Time for the International Bluegrass Music Museum ROMP!
Author: Betsie Green
Talent! Talent! Did I mention talent? The fine folks at the International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) have gathered top-notch musicians from across the wide world of bluegrass for the 13th annual ROMP Festival taking place June 22-25. This festival is a highlight of the hottest sounds in traditional bluegrass, old-time, newgrass and Americana. It would be hard to pick a favorite out of a lineup like this one, but you can look forward to stellar performances by Old Crow Medicine Show, Del McCoury Band, Sam Bush Band, Bryan Sutton, Town Mountain and Jerry Douglas presents The Earls of Leicester, just to mention a few. If you tried to add up all of the years of talent in this lineup, it would take a long while.
With multiple Grammy Awards and three consecutive Male Vocalist of the Year Awards from the prestigious International Bluegrass Music Association (IMBA), Del McCoury is currently celebrating 50 years in the business. He has just released two new albums, Celebrating 50 Years of Del McCoury and By Request. Del (we just call him Del) got his big start playing with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys in the ‘60s, and he has spent the last 50 years creating and mastering some of the finest music in the business. Along with his sons Ronnie and Rob McCoury, the Del McCoury Band brings something new and yet always authentic to the stage: pure, perfect and legendary pickin’ with father-and-son harmonies that will bring a smile to your face and make your toes start tapping.
You can also check out The Travelin’ McCourys. Ronnie and Rob McCoury bring their own unique arrangements to the stage, with their dad often sitting in for a few songs. They take their music to the next level with progressive sounds that reflect their roots while always exploring new ground in the world of bluegrass.
Another man who only needs one name would be The Father of Newgrass, Sam Bush. This multi-instrumentalist is a Grammy Award-winning vocalist and recipient of the Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award as well as multiple IMBA trophies. Sam has never hesitated to expand the horizons of bluegrass, and The Sam Bush Band represents influences from jazz, reggae, county swing, blues, folk and Americana. Over the years Sam has earned the respect and admiration of musicians and fans from across the musical world. His music is often described as the Sam Bush sound simply because it can’t fit into just one genre. You will be fortunate to be among the first to hear songs from his new album Storyman, which is due to release on June 24th. Be forewarned that your face may hurt from the ear-splitting grin that you cannot help having when the happiest man in bluegrass is on the stage.
You have all heard it. Sitting around a campfire, wisps of “Wagon Wheel” can be heard from all directions — night or day. Old Crow Medicine Show leapt into the genre with this Platinum award-winning single which has brought them fame and exposed many new folks to this music. This Grammy Award-winning ensemble kicks out high energy with rule-breaking sounds that create an entirely welcomed addition to the line-up. Discovered playing outside of a pharmacy in Boone NC by the legendary Doc Watson, these young cats have been making the festival rounds for over 15 years now, always bringing infectious arrangements that are taking the genre in new directions. So go ahead and sing along when they get to the “rock me momma” chorus. You know you want to!
The lineup also includes many up-and-coming acts that you won’t want to miss. From the guitar speed demon Billy Strings to the pure Americana fusion from Ashveille’s own Jon Stickley Trio, the list is so long that you can count on being in a bluegrass lover’s dream all weekend long. And this might be one of your last chances to catch the the sweet harmonies of Della Mae before they go on hiatus after the summer festival season.
Once the main stage closes for the night, head over to the Pioneer Village located a short walk away. Set back in the woods with log cabins and plenty of stumps to sit on, the after-hours jam is a must! You never know who will show up and sit in with the bands for the IBMM-sponsored late session. We suggest bringing extra coffee for the mornings, because you are not going to want to sleep through any of it.
Yellow Creek Park in Owensboro KY will once again be the home of the ROMP festival. Located in the heart of bluegrass country, just down the road from the birthplace of the Father of Bluegrass himself Bill Monroe, the 120-acre park will be filled with the high lonesome sounds of authentic music that make this region a mecca for Grassers from near and far. The main stage is set on a rise along the tree line with a grassy slope laid out in front that gives everyone a great view of the all day entertainment. And yes, there is room for dancing, which we recommend that you do a lot of! It will be hard not to. Throughout the weekend there will be workshops, original arts and crafts, farm to table food vendors, campfire pickin’ and much more.
The IBMM will also have events in town all weekend showcasing the history of bluegrass. There will be a shuttle running hourly from the festival to the museum, and admission is free with your festival wristband. We highly recommend that you make the trip into town to check it out. They will have performances by some of the ROMP artists as well as new exhibits and documentaries on local legend Bill Monroe. Bring an instrument and join in a jam session while you are there!
Go ahead: buy a ticket and plan on having an amazing weekend of mind-blowing fun! You can thank us later…
Find lots more information on the official festival website.