegrass Music Museum in downtown Owensboro, Ky is currently hosting an exhibit featuring the work of famed music photographer, Les Leverett.

leverett-mw-bus-webUnveiled during ROMP this past June, the exhibit showcases dozens of incredible photographs taken during Leverett’s long career as a bluegrass music photographer. Over the years, Leverett has secured his reputation as Nashville’s premier music photographer by photographing everything from record album covers to scenes of the Opry backstage. His photo archive is among the most extensive in the business, and his clients range from Life magazine to The Nashville Network, from American Heritage, to the Grand Ole Opry. Yet Leverett has always had a special place in his heart for bluegrass, ever since the days when his office was in the old National Life building, and he stood outside the window of the WSM studio to watch Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs sell Martha White flour. His sense of history, his passion for bluegrass, and his consummate skill with a camera made it only natural that he be honored with an exhibit by the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

Leverett searched through thousands of negatives, proofs and images of his collection to find the photographs which are featured in the exhibit. After creating a list of artists he had documented through the years, he began the process of finding the photographs he wanted to print. The exhibit gave Leverett the opportunity to print pictures he personally enjoyed, a chance he seldom was given as a commercial photographer.

Leverett’s admiration of bluegrass music started at an early age and is still strong in his heart today.

“I just love bluegrass music,” he said. “On Wednesday nights I attend a prayer service and love when the music director pulls out an old bluegrass gospel tune. I really love it.”

There are many “first additions” in the collection as well as other images that may be familiar to bluegrass music fans.

IBMM curator RaShae Jennings expressed the uniqueness of Leverett’s work, “His photographs are quite beautiful, and capture moments that words can’t express. There are lighter moments of the artists backstage, in diners…things you don’t see in the usual pictures of them performing.”

“We tried to avoid a constant stream of bands performing in front of microphones; Les knows better than anyone else that this is only part of the bluegrass scene, and that shots made backstage, at festivals, at recording or radio sessions, eating at roadside restaurants, or talking with fans are as revealing as the more glamorous ones.

Students of motion pictures speak of the “auteur” — the artist who is able to work within the commercial industry and at the same time express his own imagination and vision. There is no better way to define the work of a man whose vision has for over three decades enhanced the dignity and beauty of bluegrass music — Les Leverett.” –Charles K. Wolfe (late Professor of English, music historian, and author of “Grand Ole Opry: The Early Years,” “Tennessee Strings,” “Kentucky Country,” and an abundance of similarly important books, articles, reviews, and notes on music in American Culture.

les-leverett-webAfter being discharged from the Army in 1947, Leverett enrolled in The Texas College of Photographic Art in San Antonio. His interest in photography had been sparked partly because of a pair of Civil War binoculars owned by his father.  Leverett often “borrowed” the lenses from these binoculars and projected self-drawn “comic strips” from his home-made projector onto the bedroom shades.

He began his career working for Associated Photographers in Nashville. Shortly after the business shut down, Leverett started a career as a photographer for National Life and Accident Insurance Company. During this time he fused his career with work for WSM-TV as well as the Grand Ole Opry, which eventually led to his long time work with the Opry which spanned 32 years.

Leverett’s photographs have appeared on hundreds of album covers, in many books, magazines, newspapers and videos. Special honors include a Grammy award for best album cover photography in 1966 for Porter Wagoner’s album, “Confessions of a Broken Man”; and Billboard Magazine’s Best Country Cover award in 1973 for Dolly Parton’s album, “Bubblin’ Over.”

Leverett was inducted into Opryland’s National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences’ “Walkway of Stars” in June, 1994.

For information on viewing this exhibit at the International Bluegrass Music Museum, go to

9th Annual IBMM Mandolin Camp

ibmm-mandoCamp-9-up-webIBMM’s 9th annual Mandolin Camp, at the Museum in Owensboro, KY, is November 14-15-16, 2014! With Mike Compton continuing as Camp Director, the Bill Monroe banner will still be carried high at this year’s camp, while other faculty members will add different methods of teaching. (Mr. Compton may do so, as well!) The Museum’s goal is to be inclusive of several styles in our 2014 curriculum.








The  IBMM Mandolin camp faculty includes:

  • Mike Compton

    For anyone who loves bluegrass mandolin, acoustic blues, or watching a musician express himself with incredible mastery of his instrument, Mike Compton is riveting.  Many know Mike from the Nashville Bluegrass Band, John Hartford Stringband, or as the featured mandolin player on “O Brother, Where Art Thou”. Mike returns as Director of the IBMM Mandolin Camp — his 9th straight year imparting Monroe-style knowledge to mando campers. A mandolin master able to channel the Monroe-style playing better than anyone, Compton is a preservationist who continues teaching the music that Bill Monroe innovated and which set the standard for generations of bluegrass mandolin players to come. A true bluegrass icon and considered one of the best and most influential mandolin players in acoustic music today, Mike Compton is the General George Patton on the mandolin, and as passionate an advocate as you’re ever likely to find.

  • Jesse McReynolds 

    One of the greatest mandolinists of all time, a Bluegrass Hall of Fame member,  a man who has spent his entire life setting trends, Jessee joins IBMM faculty as a rare gift to mandolin students. The forever-young Mr. McReynolds will not only teach his unique style of cross-picking, but also provide insights into historical mandolin techniques, meanwhile keeping campers enthralled with stories of Jim & Jesse’s bluegrass days of old. Wow! You do not want to miss this opportunity to spend three days and nights with the legendary Jesse McReynolds! 

  • Dominick Leslie

    Dom has studied with mandolin virtuosos David Grisman, Mike Marshall, Chris Thile, Don Stiernberg, Andy Statman, Mike Compton and others, and enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in 2008. Dominick is currently a member of the phenomenal new band, The Brotet, as well as the Boston-based group The Deadly Gentlemen. He can occasionally be seen performing with The Grant Gordy Quartet, Noam Pikelny and Friends, and other groups. Whether writing a new piece, learning a tune or performing with his confreres, Dominick will always share his love of music with others and enjoy playing the mandolin.  Dominick performed at 2013 ROMP and gave a Mandolin workshop at ROMP with Sam Bush. We look forward to adding his instruction to our growing list of instructors for  the 9th Annual IBMM Mandolin Camp.

  • Sierra Hull

    Appearing on Kentucky’s own Woodsongs when she was 10 years old with her hero Sam Bush, Sierra Hull was invited to the Opry stage at age 11, signed to Rounder Records and released her first CD at age 16, and currently attends  the Berklee College of Music in Boston on a scholarship. Sierra  has a traditional bluegrass sensibility and skill that defies her young age.  Already having presented numerous mandolin workshops alone and with other mandolin virtuosos, Sierra brings a youthful slant to bluegrass mandolin applauded by veterans as well.

  • Don Stiernberg

    While still in his teens, Don Stiernberg learned to play the  mandolin from the influential and innovative virtuoso Jethro Burns.  Jethro referred to Don as his “graduate student”, hired him to play in his band, and guided him into a lifelong career in music. A leading exponent of jazz mandolin style, Don has eight recording projects of his own and appears on many others by a variety of artists in all styles. In addition to touring from coast to coast and abroad with his own trio, he stays busy with freelance performing and recording session work in and around his native Chicago. Don also enjoys teaching and writing about the mandolin.Mel Bay has just released his method book “Jazz Mandolin Appetizers”, and he continues to contribute regularly to Mandolin Magazine. He has been an instructor at River of the West, Mandolin Symposium, Kaufman Kamp, Swannanoa, Mando Camp North, Cape Cod Mandolin Camp, Ashokan Swing Week, Accademia Internacionale di Mandolino, European Mandoline Akademy, and Momento Rio Bandolim.  Don’s latest release, “Mandoboppin’”made Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s Best of 2013 list.

  • Will Kimble 

    Born in 1969, luthier Will Kimble fell in love with mandolins in 1997, and began building in 2000.  His father, Fred Kimble, taught Will how to build and still works with him to this day.  He is also influenced by his friend and mentor, Lynn Dudenbostel.  Will and his father are inspired by Loar-era Gibsons as they pursue their passion of building mandolins. Will  will be providing mandolin repair, advice, and construction and care sessions at mando camp.

New performers are imparting their own footprints on bluegrass. Stay tuned (all 8 strings, please) for news of other  mando camp news to be announced…

  • Prices:  
  • Registration includes: All three days of classes,  meals (Friday dinner, Saturday lunch), Lodging for two nights (Friday and Saturday - discounted rates for additional lodging nights if desired), free admission to All-Star Faculty concert and reception Saturday night, and camp T-shirt!
  • Online mando camp registration is now available.
  • For More information see the Mando Camp info page

ROMPfest 2014 – info and news articles


Support the International Bluegrass Music Museum and have a wonderful weekend June 25-28 at beautiful Yellow Creek Park in Owensboro!

Go to for line-up, camping info and tickets.

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer ROMP articles:

(Thanks to M&I for opening these articles about ROMP up to the public – no subscription required)


Special Section

Thursday: Jam session with legends leaves pickers exhilarated

Thursday: Campers are ready to ROMP

Thursday: Owensboro hosts 30th bluegrass festival this week

Friday: A laid-back affair

Saturday: Skaggs, fans love old-time bluegrass

Sunday: Stellar lineup, atmosphere lead to ROMPing good time

Tuesday July 1: ROMP crowd likely topped 20,000 for third year

Tuesday July 1: The People of ROMP (video)

Related articles requiring a M&I subscription:

Friday: Music trail in Owensboro’s future?

Saturday: Bluegrass center final design unveiled

Sunday: Owensboro to be musical side trip



Powerful: Bill Monroe Remembered Premieres June 10

Monroe_powerful_ketThe long-awaited premiere of a powerful new documentary produced by the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY takes place at 9:00 PM EDT on Tuesday, June 10, 2014  on Kentucky Educational Television.

POWERFUL: Bill Monroe Remembered tells the poignant, riveting story of Ohio County, KY native Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music, through the remembrances of dozens of his “Blue Grass Boys,” the name given to the 161 sidemen and women who, at various times, were members of his band from the 1940s until his death in 1996.

Portions of this documentary were first shown at the museum’s Bill Monroe Centennial Celebration on the anniversary of Monroe’s 100 birthday, September 13, 2011. Prominent bluegrass musician Pete Wernick, a/k/a Dr. Banjo, attended the celebration and wrote this description of POWERFUL for the bluegrass community:

“The movie “Powerful“, about Bill Monroe, made its debut right on Bill’s 100th birthday, and it is a truly awesome and amazing piece of work. The meat of the 2-hour film is beautifully shot and edited stories from his stunning cavalcade of sidemen… including Earl Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Bobby Hicks, Jack Hicks, George Shumate, Peter Rowan, Del McCoury, Byron Berline, Glen Duncan, Bill Keith, James Monroe, Lamar Grier, and on and on.

 “These men were at their ease, very-well recorded, telling it like it was, and the subject matter and editing makes the time just fly by, as a deep and rich portrait emerges of the cross-eyed child who could lift a 1000 pound log, kick a mule in the jaw with “the sound of an exploding watermelon”, scare the devil out of his musicians, and melt your heart with a kind word or act, or soulful song.

 “This movie, by Joe Gray of Louisville, KY, is no less than a masterpiece in my opinion, with very high cinematic values, deeply insightful, and beautifully woven — probably the best movie ever about bluegrass.”

POWERFUL actually had its genesis as far back as 2003. In September of that year, in a clearly time-dated and historically impactful project, the International Bluegrass Music Museum launched its Video Oral History Project to professionally record the histories of the living members of bluegrass music’s 1st and early 2nd generations. In so doing, the museum created an archive of a vastly under-documented segment of our nation’s cultural heritage by filming in-depth, first person interviews conducted by knowledgeable historians. Many of the interviews were augmented with concert footage.

Midway through the Video Oral History Project’s process, it became apparent that the Blue Grass Boys’ remembrances about Bill Monroe had not been captured for posterity and would be lost forever if immediate action was not taken to record their histories. This loss would have been a travesty, since “bluegrass” is one of a scant handful of original American music genres, and as such, is an integral part of our nation’s cultural heritage. The pioneering members of the genre contributed to the shaping of the sound and its popularity in lands far and wide. Their influence on acoustic music in the 20th Century has since led to the establishment of bluegrass communities throughout North America, Japan, Europe, Russia, Australia, and elsewhere. This worldwide bluegrass community is currently estimated in the tens of millions and growing exponentially as the genre opens wide to its roots and branches.

The museum therefore set out to create a definitive document that would tell Mr. Monroe’s story in a way in which it had never before been told. POWERFUL: Bill Monroe Remembered, takes the viewer back to the early days of bluegrass music through the stories of those who lived it. What emerges is a powerful and enduring portrait of one of America’s most important musical creators.

After its premiere on KET, the International Bluegrass Music Museum will show POWERFUL: Bill Monroe Remembered on each day of its upcoming festival, ROMP, June 25-26-27-28.

See KET schedule info for Powerful: Bill Monroe Remembered  including rebroadcast of this special at other times.

The ROMP website is; the museum’s website is

For more information, call 888 MY BANJO.

Hours of Operation

Regular hours:
Tuesday - Saturday
10am-5:00pm CST
1pm -4pm CST

Closed on Mondays
However, if you are traveling & can only visit the museum on a Monday, give us a call at 270-926-7891. We're in the office and we'll let you in!

Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day.


Museum members always get in free
Adults / Seniors: $5
Students: $2
Children under age 6: free
Group Rates: Call 270-926-7891
Special pricing & event packages are available for tours or groups.
Call 270-926-7891 to arrange a unique trip, live performance, or guided tour:

Enjoy the Museum!

888-MY BANJO (toll-free)

Museum Entrance
117 Daviess Street
Owensboro, KY 42303
between the Ohio River & 2nd Street

Mailing Address
International Bluegrass Music Museum
207 East Second Street
Owensboro, KY 42303

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